An interview with Dave Lowe

I’ve been given the task of interviewing Dave Lowe, author of My Hamster Is A Genius. To be honest, I would have preferred a writer who was my intellectual equal, but presumably all the clever writers were busy

Stinky: Dave, I believe you had a pet hamster when you were young. Could you tell us about him?
Dave: Well, he was just a regular hamster. Nothing like you. He wasn’t grumpy or sarcastic. In fact, he didn’t talk at all. His name was ‘Flavour’.

Stinky: That’s a rather silly name. 
Dave: So says a hamster called ‘Jasper Stinkybottom’!

Stinky: As you well know, it was actually my owner Ben who gave me the name. Which brings me to my next question: Like you, Ben isn’t so bright. When you were nine, were you similar to Ben? 
Dave: Probably. I was mostly good, but I could be a bit naughty sometimes. I didn’t have a sister, though. I had two brothers, and neither of them did tap-dancing.

Stinky: At recent book festivals in Cheltenham and Bath, you met Simon Bartram and Emma Dodd, who are not only talented writers, but also amazing illustrators. I’ve seen your pictures, on the other hand. They look like they were drawn by a three year-old. A blindfolded three year-old. Are you jealous? 
Dave: A bit, but both of those illustrators have been practising their drawing for years and years. I was never so interested in art. Besides, I love Mark Chambers’ pictures for My Hamster Is A Genius – I’ve just seen his pictures for the second book, My Hamster Is An Astronaut, and they are fabulous, too. My favourite picture so far, though, is that one in Genius of you wearing a tutu. It makes me smile every time.

Stinky: (Blushing, twitching) Moving on, have you always wanted to be a writer? 
Dave: Yes, pretty much. I remember also wanting to be a footballer or an astronaut but a) I’m no Wayne Rooney and b) I’m scared of heights. I’ve always loved reading, and I’ve been writing things since I was 7 or 8.

Stinky: I am also an avid reader – I love Tolstoy and Dickens and lots of other big books that you almost certainly wouldn’t understand. What kind of books do you like, and what books did you like when you were younger? 
Dave: I love Charles Dickens, actually. He’s not difficult to read at all. My favourite book is probably The Adventures of Huckleberry Finn by Mark Twain, which I first read when I was 16. When I was young, like most kids I absolutely loved Roald Dahl (Charlie and the Chocolate Factory was my favourite, but I think I read all of his books). I also loved the football books of Michael Hardcastle and the ‘Mystery’ books of Enid Blyton.

Stinky: Dave Lowe – thank you, and good luck with your writing career. You’ll need it. 
Dave: Thanks. I think.

If you want to know more about Dave, he has also written a mildly amusing post on Templar's blog here

Top 5 Most Stressful Homework Assignments

1. My holiday – perilous even to consider a holiday with Ben’s family.
2. Maths
3. Double maths
4. Biology dissection – I feel very sorry for that poor frog…
5. Science lesson – if you’re not careful you can end up in a one-hamster rocket, heading for outerspace*

* You’ll have to wait for My Hamster is an Astronaut for further explanation no this matter. 

Hamster fact No 3: The name “hamster” is derived from the German word “hamstern” which means “to hoard”.

Ben Mum’s Top Suppers

Toast with beans – Lucy loves these

Cheese on Toast
Toast with jam
Toast with marmalade
Toast on toast – Ben’s personal favourite.

 Hamster Fact: Hamsters don’t like baths – seriously, we can catch a chill and die, so don’t try and give us a bath.

Favourite Fashion Disasters

In the aftermath of London Fashion Week, Stinky share's his fashion faux pas: 
Clashing colours, telephone hats, socks with sandals – let me tell you, they’ve got nothing on these hideous fashion statements:
 Ben’s dad in a dress:

    Lucy’s monkey suit:
Me in a tutu:
 Beardy’s pink beard:

What’s the most embarrassing outfit you’ve ever worn, or your parent’s have worn?

Lunchtime musings

Stinky’s Ode to a Carrot inspired by William Wordsworth 

I scurried lonely as a mouse
That hides amongst the flowerpots
When all at once I saw a field
A plot of gleaming carrot tops
Beside the lake, beneath the trees,
Fluttering temptingly in the breeze.
Row on row, from edge to edge
They stretched in never-ending line
Along the border of the hedge
Orange heads twinkling in the sunshine
Ten thousand saw I at a glance,
Tossing their leaves in sprightly dance.

As you can see I really, really like carrots…

My favourite things about carrots
They’re orange
They’re crunchy
They go with all food groups including cake
They’re healthy
They help you see in the dark

My favourite carrot cuisine 
Baked carrot soufflé
Carrot cordon bleu
Carrot tartare
Carrot fricasse
Carrot en croute

Today is International Hamster Day

I am officially naming today International Hamster Day, and have drawn up my International Bill of Hamster Rights.

