koko picP1020160This is my interview with Alison Lester.

What inspired you to start writing and illustrating? Being stranded in the countryside with a new baby was a great incentive to find a job that I could do from home. I was lucky that my first interview for illustrating work was with Rosalind Price, then at OUP. She took me under her wing and like many of her protégées, turned me into a writer.

What’s the hardest part of your job? Making myself sit at my desk. There are so many distractions. I’m lucky to work 10 hours a week.

What’s the best part of your job? Making a book, getting it worked out and going (then I do sit at my desk) then getting it finished. I love thinking up new books. I just had a little friend here and she was showing me how quiet she could be as a ninja then when we went outside her boots were missing and I thought what fun a series of stories about her could be, the ninjas missing shoes, the silent ninja etc., etc.

What inspired you to travel to Mawson Station? I do love travelling and have wanted to go to Antarctica for ages. I was really lucky to win an Arts Fellowship to travel there.RM_9736

What was the best thing about writing this book? Reliving the voyage, researching more Antarctic info, working with Simon Estella from P&O Polar.

What was the most interesting thing you discovered when writing this book? That Amundsen built a hut, like Scott and Shackleton, but because he built it on the ice shelf, it’s long gone, floated off when the shelf broke up and finally sank when it’s iceberg melted. I’m fascinated by the image of that hut on an iceberg.

What was one of the best things that happened because of this book? Launching it on the Aurora Australis was pretty cool.

Do you have a favourite image in this book? I love the last page, where Sophie and her dad are walking away from the huge red ship. It’s funny that when you stand beside a ship on the dock it looks enormous but when you are in the middle of the southern ocean it feels quite small.

Do you have any more trips like this planned? I’m going to the Galapagos in May but that’s just a holiday. I’d like to do a similar project about the recovery on Macquarie Island.

What are your favourite tools? I love water colour paints and paper, 2B and 6B pencils and charcoal.

Read my review of ‘Sophie Scott Goes South’ here and ‘Green As A Bean’ here.

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