Hello. I have finally managed to sort out a new website and blog. I’m still playing around with it, so apologies for any glitches. There are links to my Instagram, Facebook, Twitter and Tumblr feeds here, but this website provides a static home for all my books and provides the opportunity to have galleries for my artwork. Apologies to all those who have been visiting my unloved and dusty Blogger site. All visitors will now be directed here.
The Cambridge Literary Festival is on at the moment and last weekend I did an event with my old friend Chris Riddell. We’ve been talking about doing something together for a long time but had never previously managed to sort it out.
The event was styled as a ‘Sketch Off’ but it wasn’t really that. I think we’d have had to have had some sort of split screen for it to work. I’d have lost such a duel in any case. Chris has been drawing as performance for years now and its not something I do at all. So I think we strayed away from the brief a bit – but entertainingly I hope.
I’ve known Chris for almost thirty years now. I first met him when I was his holiday cover (alongside Dave Simonds) at The Economist in 1990. When he came back they decided there was enough work for three cartoonists and I stayed on. We worked side by side, pretty much every Wednesday, often late into the evening, for six years.
We also worked together on a long-running strip cartoon – Bestiary – in the Independent on Sunday (I wrote the words and Chris drew the pictures) and it was Chris – who was already established in children’s books as well as newspaper cartooning – who suggested I write a children’s story and having suggested it, took what I wrote to his editor, Annie Eaton. That resulted in the publication of my first book – Dog Magic! – by Transworld. I’ve been a writer ever since.
Chris has become hugely successful in children’s books of course, both as writer and illustrator (the only one to win the Kate Greenaway three times). I’ve known a few people in my life whose careers have taken off spectacularly and there always seems to be an element of good fortune mixed in. With Chris though, I think it really is about undoubted ability combined with a huge amount of hard work.
I am definitely jealous of some of the opportunities that come Chris’s way – but never jealous of Chris himself. He has absolutely earned those opportunities. And to say he has been supportive of my work is a monumental understatement. From regular pep talks over the phone to promoting me on social media, he is tireless in that regard.
So if you came along, I hope you enjoyed listening to us burble on about Andrew Marr, Bridget Jones and the disembodied arm of Benelux – and I hope we get the chance to do it again sometime.
Thanks to Niki Rogers for the photo