Guy Bass on SCRAP and his favourite sci-fi books for kids

SCRAP by Guy Bass. Book cover and author photo.
We were completely gripped by this month's Cockatoo pick, SCRAP by Guy Bass. It's a sci-fi adventure packed with empathy, humour and a cast of brilliant characters that we think young readers will really love. Heart-warming and hugely entertaining, it's also the first in a trilogy and we can't wait to see where the story goes next. Here Guy tells us all about writing his robot characters and which other sci-fi books for kids he recommends you read next.

What inspired you to write SCRAP?

Robots! And the mind-blowing pace and power of consumerism. But mostly robots.

To what extent did you intend for the robot society in SCRAP to reflect the world we live in?

I wanted the robots to be very human and relatable - I wasn’t really interested in them having approximated emotions or non-human motivations. I like the idea that after rejecting humanity and embracing their own path, the robots basically make all the same mistakes we do. The fact that they are obsessed with upgrading (their bodies as opposed to their phones) comes from a very human place – it’s really an obsession with status, which is hard to resist but leaves everyone poorer.

What research did you do for the book and did you learn anything that surprised you?

I read a lot about the history of robots in science fiction – as a metaphor for our better selves, marginalization, the nightmare of unrestrained progress … Also, the idea of robots as an analogy for raising children, which I’d never really dug into. We want our children to develop into content, decent and productive adults but also the fear that they’ll disobey / usurp / replace the older generation (sort of inevitable, which is maybe why it’s scary!)

Which character was the most fun to write and why?

Gnat was a lot of fun to write because she has an enviable outlook on life. She always tries to stay positive and imagines that anything is possible. When we meet Scrap he’s just starting to look on the bright side of life … then the Brightside children appear and shake his outlook again. Gnat totally believes in Scrap will save the day, which is helpful when your hero’s a curmudgeon. I also loved writing Harmony Highshine – single-mindedness is always fun to write, especially when it results in villainy.

What do you think is the most important lesson Scrap learns?

That it’s not who you are, it’s what you do that matters. One day I might write a book that doesn’t include that lesson, but probably not.

Who would you say is the real hero of the story and why?

Well, Scrap gets the cover and the title, so he’s pretty sure it’s him. The book definitely follows his journey as he decides whether he can be the robot that Paige and Gnat need him to be. The book is introduced by an older Gnat, so I guess that gives her a head a start on her sister. But for me at least, this was always meant to be Paige’s story – certainly as the story progresses in future books. Maybe the three of them can share ‘real hero’ status equally!

Why did you choose to write books for this age group?

If it’s true that, however old you get, you remain a certain age in your head, then I’m about ten. Writing for this age group (and/or my ten-year old self) feels like a very comfortable fit.

Which other sci-fi books for kids would you recommend our subscribers read next?

For old school sci fi, go for The Iron Man by Ted Hughes. More new school (and a smidge older but great), try Game Over: Rise of the Raid Mob by MJ Sullivan. Mighty Mechs. Loyal friends. Hope in the face of impossible odds – plus, the second book in the series is out in March.

Copies of our SCRAP pack, including a copy of the book and loads of fun activities to go with it, are now available for individual purchase. Grab a copy while stocks last!

This post includes affiliate links to our page, meaning we receive a small percentage of the sale should you purchase through them. Additionally, a percentage from all sales on the platform goes directly to local UK bookshops which is an initiative we're delighted to support!


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