We were thrilled to have the chance to interview children's author and illustrator, Benji Davies, for our Bedtime Story Competition. Benji's award-winning books are loved by kids around the world and now he shares his secrets with you. Find out how he comes up with his characters, where he finds his ideas and his top tips for Bedtime Story Competition entrants...
1) How do you come up with an idea for a story?
Ideas for stories come along when you least expect them so you have to have your wits about you. The best thing to do is to keep looking and listening all the time and when something interesting catches your attention - maybe it's a squirrel in the park stealing a sandwich, or the words from a song on the radio, something that fires up your imagination - you must be ready to jot down a few notes or make a sketch. Once you have done that, you have taken the first few steps on the path to creating a great story.
2) How do you come up with your main character?
Characters are so important in stories. Without them, there is nobody to experience the story; nobody's eyes that we can look through to find out what happens in the story. Try drawing people out of a magazine or someone famous from history - then change something about them. Change their clothes, make them taller, give them a different nose, a different job. Gradually they will become a new character. You could even try drawing them as an animal. Think about what they like to eat. Think about where they live. Does it make them more real? Do they have a story to tell?
3) What inspired you to become a writer?
I have been interested in writing and drawing since I was very young. I spent several years working as an animation director and then realised that all the things I loved about that - coming up with characters and settings, making them feel like they are living and breathing, telling their stories - could also be done by writing and illustrating children's books.
4) What do you think makes a great bedtime story?
A great bedtime story is one that leaves you feeling that all is right with the world, that you can happily drift off to sleep. No matter what happens in the story you should be left with a feeling of hope on the final page. It should leave you to go to sleep with a smile.
5) If you could give our young writers one piece of advice what would it be?
Don't be afraid to change your story to make it better. Maybe you need to take a character out or add a new one. Maybe something different needs to happen at the end to make the story work. Whatever you write down first doesn't have to be the final thing - re-write it, make changes, make it better.
Quick Fire Questions
What's your favourite bedtime story book?
The Little Grey Men by BB
If you could be best friends with anyone from a book, who would it be?
Hazel from from Watership Down.
Did you have an imaginary friend growing up?
I liked the idea of having an imaginary pet dog but I kept forgetting to hold on to his imaginary lead. He ran off.
What's your favourite word?
There are seriously too many good words to pick just one.
What makes a good goody and a bad baddy?
A good goody always does the right thing. A bad baddy is really a good person somewhere inside but they've lost their way.
Who's your best friend? What makes them so good?
My wife Nina is my best friend. We like to hang out with each other and she always listens.
Tell us something we don't know about you...
When I was little I had a guinea pig called Chubby.
To see what makes him so popular, check out our full range of Benji Davies books.