The hunting habits of the T-Rex. A slightly unorthodox baby-sleep trick. How to enlist a massive US actor as a super fan. Yep, M&Blearnt a lot during a 15-minute interview with Tom Fletcher and Dougie Poynter
As well as being in a band and – in Tom’s case – enjoying new dad life with five-month-old son Buzz, the McFly-turned-McBusted pair are behind a series of kids’ books, the third of which has just been released.
The Dinosaur That Pooped The Past sticks with the key themes of the first two stories – dinosaurs and poo – but adds in a bit of time travel that toddlers will love.
M&B caught up with Tom and Dougie to find out why dinosaurs make them tick and how Buzz is getting on.
Q: So, what’s your writing process?
Tom: There are fields at the back of my house and one of them has a fallen tree. If it’s sunny, we just go and sit there to write. It’s like we’re pretending to be in Winnie The Pooh – all that’s missing is a picnic basket. Although last time we were there, a massive swarm of bees flew really closely past us. I was like “Dougie, don’t move”. It was one of the weirdest moments of my life.
Q: What is it about dinosaurs that make them good for children’s books?
Dougie: Dinosaurs are rad. Although apparently the T-Rex wasn’t actually a hunter – he was a giant scavenger that probably had feathers. If you think about it, all the hunters we have these days are pretty epic, fast and agile, but the T-Rex was huge with tiny puny hands and bad vision.
Tom: We both grew up loving dinosaurs, like Dougie used to breed reptiles…
Dougie: Which aren’t dinosaurs.
Tom: No, but they’re in the same vein.
Dougie: I loved Denver, the Last Dinosaur growing up. My mum took me to the Natural History Museum for the first time when I was three because she was trying to explain to me what Denver and dinosaurs were. I was blown away.
Q: Tom, what’s it like being able to read the books to Buzz?
Tom: Really, really cool. He can’t completely understand what the stories are about – he just likes the pictures and the fact that I read them stupidly. But I actually want to stop reading them to him, so that when he’s old enough to understand, he won’t know what’s coming and will laugh. It’s like if I tell him every day that Darth Vadar is Luke’s dad, he won’t have the shock moment when he sees The Empire Strikes Back.
Q: How’s he getting on?
Tom: He can sit up on his own now and grab things. We’ll start him on solids soon, too – I sit with my cereal bowl on his highchair and he watches my mouth as I eat and practices chewing… like he’s working it out.
He can’t crawl yet, but if you put him on the floor on his front, he’ll suddenly end up here [gestures along the floor] and facing the other way. I don’t know how. It’s like when you watch a snail: it doesn’t move, but as soon as you turn your back…
Q: Dougie, are you the best with Buzz out of the boys in the band?
Dougie: Because there’s nobody else here I’m going to go with ‘Yes’. Actually, I’m better than Tom with him.
Tom: Dougie rapped Buzz to sleep once. I think it was an N.W.A one. Completely inappropriate… but it worked.
Q: Tom, the YouTube wedding and pregnancy videos you made with your wife Giovanna were massive hits. Have you got plans for any more?
Tom: Not at the moment. We want to do more but since having Buzz, and of course everything with the band, I just haven’t had time. We couldn’t believe how popular they were, though.
Dougie: Aaron Paul from Breaking Bad was a fan. A few months ago, I was hanging out with him and he asked what I did. I explained I was in a band and must’ve said something that made him realise it was with Tom. He knew the video and was totally stoked, a massive fan of Tom [laughs]. I was like “I know that guy. He’s not as cool as you think… I wrote it all for him”.
Q: Tom, do you have a parenting tip for new dads?
Tom: The first month is hard as it’s so brand new. But the mum carries the baby, gives birth, and generally has that instant bond.
And dads don’t start really getting that until about a month in – when your baby recognises you coming into a room, gives you smiles and you’re the one making them laugh.
So, I’d say it’s about patience and, for those first few weeks, looking after mum and making sure she can care for your baby the best she can.
Q: Finally, do you both have a favourite moment in the new book?
Both: The poo bit.
Tom: Actually, my favourite part is when they loop-the-loop on the swing to go back in time.
Dougie: It’s never been proven that once you do that you won’t time travel. So who knows?
Tom: And if anyone has done it, they probably haven’t come back.
The Dinosaur That Pooped The Past by Tom Fletcher & Dougie Poynter is out to buy now.