1. Every hamster should have a clean, well-furnished cage.

2. Every hamster should have fresh carrot, seed or other vegetable crudité to munch on.

3. Every hamster should have a loving family, someone to look after them and talk to them.

4. Every hamster should have the right to express themselves and the freedom of free hamster speech.
5. Every hamster should have the right to play in a safe, non-perilous environment.

Since it’s International Hamster Day, why not draw a picture of your favourite Hamster. You can send drawings or photographs to and the best ones might make it on here...

Hamster Facts No 1: Hamsters don’t like baths – seriously, we can catch a chill and die, so don’t try and give us a bath.

Stinky's top 5 perilous situations

If you read my book – ok, Dave Lowe’s book – My Hamster is a Genius, you’ll discover, thanks to Ben and his Dad, that I often find myself in very perilous situations. But I like a bit of danger, so I’m reliving my exploits with this Top 5

Top 5 Most unpleasant places to find yourself in

1. Inside Ben's pants – not pleasant and not somewhere I indeed on frequenting. The one time I found myself there, was to hide from Ben’s meany maths teacher has left me seriously claustrophobic – not EVER happening again!
2. Attached to a small lunchbox whilst flying through the air – almost as bad as being strapped to a frisbee mid flight – almost…

3. Inside a homemade spaceship, strapped to a firework, in your neighbours back garden – this was SO not in my job description.

4. Inside a dolls house, dressed in a tutu, sipping tea with Barbie and Ken – well actually the tea was ok and I liked the cucumber sandwiches, but the tutu is a no-no and to be honest Barbie and Ken are a little dull.

5. Under a size 10 shoe, pumping up and down like a mechanical crusher 
 What are your top 5 most unpleasant places?

Weekly stats

Rotations on wheel: 30 (think I might have pulled a muscle last week...)
Seeds consumed: 120 (I need to make up for all last week's exercise)
Poos not collected: 20 (yuk, Ben has been preoccupied with enjoying the summer...tssk)
Newspaper fragments read: 6
Homework helped: 0 (this summer holidays business is going to turn my brain to mush)
Sarcastic comments: 2 (all this nice weather has improved my mood)

Stinky's Family tree - Who do I think I am?

As you may have gathered, I am a superior hamster, one with far more brains than your average mouse or gerbil. So it will come as no surprise to hear that I come from a long line of rodent genii, (that’s the plural of genius for those at the back).
Archimedes’s hamster Eureka
Now, Archimedes was a very clever Geek bloke, who worked out the reason why some things float on water and others don’t. It is a lesser-known fact that his hamster was called Eureka, and he liked to turn the cold water on whilst Archimedes was having a bath.

Albertus Hamstein
Pet of Einstein, physicist and inventor of the m=mc2, that’s Mmmm = my carrot squared, for those of you who don’t know…

Josy, the war hamster
Forget horses and canaries, the real heroes of WWII were hamsters. A crack core of spy-trained hamsters was used to infiltrate German code headquarters and discover the secrets of the Enigma machine. Those boffins from Bletchley Park took all the credit but I tell you, it was the hamster that won it, and Josy Baker was one of their top agents.

Gladys Burns
Faithful pet to Scottish poet Robert Burns. You can imagine her annoyance when the famous poem is title To a Mouse, rather than To a Hamster – she didn’t speak to Robbie for a month…

The Hamster of Alcatrazaban
Wrongly imprisoned for a crime he didn’t commit, this plucky little fellow managed to escape the infamous prison of Alcatrazaban. He, along with his friends, survive as soldiers of fortune. If you have a problem, if no one else can help you, maybe you can call The H-Team.

 Hamsters are exceedingly good storytellers, and it was none other than Sherhamazad (Shermy to her friends) one of my relatives who whispers those tales in One Thousand and One Nights, into the ear of Princess Scheherazade – saved her life Shermy did.

Why not create your own family tree? Who can you trace your ancestors back to?

Right, time for a bite to eat. I think I’ll have a sunflower seeds salad, with shavings of carrot. Delicious!

Weekly stats

Rotations on wheel: 108 (caught up by Olympic fever)
Seeds consumed: 120 (Well, all that running...)
Poos not collected: 7 (It's summer holidays so Ben has no excuse!)
Newspaper fragments read: 10 (Although hamster news has been horribly over shadowed by the Olympics)
Homework helped: 0 (Summer holidays have begun)
Sarcastic comments: too many to count (see above = Ben's brain has already turned to mush)

Summer reads

Summer’s here, so why not check out the Summer Reading Challenge at your local library?
Ben’s given me his top five summer reads, and it didn’t take me long to work out which books I’m going to re-read this summer.

Top 5 Summer Reads – according to Ben

My Hamster is a Genius – obviously
Mr Gum in the Hamster of Lamonic Bibber
Diary of a Wimpy Hamster
Horrid Hamster
The Fantastic Mr Hamster

Top 5 Summer Reads – according to Stinky

War and Peace – like living with the Jinks family, only more epic.
The Complete Works of Shakespeare – “Is this a carrot which I see before me/Its orange tip toward my paw? Come, let me munch thee.”

