An interview with Damian Dibben

We’ve over 20 different authors and illustrators speaking at next month’s FCBG annual conference, ‘Books and Beyond’, at Worth (April 11-13) and I for one can’t wait!

damiandibbenOne of the seminar speakers on the Saturday afternoon is Damian Dibben. Damian worked for many years in the film industry, as both an actor and a screenwriter (he’s worked with Danny Boyle, Michael Caine and even Al Pacino!) but now he writes full time. He has an office in Soho, where’s kept company by Dudley, his Jack Russell. One of his favourite aspects of being an author is the travel he gets to undertake as part of his research process for his series The History Keepers.

I recently asked Damian a few questions to whet our collective appetites for his seminar session at conference:

FCBG: Which historical figures would you like to invite for a dinner party and what food would you like to eat?

Damian Dibben: I would be intrigued to see how people with particular power interacted – Julius Caesar, Elizabeth I, Louis XIV, the first emperor Qin Shi Huang, and would be fascinated to discuss ideas with Newton, Cicero, Da Vinci, Galileo and Einstein – space/time is a particular obsession of mine. Dickens would be a great host. I might ask Elizabeth Tudor to bring along a hogroast for us all to eat.

FCBG: Which actors and director would you choose if you could choose any to make films of the History Keepers’ books?

Damian Dibben: Many of the main characters are young, so the actors may not be famous yet, but Asa Butterfield (who starred in Scorcese’s Hugo) would make a great Jake. Benedict Cumberbatch would be perfect as Jupitus and Sally Hawkins as Rose Djones. Alfonso Cuaron made the best Harry Potter film I think (The Prisoner of Azkaban) and Gravity of course was mind blowing, so he would be top of the list.

FCBG: Would you like to write the screenplay for any future film of the History Keepers (given your past as a screenwriter)? What is particularly enjoyable about writing for film as opposed for books, and vice versa?

Damian Dibben: I have actually written two drafts of a screenplay for the first History Keeper book, The Storm Begins, collaborating with Working Title who have optioned the books (Les Miserables, Billy Elliot, Atonement) I have been quite faithful to the plotline, but we may end up taking it in a slightly different direction – though with the same characters and premise of course. I enjoy the compact nature of film scripts – they are not usually more than 120 pages long – and you have to make every word count, which is great discipline. I would also describe myself as more visual than literary, which is why films had attracted my interest first.

FCBG: Could you tell us a little about your role as patron of the charity Kids in Museums?

Damian Dibben: I’m totally passionate about museums. I grew up in central London and from a young age continually visited The British Museum, The Tate, Science Museum, V & A and many more. These visits shaped my life and I am keen for other young people to have similar experiences. Kids In Museums is a brilliant charity, making things fun and accesible for kids. I still go to museums every week and my appetite for learning grows every year.

FCBG: Given their ability to move through time, could the History Keepers go forward in time in a future book? What sort of world might they encounter?

Damian Dibben: I love imagining the future and would enjoy writing about it, but I may not visit it in this particular series; the emphasis is on the civilisations of the past and the great people who shaped them, the inventors, explorers, pioneers, architects, world-changers – as well as history’s notorious villains. At some point, I might write another series set in future realms and in general I would be positive about mankind’s advancements. We often take steps back, but I believe essentially we progress.


My thanks go to Damian for our interview. Even if you can’t make it to conference to see Damian, do check out his books, say hello to him on Facebook, or find him on Twitter.

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