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 reading?

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 them?

Yes, sometimes, particularly my drop-dead gorgeous wife Ann. I always tell her if I've used her image as she would punish me severely otherwise.
 
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 work?

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 Seuss.
 
What advice would you give to a child who was interested in becoming an
author/illustrator?

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 eating), sailing.
 
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 Studies.
 
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 in).
 
What was the strangest place you ever stopped to read a book?

Wigan.
 
Do you consider yourself to be primarily an author or an illustrator?

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 Fundamental)