What memories do you have of reading when you were a child?
My main memories of childhood reading are things like Dr Seuss
(which I still love), Richard Scarry books...and then later stuff
like Enid Blyton, Agatha Christie (I was a big fan!), Ian Fleming,
the Biggles books (which I notice have just been re-issued), Just
William and all the Arthur Conan Doyle Sherlock Holmes stories.
Why do you think it is important to help children with their
So they can get as much fun as I have from books. And so they can
buy more of my books and make me rich and famous.
Do you have a favourite out of your own books, and if so, why?
My favourite book is probably one of my 'Bad Dog' books...'Bad Dog
Rockin Up a Phat One in Da House' which makes me laugh and reminds
me strongly of living in the US. I also enjoyed writing 'Michigan
Moorcroft RIP' which is a 'Young Adult' darkly comic novel (no
pictures!) and deals with the ticklish subject of death (trust me
it's a riot).
What would you say to a reluctant male reader of any age?
Being a reluctant reader is like being a reluctant movie-goer or
reluctant dancer...it might be easier not to read but think of all
the fun you'd be missing.
How would you encourage boys in particular to read?
I know what worked for me: stories and humour. I'd point them
towards reading anything that appeals: not 'good' books, just
exciting stuff. I have always read for pleasure first and intellect
second. It's great when you combine both but it's not crucial. For
example I read a lot of crime fiction and a lot of unfashionably
low-brow stuff, but so what? I enjoy it!
Is there a reason that you chose to illustrate books for children
rather than adults?
Yes; money. There's not much money in illustrating books for
adults. Plus of course I believe that children are the future,
teach them well and let them be carefree...and of course I didn't
want to actually do anything that looked like real work.
Where and when do you like to read?
Anytime, anywhere. I HAVE to have a book with me at all times or my
brain shrinks to less than the size of an apple and since it's
pretty small already I have to be careful.
Why do you think reading is fun?
It has all the advantages of being a couch potato except you don't
get any grief for doing it.
What is your favourite room in your house and why?
My favourite room in my house is the room I haven't got yet; the
basement kitted out with video games, pool table, hot tub and all
the other bling bling stuff you see on my fave programme, 'Cribs'.
Do you use the internet, and if so, what influence do you think
that the internet will have on children's reading habits?
I love the internet and use it all the time. It's perfect for slobs
like me because I don't have to lift a finger (well, OK, maybe a
finger) to find whatever I need; reference materials, plane tickets
and so on. I also use it to send artwork and manuscripts back and
forth. If children are on the net then obviously they need to be
careful but as far as reading is concerned I think it's a positive.
Let's face it if you don't read you can't surf the net...
As far as influence on reading habits I haven't got a clue guv.
Do you ever use your friends/family as models for
characters/illustrations in your books? If so, do you tell
Yes, sometimes, particularly my drop-dead gorgeous wife Ann. I
always tell her if I've used her image as she would punish me
If you weren’t an author/illustrator, what would you be?
I still have hopes of becoming a Premiership footballer even though
that's getting less likely each season...I also would like to be a
mega-famous film director or a fantastically succesful singing
superstar (but as I'm tone deaf this is a remote prospect I have to
admit). Realistically I suppose I'd have to rely on my looks and
become a highly-paid male model but I've only got a few more years
of gorgeousness left.
What book, author or illustrator has had the biggest impact on your
British writers like Evelyn Waugh and PG Wodehouse have had a big
impact as well as Americans like Elmore Leonard and Carl Hiassen.
But I'd have to say that the biggest influence by far has been Dr
What advice would you give to a child who was interested in
Don't. The last thing I need is anymore competition. Get a job that
gets you out of the house. If they still insisted I'd say to
practice. A lot. There are many, many very good authors and
illustrators around but not all that many reliable ones. Don't miss
deadlines. Suck up to publishers. Be nice.
What do you do to relax (apart from read!)?
I usually like to ride one of my string of Arabian ponies across
the western acres of Chatterton Towers estates before a late
morning massage by Voluptia, my personal masseuse. Then it's a
quick twenty laps of the lower swimming pool and possibly a bit of
water skiing on the lake. Lunch is a simple affair of poached
swan's eggs on a bed of Perigordian truffles. The afternoons are
for work. For holidays I enjoy skiing in Gstaaaaad, sunning myself
in St Trop, or just chatting with my best mates Madonna or Giorgio.
More often than not the evening ends with a fish supper from Mr
Wongs on the corner of Liverpool Road.
I love playing footy, sunbathing, travelling, skiing, cooking (and
Did you have another career before you became an illustrator?
No, but I have had a variety of jobs running alongside my
stunningly succesful author/illustrator career. I am an undercover
SAS agent (oops, blown my cover there, dash it!) operating under
the codename 'Rock'. I also sold lingerie, was a pipe-fitter's
mate, worked amongst the impoverished youth of Liverpool, taught
life-drawing and graphics and most recently have thought about
becoming a gangsta rapper if I can pass my GNVQ in Street Life
Who do you admire (author/illustrator or otherwise)?
The above-mentioned Dr Seuss. Other heroes: Jonathan Richman
(obscure singer), Madonna, John Lydon (Johnny Rotten of the punk
rock combo The Sex Pistols), David Lynch the film director, Stuart
Pierce (ex-England footy player), Robert Crumb. My lovely wife Ann
(who works alongside me and is responsible for all the colouring
What was the strangest place you ever stopped to read a book?
Do you consider yourself to be primarily an author or an
An author darling, naturally. They get far more credit for doing
far, far less.
Whose books would you really like to illustrate?
Carl Hiassen's comic Florida novels. I used to live there and they
are a fantastic and accurate depiction of Florida in all it's
inglorious, er, glory.
(from an interview with Stuart Wilkinson @ Reading Is