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28th May, 2022

Author draws on schooldays in Rugby as inspiration for debut novel

THE TEENAGE years of a former Rugby schoolboy have provided the inspiration for his debut novel.

Andrew Batty, who was a pupil of Harris Church of England Secondary School – now Harris Academy – from 1975 to 1977, has published The Boy and the Briefcase and the Moose.

Now an architect who designs schools, Harborough Magna-born Andrew drew inspiration from his memories of the differences between his fellow pupils and students who went to private school.

The tale centres around a student exchange between Rugby School and the fictional ‘Harribold School’, and a group of Harribold students who are tasked with guiding two private school students through the madness, mischief and miscreants of their new surroundings.

Andrew said: “Secondary school is a mad place full of crazy kids. You take a whole heap of mismatched misfits and squeeze them into a small space – something interesting is bound to happen.

“Emotions are running high, there’s cringing embarrassment, heroic achievement, dismal failure, ludicrous hilarity, and yearning by the bucket load.

“Those are the ingredients I wanted in a story. School seemed the perfect setting, and pupils the perfect subjects.

“It’s a book about awkward moments, impossible situations and desperate circumstances; red faces, cold sweats and serious cringing; putting your heart on the line and hoping it isn’t squashed by the first train into the station. In short, it’s a book about being a teenager.”

The story, set in the 70s, reflects Andrew’s fond memories of his schooldays in Rugby.

He said: “I really enjoyed school. I wasn’t the brightest pupil, and I certainly wasn’t the best behaved, but I had a great time.

“One great thing about Harris was that we were all equal. There was no intellectual snobbery.

“Although my book is a work of fiction, I am hoping some of the fun and foolishness I experienced as a pupil comes across in the story.

“It’s a fun, quirky, fast-paced adventure set in a school, but I think it’s for everyone – teenagers learning about life, old folks who have lived it, and everyone in between.”

However, he still can’t explain why he included a moose in the story. “It just sort of happened,” he said. “I was happily typing away, and suddenly this moose appeared in the text. It would have been such a shame to get rid of it, so it stayed.”

The Boy and the Briefcase and the Moose, published by The Book Guild Publishing, is available from bookshops. Visit www.andrewbattyauthor.co.uk for more information.

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