What is the name of your latest book and what inspired it?
My newest book is 'The Boy Who Loved Everyone', and it's been illustrated beautifully by Maisie Paradise Shearring. It's inspired by a real boy at the nursery I visit once a week - he was a Greek boy who said "I love you' to everyone - it was so charming I had to write a story about him! The story is also a little bit inspired by the classic film 'It's A Wonderful Life'. I wrote and illustrated 'King Otter' which came out in summer 2019, and was inspired by my birthday cowboy boots! They made me feel so different when I put them on that I thought about what would happen if a character got completely carried away with some new clothes. It's also inspired by my love of river swimming, which is what brings Otter back down to earth and reunites him with his friends.
Do you have any unusual writing habits?
like to put a notebook in my pocket and cycle to Richmond Park. When I get there, rain or shine, I sit on my favourite bench and write. Once there was someone else already sitting there! I sat on a tree stump instead feeling cross.
What authors, or books have influenced you?
It's a very inspiring time for children's books, and there are so many good ones to choose from! When I was a child I loved a series of books about an elephant called Uncle, by J P Martin. They were very funny and imaginative stories, illustrated by Quentin Blake.
What are you working on now?
I'm working on several projects - two picture book texts and a new picture book that I'm illustrating as well. I don't want to give too much away but it has penguins in it!
Do you have any advice for new authors?
Read as much as possible - and read your own work out loud. If you are writing for children, try and find a way to spend time with children, listening to them and finding out what they are interested in.
What is the best advice you have ever heard?
That's easy - when I was struggling to get the text right for my picture book Pink Lion, I showed it to a friend's 4-year-old. He said 'it needs more roaring' - and it was SUCH good advice. I put the roaring in, and got a book contract as a result!
What are you reading now?
I often read several books at once and am constantly visiting the library. One book that's always on my bedside table is Moby DIck by Herman Melville - I am working on a graphic novel retelling the story set on my local urban river (which I clean up as a volunteer). I've read it twice but still dip in for inspiration.
What's next for you as a writer?
I have two ideas I'd like to develop as longer texts, one for 6-7 year olds and one for 10-11 year olds.