Chaucer’s Canterbury Tales – in original middle English.
A Brief History of Time – a good example of what an uninterrupted genius mind can achieve. (Take note, Benjamin Jinks.)

The Encyclopaedia Britannica – there’s stuff in here that even I didn’t know.

What are your top 5 books for summer reading fun?

Psst. If you're really stuck for things to occupy you this summer, click here to download my activity sheets

Top 5 perils for hamsters

Afternoon, and welcome to today’s Notes from the Hamster Wheel, coming direct to you from Casa Hamster Cage, chez Benjamin Jink’s bedroom – that’s a bit of Spanish for you (casa – means house) as well as a bit of French (chez – means at or from).

 I think it’s time we talked danger, peril and life or death situations. Now, I am a very courageous and brave hamster – but there are limits to my bravery, and there are numerous perils out there for small, furry creatures like me.

Top 5 – Perils for hamsters 

1. Outdoors – like anywhere outdoors. We don’t want to go there. It’s HUGE… and full of things that would like a nice hamster-sized snack. So please, don’t think you’d be doing me a favour by setting me free, or releasing me into the wild. It’s called WILD for a reason.

2. A mate – do you want a hamster bloodbath, in your bedroom? I think not. We are SOLITARY creatures. That means we like it ON OUR OWN.

3. Cats, dogs and other household pets. Cats like to eat us and dogs like to chase us- both scenarios are not good, and can ultimately end in a nasty furball.

4. Being mistaken for a feather duster – yes I know I'm fluffy but really?

5. Sisters who want to play dress-up. I hate younger sisters (sorry if any younger sisters are reading this). Dressing-up with younger sisters usually involves tutus or tiaras and whilst not exactly life-threatening, it does nothing for a hamster’s self esteem or machismo.

Ooh, just talking of those perilous scenarios has made me come over all a-quiver. Scary stuff! I think I may need a fortifying spin on the old wheel, catch you later…

Weekly stats

Rotations on wheel: 47.5 (a stressful week, ok?)
Seeds consumed: 91 (trying to cut down)
Poos not collected: 37 (yuk, it’s so unhygienic)
Newspaper fragments read: 4 (slow week for hamster news stories)
Homework helped: 5 assignments (maths x 2, English and art)
Sarcastic comments: 8

Gold for Team GB

A gold for the ladies rowing team, congratulations Helen and Heather! All this medal talk has got me thinking about the Olympics, and what I would consider to be suitable Olympic sports for hamsters – none of that beach volleyball nonsense. The sand would get up my nose, for a start.

The Hamster Olympics 
1. Wheel turning – that gold medal has my name on it

2. Running for your life – who needs a starting gun when you have cats, birds and Benjamin’s Neanderthal classmates to choose from?
3. Cage rolling – strength is essential for this extreme sport, and it does depend on the type of cage you’re in, as to how easily you can roll it off the desk. Not for the faint-hearted or weak-stomached. 4. Pole vaulting – I recommend HB pencils as a good starting point. 
5. Carrot nibbling. I have to admit, it would not be the most entertaining spectator sport. Delicious, though.

Better get practising…

Welcome to Notes from the Hamster Wheel

My name is Jasper Stinkybottom, but you may call me Stinky.

For your information, I did not choose my name: that responsibility rests with one Benjamin Jinks, aged nine – but more of him later.

If you have chanced upon this virtual hamster blog looking for information about hamster feed, hamster wheels, bedding items for hamster or hamster snacks, you’re in the wrong place. For those things, check out the shelves of your local pet store or, as my owner Ben’s dad calls it, ‘the mini-zoo’.

If you would like more information on the extremely funny book MY HAMSTER IS A GENIUS by Dave Lowe, however, and some insider secrets about the lives and loves of hamsters, you are in the right place.

So I guess we should begin with a Meet the Family.

Here they are… 

A pretty motley crew, don’t you think? And believe me, you want to watch out for that one with pigtails – she may look like sugar and spice and all things nice, but she’s trouble, and likes dressing things up in tutus… *shudders at the thought*

And while we’re doing the introduction, you can read more about me – and the Jinks family – in my very own book. Look, that’s me on the cover…

And as you can read (you can read, can’t you?) I’m a G E N I U S – that spells (you can spell, right?) GENIUS. It means I’m super-smart.

In this excellent account of my first weeks with the Jinks family, you can discover how I help nine-year-old Benjamin Jinks (that was him bottom left of the Jinks family photo) to outsmart his scheming maths teacher, Beardy McCreedy. Along the way Ben gets better at Maths (well, a tiny bit, at least) and also slightly better at removing poo from my cage, which is much more important.

Anyway, you should check it out (in shops from August), it’s really rather something – if I do say so myself.

Right, time for a quick nap, this typing is quite tiring when you have tiny paws…

Find My Hamster is a Genius on Amazon here


Bookmark this site and check back on 1st August 2012, when My Hamster is a Genius by Dave Lowe and this blog launches!