How We Met: Marianne Levy & Andy Stanton


Marianne Levy, 33

Levy began writing and performing at Cambridge University as part of the Footlights theatrical club, then spent a decade as an actress and voiceover artist, before writing her first children's book. She lives in north London

If you haven't read his books, Andy might seem quite odd when you first meet him. His legs are constantly jiggling around, he has this big hair and he doodles like crazy when you talk to him. Some people just have extra life distilled into them and Andy has an extraordinary creative energy that flows out of him.

Just before I met Andy, I was working as a jobbing actor and doing some comedy, but I was secretly trying to write a kids' book about a young actress called Ellie May. My agent said, "You must read this book by Andy Stanton called You're a Bad Man, Mr Gum!." Reading it felt like a bomb had gone off in my head; it made me realise there's a market for funny books for children without having to write down to them.

I found him on Twitter and got in touch. We started tweeting jokes to each other and it turned out he lived a mile down the road. So I said, "Let's meet up for a drink." We actually went on a couple of dates, though it quickly became apparent that we weren't suited, and we became friends.

I told him I was writing a book – and with the same publisher as him, Egmont – but not anything else about it as we were now friends and I didn't want to bring work into it. But his editor secretly sent him my manuscript so Andy asked if I minded him reading it. I said of course not and he said, "Cool, I already read it – and I liked it." It was a huge relief.

I hate words like zany, but his books are brilliantly off-the-wall, and I love the way he plays around with words.

Being a writer can be really lonely, so to have someone like Andy to hang out with is great. He experiences the world very intensely. He'll say, "I like to sit in a room and run my eyes across all the surfaces and imagine what they feel like, without going over to touch them." It makes for invigorating company and when I'm with him I experience the world differently, too. But underneath this interesting-looking guy with the quirky persona, I've found something else: a kind, generous man who's also the leading light of his generation.

Andy Stanton, 38

Stanton spent 10 years in various jobs, from stand-up comedian to film-script reader, cartoonist to NHS lackey before writing his first book, 'You're a Bad Man, Mr Gum!'. The best-selling Mr Gum series has since won him various awards, including the Roald Dahl Funny Prize. He lives in north London

Marianne's quite a softie, but the first time I saw her she was decked out in so much leather I thought she was a wallet. We'd first met on Twitter, and as Marianne thought we might get on we met up for a drink. I thought she was charming, but I think we both decided romance was not the road to go down; we went on a different path labelled "very good friends indeed" instead.

Marianne is insane. She goes through life with these bizarre little fears which are also rather endearing. Such as when she's using the Tube: rather than get off at the nearest stop to a destination, she'll avoid certain stations. Then there was the time she came to my house during a thunderstorm, looking like an animated refugee mouse. I had to pull all the blinds down and put on loud music before she'd venture in from the hallway.

But Marianne is great as she not only goes along with my silliness, she is an enabler of my indulgences, too. You know you've got a good friend when you can go on a four-day adventure in the psycho community that is the Edinburgh Festival, get out of your mind on beer, comedy and sleeplessness, and drag her to a gig at 1.30am and still get on.

I knew she did voiceovers for TV shows and was friendly with lots of comedians, but at some point she began mumbling about a book of hers that was finally finished. I know I look like a shambles – and everyone thinks that if you're writing kids' stuff you sleep in a big bed made of cheese and get up and play in clouds – but I'm quite smart when it comes to getting the best deal and I was happy to advise her. I have the mindset that 90 per cent of everything is rubbish, so I read her book behind her back. Unusually for me, I barked out laughing; that's pretty impressive. It's delightfully done and just as kooky as she is.

'Ellie May Would Like to be Taken Seriously for a Change' by Marianne Levy is published by Egmont, priced £5.99. Andy Stanton appears at the Edinburgh Book Festival tomorrow at the RBS Main Theatre, and on Tuesday at the RBS Story Box. See for more details

Start your day with The Independent, sign up for daily news emails
Latest stories from i100
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
Independent Dating

By clicking 'Search' you
are agreeing to our
Terms of Use.

iJobs Job Widget
iJobs People

Ashdown Group: Human Resources Manager

£28000 - £35000 per annum + Benefits: Ashdown Group: A successful organisation...

