Robert Kilgore Muchamore, born on December 26th 1972 in Tufnell Park, North London.
My dad was a milkman, my mum worked as a cleaning lady. It was a big house with grandparents upstairs, more family next door and a vicious budgie called Joey. I was the youngest of four kids. Del was a typical big brother (sometimes a complete git, sometimes my best friend…). My big sister Jenny was my favorite because she was sixteen years older than me and bought me Lego.
My first school was St Johns Upper Holloway. I was a geeky kid, who hated playing football, dreaded Friday afternoon swimming lessons and mostly liked building Lego and being alone reading books.
Mauled by escaped panda at London Zoo... actually that's a total lie. But when I got to year seven I moved to Acland Burghley secondary school.
1984 & 85
The best bit of school was years eight and nine when my school closed to have asbestos removed and we got bussed to another school for two years. At the same time all the teachers kept going on strike.
Strikes, traffic jams and coaches not turning up made life manic and we got about two days of school per week! I'd spend most days at my mates' houses, trying to set high scores on our state-of-the-art Atari 2600 consoles.
By 14 I'd decided to either be an architect, a photographer or a writer. When I looked in the careers guide and saw it took seven years training to become an architect, I decided that was too much like hard work and concentrated on the other two.
I got my first Saturday job working in a Jessop camera shop. This put me off photography, so I saved up my wages to buy a Brother word processor, on which I planned to write my first novel. Full of teen optimism, the only obstacles in my way were a complete lack of experience, ability and talent.
After two solid years of doing no work, I emerged from school with a D grade A-level in Economics. I spent summer dossing around the house, until my dad said he'd kick me out if I didn't get a job.
I was turned down by Marks & Spencer, The Financial Times post room and the Diplomatic Service, but landed a job as an office junior with a firm of heir hunters called Fraser & Fraser.
(If you want to know what heir hunting is, the BBC made a series called Heir Hunters which is filmed where I used to work)
The nineties were pretty dull for me. If you're reading this to help with your school project and want to make it more exciting, this would be a really good point to make some stuff up. Here are three suggestions:
- I had a mutant spider baby with a former Eastenders star.
- I won a big Hot Dog Eating competition.
- I hit a casino jackpot, then lost my fortune in bitter divorce.
Still working as an heir hunter. I took two months off to visit my sister in Australia and found my twelve-year-old nephew moaning that he couldn't find any interesting stuff to read.
This gave me an idea...
I began writing a book with the uninspiring title KN1 (Kids Novel 1). This eventually became The Recruit, but it was way more violent. In the original opening James went psycho and slashed Samantha Jennings' face open with broken glass!
I finished writing my book – the title was now CHERUB - and finally decided it was good enough to send to a literary agent.
The second agent I contacted took me on. She printed off copies and sent it to all the major children's publishers. Over the months that followed we got a bunch of rejections.
In March 2003 Hodder Children's Books purchased CHERUB (Later renamed The Recruit) and an unwritten sequel, both for publication in 2004.
I was scared that my book wouldn't get a publisher and didn't want everyone to keep asking how things were going, so I didn’t tell any of my friends or family that I'd written a book until I knew it was definitely getting published. I gave mum my first proof copy of The Recruit on her 70th birthday. I thought it might be a big emotional moment, but she just looked a bit confused.
I think she would have preferred flowers…
CHERUB: The Recruit was published in April 2004 and not many people noticed. But the first CHERUB fans were a small-but-fanatical group and the book sold well for a first novel.
In October Class A came out. It got a good reaction from fans, but it sold more slowly than The Recruit and I started getting seriously worried. Meanwhile I was working a full-time job and spending every spare minute writing Maximum Security and The Killing.
CHERUB finally started to take off with the release of Maximum Security. The Recruit won the Red House award and was published in Germany.
By the middle of the year I was exhausted from two years of writing and working. When growing book sales coincided with me throwing a box of wet wipes at my boss and calling him a rude name, I quit to write full time.
The first two Henderson's Boys books were published in the UK.
I'd moved into a cool house. I was making good money and traveling all over the world to talk about my books. I should have been happy but I got this weird sense that I’d achieved everything I ever wanted and had no idea what to do with the rest of my life.
I got really depressed and suicidal and wound up spending three months in a psychiatric hospital. There’s probably some moral here about being careful what you wish for.
Worst year ever…
After not working for over a year, my brain was almost back to whatever normal is supposed to be.
I'd had a brilliant idea to write a series called Rock War. The four-book saga took my writing in a new direction, with the story of four groups of kids who want to make it big in the music business.
While writing the 17th CHERUB book, I realized it was getting stupidly hard to create plots that I haven’t done before and to keep the series fresh.
I’d thought about stopping CHERUB before (Most notably after James turned eighteen in Shadow Wave) but this time it felt like there was nowhere new or exciting to go.
The final CHERUB book, New Guard was published. The series was now published in 26 languages with sales rapidly approaching fifteen million copies.
Nobody bought Rock War...
My first standalone novel, Killer T, will be published in September.