|The strangest thing about Louis is, originally he wasn’t supposed to be in ‘HOW TO TRAIN YOUR PARENTS’ at all – or ‘The Trouble with Parents,’ as I called it first.
Louis and I met after I’d written the opening thirty pages of ‘The Trouble with Parents.’ I read those pages with such a sinking heart. I was certain there was a good idea here – children suffering from what they called ‘parent fatigue,’ but none of the characters jumped off the page. They were shadowy and vague and I just couldn’t make them talk.
I thought and thought about how I could bring them alive. But I found myself at a dead end until in my head I spotted a newcomer. He just appeared out of nowhere. A boy with jug ears grinning away at me with such a wide smile it took over his whole face.
Yes, that was Louis.
I liked him instantly and I knew him instantly. He was the class clown, never wanting to be serious about anything – and yet unexpectedly very determined about one thing – making his dream of being a comedian come true.
Soon I was listening to Louis bantering away with his parents. He was so funny and you know what? I didn’t seem to be doing anything, I was only eavesdropping.
Next day I ‘overheard’ Louis talking to someone else – Maddy. The twelve year old who becomes his agent and also teaches him the four secrets of parent training. They were magic together. A brilliant team.
I knew now what I had to do next.
I ripped up every one of those first thirty pages and all those shadowy characters melted away forever. While Louis – and Maddy took over the book, now called, ‘HOW TO TRAIN YOUR PARENTS.’
It became my first ever-international best-seller. I went on to write other award-winning comedies. But ‘How to Train your Parents’ outsold them all – and pupils, teachers and librarians kept asking me when was Louis coming back?
‘I don’t do series,’ I replied. And I didn’t, then. For an incredible ten years I resisted all calls to bring Louis back. I wasn’t just being stubborn. I was scared. Everyone loved, ‘How to Train Your Parents’ so much that whatever I wrote next about Louis would never match it – and could only disappoint.
But finally Louis the Laugh and I reunited. Once again we hit it off instantly and ‘My Parents Are Out of Control,’ became another best-seller. Three more books narrated by Louis have followed.
We are truly old friends now which is just as well as he accompanies me into every school, library and bookshop I visit. Who is Louis really? Can I meet him? Is he like you at all? Did you ever have a friend like Louis? The questions rain down about him. People seem far more curious about him than me! I was even asked once if Louis was on Instagram. He really has taken on a life of his own.
And occasionally, I remember that very first meeting with Louis and the way he just popped into in my head. Where on earth had he come from? And did I find him or did he find me? Honestly, I don’t know.
But huge thanks for sixteen fabulous years in print.
You really have changed my life.
Smile on Louis.
COMING SOON: LOUIS THE LAUGH’S FAVOURITE JOKES AND . . .
THE GREAT LOUIS THE LAUGH QUIZ!