Author Frank Cottrell Boyce answers questions about
penning a modern-day follow up to Ian Fleming's
children's story Chitty Chitty Bang Bang...
10th April 2012
The original book, Chitty Chitty Bang Bang: The Magical Car,
published in 1964 with illustrations by John Burningham, was
based on bedtime stories Ian Fleming (James Bond's creator) told
to his son, Caspar. Now the first-ever follow-up to Ian Fleming’s
story has made a splash in the UK and USA. Fueled by wry humor,
this much-anticipated sequel to Fleming’s beloved classic — featuring
a contemporary family and a camper van with a mind of its own — is
driven by best-selling, award-winning author Frank Cottrell Boyce
and revved up by Joe Berger’s black-and-white illustrations.
What was it like to take on such a well-known and beloved story?
Did you have any reservations about resurrecting a classic, or
was it full-throttle enthusiasm to dive in?
If someone said that
you could take their fabulous 23-liter vintage racing car out
for a spin, wouldn’t you be nervous?
But wouldn’t you also say, “Yes, please!”
The members of the Tooting family are pretty eccentric, How
did you come up with those characters? Are they modeled after
anyone in your own family?
No! I'll never write about my own family. As far as I remember,
the Tooting family was just there at the side of the road when
I went out for that ride.
They were thumbing a lift, and I always stop for hitchhikers.
Did you have to do any research on vintage automobiles
or on cars in general to write this book? How did that
help you to literally and figuratively bring Chitty Chitty
Bang Bang back to life?
Discovering that Chitty Chitty Bang Bang was a real
car — and that it was really called Chitty Chitty
Bang Bang — was a great moment for me. I’ve
really been able to play with the fact that some of the
people in the story — such as Count Zborowski — were
Do you plan to turn Chitty Chitty Bang Bang Flies
Again into a series? When can we expect more adventures
with the Tooting family?
Yes, I’m already writing the next book. If you
think I’m putting this car back in the garage yet,
you’re dreaming! It’s still my turn!
When writing children’s books, do you keep
your own children in mind? Do you let them read some
of your first drafts to get a review of how the book
Not normally, but on this occasion, yes. It’s
because Chitty doesn’t belong to me — she belongs
to everyone. So I thought it was only right to get my children
to kick the tires and listen for any strange knocking sounds
from the engine. They’ve been really helpful.
have a movie version of
Chitty Chitty Bang Bang Flies Again in mind when you wrote the book?
I’m really hoping we can make a movie out of this. It would be such a lark.
Above: US hardback cover artwork.
What were your favorite books and movies as a child?
I have extremely clear memories of going to see Chitty Chitty Bang Bang as a
child — especially the bit where she falls off the cliff and everyone
screams. And I especially remember the Child Catcher, of course. Favorite books
would be those by E. Nesbit. I still idolize her. She wrote The Railway Children,
Children and It,and best of all, The Story of the Treasure Seekers.
When did you decide to write novels along with screenplays?
As a successful screenwriter, what attracted you to writing children’s
I’ve always loved reading children’s books, but I
never thought of writing one until Danny Boyle suggested that
which he was about to start filming - as a book. Sometimes
you need someone to give you that shove, don’t you? As
soon as I started writing it, I thought, “Oh,
is what I’m supposed to be doing with my life.” It
was like coming home.
What kind of car do you drive, and do you wish it had some of
the abilities that Chitty Chitty Bang Bang displays?
I have a big family so I drive a very elderly,very battered,
very grubby people carrier.
If you could take a flying car anywhere in the world, where
would you go?
I’d love to land on the top of the Auyantepui plateau in
Gran Sabana, Venezuela. It’s almost impossible to get there
apart from in a tiny flying machine, and it’s from the
top of this plateau that the world’s highest waterfall,
Angel Falls, goes tumbling into the Rio Gauya. Angel Falls is
that most of the water turns to mist before it hits the bottom.
I’d love to peep over the edge. And after that, fly home
and land in my front garden.