DAVID Walliams had an unusual inspiration for his children's story Awful Auntie, next week's show at the Grand Opera House, York.

"It may not be what you were expecting but I am obsessed with the film The Shining," he says. "I wanted to create a horror story where a child was trapped in a house with a dangerous relative, cut off from the outside world.

"As for the character herself, I had a lot of fun creating Aunt Alberta. Villains are always so much more fun than heroes. I wanted her to be funny as much as scary, which is something my literary hero Roald Dahl always did so brilliantly."

Running in York from Wednesday to Saturday, Birmingham Stage Company's production of Awful Auntie tells the story of Stella (played by Georgina Leonidas), who sets off to visit London with her parents, Lord and Lady Saxby, with no idea that her life is in danger. When she wakes up three months later, only her Aunt Alberta can tell Stella what has happened.

However, not everything Alberta (played by Timothy Speyer) tells her turns out to be true; Stella quickly discovers she is in for the fight of her life against her very own Awful Auntie.

Walliams, by the way, is "lucky enough to have three nice aunties, so Alberta is not based on them". "In writing the book, I let my imagination run riot, which is normally the best way to go," he says. "My real-life granny inspired Gangsta Granny, but my aunties have yet to inspire me to write anything about them."

After Gangsta Granny, Awful Auntie is the second time Walliams has worked with Birmingham Stage Company and it is proving a fruitful partnership. "I share a sense of humour with Neal Foster, who runs BSC and has written both adaptations, so it has been very harmonious," he says. "Also the company are really successful and have been making magnificent family shows for years, so I completely trust them."

York Press:

"I had a lot of fun creating Aunt Alberta," says David Walliams. "Villains are always so much more fun than heroes."

Given the colourful array of characters in Awful Auntie, what are the particular challenges of bringing the story to the stage? "The world of Awful Auntie is very heightened, for example Aunt Alberta has a henchman who is actually an owl," says Walliams. "So I think capturing the tone of the book and still making it believable will be the biggest challenge. Also trying to balance the humour with the frightening moments is never easy, but I have every faith in the BSC."

Walliams hopes children will be inspired by Stella's self-reliance to find the strength within themselves to deal with bad situations. "Stella is posh and even has the title ‘Lady’, but by the end of the story she realises none of that is important and that all people should be treated the same. I believe that too," he adds.

Walliams also has a message for adults. "Don’t lock your niece in a country house or you may end up being killed by a giant snow-owl," he cautions.

Assessing what makes a good book for children, he suggests it needs to be "funny and exciting, with a message that makes you think about it long after you have finished reading it".

Hence his admiration for fellow modern children’s authors. "Dame Jacqueline Wilson is a genius. I read Tracy Beaker and instantly thought I should give up as it’s so brilliant. Michael Morpurgo is an astonishingly good writer, who has found an exciting way to teach children about history. He is an absolute gentleman too," says Walliams.

"Andy Stanton’s books are very funny, as are Jeff Kinney’s. I love to read Julia Donaldson books with my son. Judith Kerr is a brilliant author and illustrator, and let’s not forget Michael Bond, who created Paddington."

It may seem unfair to ask him to name his favourite among his own novels, but Walliams obliges by picking Mr Stink. "I think it has a strong message about how we treat people less fortunate than ourselves, and Sir Quentin Blake’s illustrations are absolutely magical," he says.

Birmingham Stage Company presents David Walliams's Awful Auntie, Grand Opera House, York, February 14 to 17, 7pm, plus 2.30pm, Thursday to Saturday. Box office: 0844 871 3024 or at atgtickets.com/york