Recruitment Genius: Internal Recruiter - Manufacturing

£20000 - £30000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: An Internal Recruiter (manufact...

Ashdown Group: HR Manager (CIPD) - Barking / East Ham - £50-55K

£50000 - £55000 per annum + 25 days holidays & benefits: Ashdown Group: HR Man...

Recruitment Genius: Operations / Project Manager

£40000 - £48000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: This software company specialis...

Day In a Page

The long walk west: they fled war in Syria, only to get held up in Hungary – now hundreds of refugees have set off on foot for Austria

They fled war in Syria...

...only to get stuck and sidetracked in Hungary
From The Prisoner to Mad Men, elaborate title sequences are one of the keys to a great TV series

Title sequences: From The Prisoner to Mad Men

Elaborate title sequences are one of the keys to a great TV series. But why does the art form have such a chequered history?
Giorgio Armani Beauty's fabric-inspired foundations: Get back to basics this autumn

Giorgio Armani Beauty's foundations

Sumptuous fabrics meet luscious cosmetics for this elegant look
From stowaways to Operation Stack: Life in a transcontinental lorry cab

Life from the inside of a trucker's cab

From stowaways to Operation Stack, it's a challenging time to be a trucker heading to and from the Continent
Kelis interview: The songwriter and sauce-maker on cooking for Pharrell and crying over potatoes

Kelis interview

The singer and sauce-maker on cooking for Pharrell
Refugee crisis: David Cameron lowered the flag for the dead king of Saudi Arabia - will he do the same honour for little Aylan Kurdi?

Cameron lowered the flag for the dead king of Saudi Arabia...

But will he do the same honour for little Aylan Kurdi, asks Robert Fisk
Our leaders lack courage in this refugee crisis. We are shamed by our European neighbours

Our leaders lack courage in this refugee crisis. We are shamed by our European neighbours

Humanity must be at the heart of politics, says Jeremy Corbyn
Joe Biden's 'tease tour': Could the US Vice-President be testing the water for a presidential run?

Joe Biden's 'tease tour'

Could the US Vice-President be testing the water for a presidential run?
Britain's 24-hour culture: With the 'leisured society' a distant dream we're working longer and less regular hours than ever

Britain's 24-hour culture

With the 'leisured society' a distant dream we're working longer and less regular hours than ever
Diplomacy board game: Treachery is the way to win - which makes it just like the real thing

The addictive nature of Diplomacy

Bullying, betrayal, aggression – it may be just a board game, but the family that plays Diplomacy may never look at each other in the same way again
Lady Chatterley's Lover: Racy underwear for fans of DH Lawrence's equally racy tome

Fashion: Ooh, Lady Chatterley!

Take inspiration from DH Lawrence's racy tome with equally racy underwear
8 best children's clocks

Tick-tock: 8 best children's clocks

Whether you’re teaching them to tell the time or putting the finishing touches to a nursery, there’s a ticker for that
Charlie Austin: Queens Park Rangers striker says ‘If the move is not right, I’m not going’

Charlie Austin: ‘If the move is not right, I’m not going’

After hitting 18 goals in the Premier League last season, the QPR striker was the great non-deal of transfer deadline day. But he says he'd preferred another shot at promotion
Isis profits from destruction of antiquities by selling relics to dealers - and then blowing up the buildings they come from to conceal the evidence of looting

How Isis profits from destruction of antiquities

Robert Fisk on the terrorist group's manipulation of the market to increase the price of artefacts
Labour leadership: Andy Burnham urges Jeremy Corbyn voters to think again in last-minute plea

'If we lose touch we’ll end up with two decades of the Tories'

In an exclusive interview, Andy Burnham urges Jeremy Corbyn voters to think again in last-minute plea