Here at Toppsta Towers we are HUGE fans of Tom Mitchell’s debut teen novel, How To Rob A Bank – in fact, it’s our Book of the Month! It’s funny, filmic and fast-paced. You're going to LOVE it!
But enough from us – over to the author himself to tell you more about his delicious debut and his fascination with bank robberies!
I’m guessing that you consider yourself a good person, right? But what if you had the power of invisibility? Do you think you’d stay good? Nothing personal, but I don’t. Not you and not me. Pinching a chocolate bar from a friend’s pocket would be too tempting. And from there, we’d escalate to driving off in “borrowed” supercars.
It’s a good job, then, that invisibility cloaks exist only in fiction. So how about a different question: if you had a fool-proof plan for robbing a bank, would you go through with it?
Maybe not? Me neither. I’m too scared of getting shouted at. But (hopefully) neither of us have accidentally burned down the house of a close friend that we may or may not fancy. Like Dylan, the protagonist in How to Rob a Bank, has.
My book is a heist narrative for young teens. I was inspired to write it, like Dylan, by my dad. Not only did he once get locked in a bank, after they’d closed up for the day, but I also remember watching lots of good films with him when growing up. Many of them, because the genre is popular, involved robbing banks.
Dylan’s dad gets him to watch movies as well – in particular, two of my favourite heists: Dog Day Afternoon (1976) and Office Space (1999). Other than being one of the funniest films ever made, Mike Judge’s Office Space also sees Jennifer Aniston (Rachel from Friends) star in her only good movie role.
None of us might actually ever perform a heist but we all love watching and reading about them. I’m particularly lucky as I also got to write about robbing a bank. Inventing stories enables me to put versions of Tom Mitchell in all manner of weird and wonderful situations. Without wanting to sound too much like an English teacher, that’s the beauty of our imaginations – by day, I’m a mild-mannered secondary school teacher, by night, a bankrobber.
(And the best thing about robbing banks is that there is no marking.)
Why write for kids? Well, they’re better than adults, more open-minded, for one thing. And I wanted to write something funny for those who, maybe, had grown too old for all the great humour fiction written for middle grade. I didn’t really want to teach kids about important topics – that’s more my day job – so I thought I’d go the opposite way and have a teenager do something that’s probably a bad idea: robbing a bank … which will see you in prison for a minimum of eight years if things go wrong, by the way.
Without revealing too much, things do go wrong for Dylan. And in ways he never imagined possible. In particular, and imagine the horror of this, he ends up getting a Saturday job. So, remember: crime doesn’t pay … and part-time weekend jobs pay even less.