Charlie Higson: The author and actor talks zombies, dyed hair and telling dad jokes


Click to follow
The Independent Online

Unless the older generation gets out of the way, the younger generation can't take their place I'm interested in the Fisher King myth: how this old king was so frightened by the new generation that he wanted to kill them.

That is still a societal concern to the extent that we create this idea that teens are a terrible threat; that we are going to be attacked gangs of hoodies who are going to take out our kidneys. My "Enemy" series of books is about what happens if all adults became zombies, leaving kids trying to survive around London and avoid being eaten by their parents.

The great thing about horror in teen fiction is that it can deal with adult themes Dealing with it all on a fantasy level allows you to tackle issues such as disease, ageing and death, and kids can cope with it. They love violence and killing in stories, partly because they don't understand the consequences.

We send young men off to war as it's easier for them to kill They don't realise the full gravity of what they are doing, or how painful it is for parents to lose children. It's why there are child soldiers in Africa; you can get them to do terrible things as they don't yet know how precious life is.

Kids are more willing than adults to ask awkward questions I often give talks in schools and I'll never forget one question I was asked by a pupil in Kilburn, in north-west London. He said, "I don't mean to be rude, sir, but don't you think you could have done more with your life than write about zombies?" I was dumbstruck; I had a terrible existential crisis and I thought, Christ, he's right – what a way for a grown man to spend his days. I've always wanted to go to a literary festival and ask that same question to every writer, to make them stop and think.

We are all post-rock'n'roll now Those of us who grew up post-1960s, we've all had shaved heads or dyed hair, and been into loud, antisocial music. We've misbehaved, taken substances and been able to talk about it all. So it's harder for kids to rebel and establish themselves as being different. Compared with my father's generation, who grew up during the wartime and were more conservative, there's less of a gap between me and my kids than between me and my father.

Dubai looks like something out of a sci-fi film They run a great literary festival there, but when you first arrive, it feels like you've gone to the moon, living in this sealed bubble filled with building styles from all around Earth. There's an air of unreality and an unbridled fantasy in their architectural approach. And then when you go up the Burj Khalifa, the tallest tower in the world, there's the sea one side and on the other, past the city limits, dead desert as far as you can see.

Religions get taken over by men with beards The core of most religions is patriarchal and misogynistic, based around denying people everyday pleasures in order to control them. But I understand why people need the comfort and support religion gives them. If you're desperately poor, religion is a beacon. And I'm all for religions such as the Anglican Church of England family, a wishy-washy, "not really telling us to do anything in any direction" religion

Telling crap jokes is my worst habit I tell typical dad jokes; I'm always pretending to misunderstand what my kids are saying, which they're not that impressed by.

An actor-comedian and writer, Higson, 56, is the author of the Young Bond series of books, as well as the seven-part, young adult horror series, The Enemy. 'The Hunted', the penultimate novel in the series, is out now (£7.99, Puffin)