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What inspired The Demon Headmaster?

Award-winning author Gillian Cross’s unforgettable Demon Headmaster series is being launched as a brand-new television series on CBBC. To celebrate, we’ve caught up with Gillian and asked her: where did you get the idea for the Demon Headmaster?

Where did I get the idea for the Demon Headmaster?

The idea came from one of my daughters.

“Why don’t you write a book about a wicked headmaster?” she said.

“Maybe,” I said. “One day.” (Which is what parents say when they mean no. I like to invent my own stories.)

My daughter didn’t give up. She kept reminding me about the idea. Then one day an editor phoned, to ask if I had any ideas for new books.

“How about a wicked headmaster story?” I said – without thinking.

“Great!” said the editor. “I need it by the end of July.” And he rang off.

“Oh dear!” I thought. “Now I’ll have to write that wicked headmaster book.” (Which is NOT how you ought to feel when you start a book.)

I sat down with a new pad of paper, which is how I like to begin, picked up my pen – and suddenly thought: But how can a headmaster be wicked? Why wouldn’t all the children go home and tell their parents???

Disaster! I’d promised to write an impossible book. There was no way to make the story work – unless the headmaster could send the children home at the end of the day saying, “I think the headmaster is a marvellous man, and this is the best school I’ve ever been to.”

Unless he could…

That was when I thought of hypnotism. I could write about a headmaster who hypnotised the whole school!

My brain went into overdrive as I imagined it. No more nagging about not running along the corridors. No more reminders about tidy handwriting. Everything in the Headmaster’s school would be perfect. I picked up my pen.

I can have such fun with this story! I thought. (Which is EXACTLY how you ought to feel when you start a book!)

Download your own storyboard

My storyboard

My storyboard

Has Gillian’s story inspired you? Download our free storyboard template and use it to plan and create your very own story. Don’t forget to include a beginning, middle and end!

Download activity sheet

Also from Gillian Cross

More from Oxford Owl

Books

Please note: all book links lead to more information on Amazon.co.uk

How to Write Your Best Story Ever

How to Write Your Best Story Ever!

Christopher Edge

From how to overcome writer’s block to what words to use to best effect, How to Write your Best Story Ever! is designed to help all children unlock their story ideas and write their own best ever stories.

Packed with entertaining illustrations that will inspire your child, this book is filled with tips on how to write in particular genres, create exciting characters, and write powerful sentences using metaphors, similes, and idioms.

Buy on Amazon

How To Be A Young #Writer

How To Be A Young #Writer

Christopher Edge

This book will help children learn to craft brilliant stories, create believable characters, write powerful endings and much more. Packed with practical tips and insider advice from published authors, this guide opens up the secrets of how to write well and guides young writers all the way through from beating the fear of the blank page and learning to edit their work, to how to get other people reading their stories.

Buy on Amazon

Write Your Best Story Ever! Notebook

Write Your Best Story Ever! Notebook

Christopher Edge

A must-have notebook to unlock the imagination and inspire children to start writing. Full of great hints and tips, and activity pages for jotting down words, sketching characters, and writing in stories. A perfect companion to How To Write Your Best Story Ever!

Buy on Amazon

The Demon Headmaster

The Demon Headmaster

Gillian Cross

Something weird is happening at Dinah Hunter’s school. The children are too well behaved – almost like robots. What strange power does the eerie headmaster hold over them… and can anyone resist?

Buy on Amazon

The Demon Headmaster

The Demon Headmaster: Mortal Danger

Gillian Cross

When Lizzie’s school gets a new head teacher everything seems great. The pupils are encouraged to do the things they really love, experts are brought in to inspire them; there’s even a competition to win an adventure trip of a lifetime. Lizzie and her friends can’t believe their luck!

But then Lizzie hears a voice. A voice strange but familiar. A voice that says, ‘I will obey all your instructions.’ And that’s when things start to get dangerous…

Buy on Amazon

Demon Headmaster and the Prime Minister's Brain

The Demon Headmaster and the Prime Minister’s Brain

Gillian Cross

Octopus Dare is the new computer game. Everyone at school is playing it, but are they becoming a bit too obsessed? The game is addictive – or should that be hypnotic?

Could this have something to do with the Demon Headmaster… and his daring new target?

Buy on Amazon

Revenge of the Demon Headmaster

The Revenge of the Demon Headmaster

Gillian Cross

When Ingrid turns up at a SPLAT meeting she is raving about Hunky Parker, a new TV show. It’s the latest craze, she says, and soon everyone will be hooked. The other SPLAT members disagree – until they watch for themselves and something weird happens… Could this be a fad, or something far more sinister?

Buy on Amazon