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Personally speaking - 'I saw a teacher whack a kid over the head with a register'

Who has been your biggest influence?

Sports journalist Brian Glanville, who wrote a book called Goalkeepers are Different. And I love Roald Dahl.

Why did you give up teaching to become an author?

I wanted to find out if I could actually do this writing thing and make a decent success out of it. I haven't looked back since, although I still go into schools. Sometimes I work as a writer-in-residence for a week, or over a term.

What was your worst moment in teaching?

I once went to a very, very tough secondary school with extremely challenging kids. I think I managed to win about half of them round but there were some kids who didn't want to be in school at all.

Which pupil are you most proud of?

There are too many to mention. Sometimes kids really surprise me.

What is the best piece of advice you were ever given?

Wendy Dixon, a former headteacher, told me to be firm but fair when working with children; to set the boundaries but try to be on their side.

What was the most outrageous thing a colleague ever did?

I once saw someone whack a kid over the head with a register; it was many, many years ago.

What would you be if you hadn't become a teacher?

I would have tried to have been a footballer, but I was never good enough.

What car do you drive?

A teacher's car, a Ford Fiesta.

What was the last book you read?

Happiness by Will Ferguson.

Are you tech savvy or a Luddite?

Somewhere in the middle.

What household appliance can you not live without?

I'm in love with my Dustbuster.

What is the worst homework excuse you've heard?

It got burnt in a cooking accident.

Interview by Anne Joseph

Jonny Zucker is an author of teenage fiction. The first in his Max Flash book series won the Nottingham Mega Reads Award in 2009. He used to be a primary teacher, but gave it up in 2002 to pursue a full-time career in writing. The latest in the series, 'Striker Boy', came out last month.

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