Frank Murphy answers questions about Charlie Harte

Thursday 14th March 2013 by Support

Frank Murphy answers questions from young readers about Charlie Harte and his Two-wheeled Tiger.

Cork author Frank Murphy was asked questions by third class pupils (aged 8-9), in Eglantine Primary School, County Cork, about the inspiration behind the book and its characters, and whether he knows any of them.

Q1 Where did you get the idea for Charlie Harte and his Two-wheeled Tiger?
It began with wondering what a poor boy could do to get a bike of his own.

Q2 Was The Hair based on a real person?
His physical appearance was based on that of a pop star. I wanted him to look different, and that pop star's appearance suggested itself to me.

Q3 How long did it take to write Charlie Harte and his Two-wheeled Tiger?
On and off, about three months.

Q4 Where do you get the names?
Mostly I just think of a name, and if I think it fits, I use it.

Q5 How did you come up with a talking bike?
This was something that developed as I was writing the story. When I had got Charlie a home-made bike, and realised how delighted he was to have a bike of his very own -- and that he had become very fond of it, talking to it in the morning, and so on -- I felt that the bike should be able to communicate with him. I spent a long time trying to work out how this could be done. I dismissed the idea of the bike being able to make sounds that could be heard through the air, and decided that the sounds would have to travel in some other way. Eventually I came up with the idea of the sounds coming through a wire, like a telephone, and it was an easy step from there to the walkman.

Q6 Who is your favourite character in the book?

Q7 Why did you decide Charlie's bike would be like a tiger?
This came about because the children had only small quantities of paint of different colours. They put the different colours on in stripes, and I thought they might see it as being like a tiger.

Q8 Will you write another book about Charlie?
I have no plans to do it at the moment.

Q9 Is Charlie based on a real person?
No. He is based on any boy who would like to have a bike and can't afford one.

Q10 Are the other characters based on real people?
Every character is based in some way on real people, not necessarily on a one-to-one basis. A writer can use bits of one person combined with bits of others to make the character in the story. Miko is probably the one character who is based entirely on a real person.

Q11 How did you think of bike robbing?
A story is mainly about problems and ways of solving them. I had to create a problem for Charlie, and the one I thought of was depriving him of his bike.

Q12 When you were young, did you try to make a bike?
No. I knew so little about mechanical things like wheelbarrows and bicycles that if I tried to make one, I have no doubt it would have exploded.

Q13 What is your favourite part of the book?
The part I liked best while writing it was when the bike spoke for the first time to Charlie. I really loved writing, 'Charlie, you're an ass!'

Q14 Why did you write Charlie Harte and not something else?
Because I'm me.

Q15 Why did you make Charlie poor instead of rich?
Rich people don't have a story worth telling. You will find it very hard to make a story interesting if your main character doesn't have a problem.


Frank Murphy