I’ve always loved writing in one form or another. As a child, I would write audio scripts then record them using a cassette player I’d got as a Christmas present, acting out all the different parts. They were very fun to do, but those tapes are sadly long gone.
As I got older, I started writing various poems, novels, and other bits and pieces, but the main problem was I didn’t know who I was writing for. Then, soon after becoming a parent, I was introduced to the Society of Children’s Book Writers and Illustrators (SCBWI) by a friend, and it was at that point I realized I’d found my niche: picture books.
Why do I love picture books? They’re unique because they have two audiences—the child who looks and listens, and the adult who reads — and trying to create something that will excite both of them is a rewarding challenge. The “rules” of picture books are also part of their appeal — just a few hundred words spread over (usually) twenty-four pages. I love working out how the story will fit in that space, how the page turns are going to fall, and always thinking about creating something that will excite the illustrator. I scribble lots of sticky notes and slap them on my wall, moving them around and replacing them as better ideas spring up. Working this way makes it easier for me to visualize the story as a whole. It’s only when I’m happy with the structure that I’ll sit down and start to flesh out the actual words.
Inspiration can come from anywhere: other books, films, video games, the news, the shape of a cloud, silly or profound things my sons say. A lot of ideas come when I’m out walking or on the bus (always carry a notepad and pen). The hardest part is working out which ideas are the real sparkly ones that you should fall in love with, and which ones are the duffers that you should drop like a rotten apple.
Three Things You Didn’t Know About Me
When I was young I used to play cornet in a brass band. We were one of the best in the country!
To help me get into Zen mode, I make random things with pieces of wood, or solve Rubik’s Cubes. I taught my eldest son how to solve them and now he’s quicker than I am.
The only thing I like to eat more than noodles is extra noodles.