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When did the passion for storytelling start?
It dates back to my boarding school days. We had to write to our parents every week. I found it boring. So I wrote and illustrated stories, either making them up or writing about my week.
Why combine watercolour and storytelling?
I love watercolour and find it works well with comic strips, but I don’t always use it. Sometimes I use inks, gouache or acrylics.
You’ve retold classics like Don Quixote and Noah’s Ark in your comic strip style.
When I was young, there were few children’s retellings. I’d often struggle with the adult versions. I write and illustrate for children who enjoy pictures and conversations in their books.
You’re passionate about children.
They look at the world through fresh and usually very honest eyes. They have a wonderful sense of humour and they are our future.
You’ve spoken about illustration as being just unreliable enough to be interesting?
Watercolour is unreliable and illustrators can be unreliable, but illustrations themselves must have a basis of reliability or they risk being self-indulgent and hard to read.
What’s special about The Elephant’s Friend and Other Tales from Ancient India?
It’s full of colour and very enjoyable and I hope to revisit this subject in the future.
Who are your favourite illustrators?
My favourite is Maurice Sendak. I’m also a huge admirer of Indian art. It is so diverse and often so contained, but telling so many tales.
Do you believe in fairy tales?
Of course. In both fairies and fairy tales.
Your nickname was Mars Bar?
Yes, it’s taken from Marcia. But I’m also extremely keen on chocolate.
Looking forward to the Bookaroo Children’s Literature Festival?
Sharing my enthusiasm for books with 8-10 year-olds will be very interesting.