What situations or people influenced you to start illustrating? Looking at fairy tale books, my grandmother painting watercolours and visiting the library often with my mum who used to be a librarian.
What was the most interesting thing you discovered when writing and illustrating this book? That the answer to a problem sometimes comes when you have almost given up trying to find one! I could not work out a neat solution of Peggy being able to find her way home from the city. One day at home I was shooing away the pigeons from our chook house telling them to go hang out somewhere else, like the city and suddenly the light bulb went off! The pigeons could help Peggy find her way home! Now I had the answer it seemed so simple and obvious!
What was the best thing about writing this book? For the first time I felt like I was finding my voice as a writer/story teller.
What was one of the best things that happened because of this book? I was asked to visit Ascot Vale Special School. The kids there had created some wonderful drawings inspired by ‘Peggy’. I spent the day speaking to them and they showed me their vegetable garden, and chickens! I was inspired by the children, their enthusiasm for life and raw honesty. I felt privileged to spend time with them.
Which books do you recommend? There are so many wonderful books to read. Here are a few randomly selected children’s books! A book I was fascinated with as a child: ‘Sylvester and the Magic Pebble’ by William Steig. A book my children loved: ‘The Terrible Plop’ written by Ursula Dubosarsky, illustrated by Andy Joyner. A book I keep at the studio: ‘Sweets’ by Sylvia van Ommen. Any book written by Allan Ahlberg and illustrated by Bruce Ingman (what a team!)
Who do you really admire? Ann James and Ann Haddon of Books Illustrated. Ann James writes and illustrates delightful children’s books and together with Ann Haddon, they become the dynamic duo creating fabulous education programs, hosting exhibitions, launches and other events celebrating children’s literature. They play a pivotal role in the Australian Children’s book Industry and have raised the awareness of Australian Children’s Literature on a global scale. They are kind, generous and fun too! There is a lot to be admired! http://www.booksillustrated.com.au
What are your favourite gadgets? My husband would say it’s my computer! But I think it is the plastic rolly thing that I use to roll over paper once I have stuck it down when creating collage pieces.
What is something that most people might be surprised to know about you? I tap dance.
What else would you like to write or illustrate a book about? The words I think of with this question are forests, tiny animals, adventure, river, patience and journey. I would love to weave these threads into a story.
What are you working on next? I have a few exciting projects lined up, this year I am working on a Christmas book with Jane Godwin and another story that I have written and will illustrate. It is a story close to my heart and I can’t wait to begin creating the imagery.
Read my review of ‘Peggy’ here.