Monday, 9 January 2017

Interview with Rob Biddulph

Rob Biddulph is a bestselling and award-winning author/illustrator whose first picture book, Blown Away (HarperCollins), won the Waterstones Children’s Book Prize in 2015. His second, GRRRRR! (HarperCollins), was nominated for the CILIP Kate Greenaway medal and his third, Odd Dog Out (HarperCollins), was published in August 2016. His fourth picture book, Sunk!, will be published in March 2017. As well as working on his own books he also illustrates for other authors including Piers Torday, David Solomons and Christian O'Connell.  Before he became a full-time author/illustrator he was the art director of the Observer Magazine, NME, Uncut, SKY and Just Seventeen. He lives in London with his wife and three daughters.

BWB: GRRRRR! is your second picturebook. Why did you choose to focus this story on a bear?

RB: Well, I knew that I wanted the set the book in a woodland environment (because I really love drawing trees) and so I did some research on Yellowstone National Park. As soon as I saw that bears lived there my mind was made up. They're great fun to draw and everybody loves them, not least my own children. 

BWB: What's the best award/trophy you've ever won? 

RB: Hmmm, tricky. It's either a) the first ever prize that I won for drawing which was, wait for it, a BIC biro, b) the1991 Player of the Year for Brookmans Park Football Club or c) the Waterstones Children's Book Prize. I think I'll go for... c) the Waterstones prize. It was such a shock when I won. In fact, I still can't quite believe that it happened!

BWB: If you were to compete against another illustrator who would that be?

RB: Ooh, great question. Well, I guess it depends what we were competing in. If we're talking about an illustration competition then I think I'd like to test myself against the very best. So how about... Quentin Blake, although he would absolutely thrash me obviously. If we were competing in a running race, however, I might stand a better chance...

BWB: Your favourite fictional bear and why?

RB: Now this is tough. I love Paddington and Pooh, but I think I might have to plump for Baloo from the Jungle Book. I would love to have a friend like him. We could hang out all day eating prickly pears, floating along the river and basically forgetting about our worries and our strife. It would be so cool. 

BWB: Can you tell us more about your next picture book?

RB: Well, my brand new book is called Odd Dog Out and it's set in a world entirely populated by dachshunds (that's the posh name for sausage dogs). Everybody loves a sausage dog and they're SUCH fun to draw. Anyway, in this world every single dog dresses and acts in exactly that same way as all the others, except for one – the Odd Dog Out. She gets pretty fed up cos everyone is different to her so she leaves town in search of kindred spirits. But, in doing so, she discovers something much more important - that being yourself is actually the best thing of all. It's basically a sweet story about blazing your own trail and not just following the crowd. Plus there's lots of pictures of dogs dressed up in funny outfits. What's not to like?

Huge thanks to Rob and Simon for taking the time to make this interview happen. You can find out more about Rob and his wonderful work on his website here. He also draws on a lot of post it notes to live in his daughters lunchbox from time to time...

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