Since The Curious Incident Of The Dog In The Night-Time exploded on to the literary scene in 2003, author Mark Haddon has had it easier.

The global success of the bestseller, loved by children and adults alike, granted him the time and freedom to be more ruthless with his writing, and this has resulted in a change of direction.

Though he’s previously worked on children’s and adult literature, paintings, illustrations and poetry, his recently published collection of short stories, The Pier Falls, is his first.

Haddon read from the collection, which is much darker and less innocent than his earlier novels. In a discussion chaired by the Guardian’s Kate Kellaway, he talked about his themes, his writing practices, how he deals with writers’ block, how his wife is the perfect first reader, and his Northampton-based childhood.

He’s a very entertaining and cheerful speaker, which made the hour-long talk fly past. There were many families in the audience and it is clear Haddon’s appeal spans the generations.

During the question and answer session at the end, he responded to the younger questioners sensitively and it’s evident many of the parents present will have to tactfully distract their children from his latest, twisted publication.