Where did you grow up?
What is your earliest memory of writing/drawing?
Picnicking with my parents when I was about 5. I had caught a tiddler with my fishing net and put him in a jam-jar. I named my fish Tom Tiddler and dictated a story in which he was the main character to my mother.
What inspired you to write/illustrate your first book?
After an exercise on setting in a writing class I was suddenly overwhelmed with memories of the place and the first WWII novel came pouring out.
Do you use your childhood as inspiration?
What books from your childhood have most influenced your work? What about adult titles?
As a British child in the 1950’s I suppose I was most influenced by Enid Blyton (The JK Rowling of her time). There were far fewer books available for children and she created magical stories, The Famous Five Series being the most popular, in which four children, Julian, Dick, Georgina and Anne had the most amazing adventures together with not an adult in sight. Of course the children were utterly stereotypical and predictable, brave boys, Georgina the tom-boy and Anne the wimp, non of whom ever grew older. They were irresistible.
Because there were not an enormous amount of books written specifically for children I also devoured the classics and fell under the spell of Dickens and his larger than life characters with their incredible names.
Who are a couple of your favorite author/illustrators? What is it about their work that inspires and interests you?
David Almond who hails from the same neck of the woods as me. I love the mix of realism and fantasy. I love the settings because they transport me back to my own childhood.
What one or two words of advice would you give for young authors/illustrators?
Read, read, read!