We were delighted to interview the brilliant children's illustrator and author, Neal Layton, to discuss friendship, story-writing and perfect pictures! Find out what the first character he ever created was, how he turns words into illustrations, and some important advice for aspiring young authors...
1) What inspired you to become an illustrator?
The stories my dad used to read to me each night in bed: the William books, Biggles books, Enid Blyton adventures, Rupert the Bear annuals - it was always a mix of stories and pictures that appealed to me most.
2) What was the first character you created?
When I was five, I made up a story called 'Space Cat'. I wrote the whole book out twice and stapled two copies together: one for me, and one for my dad!
3) How do you turn words into illustrations?
For me, it's not so much about turning words into illustrations, but more about drawing the ideas and feelings that the words conjure up inside me when I read them.
4) What's your favourite thing about being an illustrator?
5) What do you think makes a great bedtime story?
That feeling of being cosy and snug and safe in bed, but venturing out in your imagination to somewhere else...
6) If you could give our young writers one piece of advice, what would it be?
Write about your interests, your ideas, your dreams... whatever is inside of the real you. If you manage to get it on paper, you are a true author!
Quick Fire Questions
What's your favourite bedtime storybook?
The Magic Bed by John Burningham.
If you could be best friends with anyone from a book, who would it be?
Did you have an imaginary friend growing up?
Sometimes sticks I collected from the countryside would become dragons.
What's your favourite word?
Hiss-clunked. That might be two words... I'm not sure! I use it a lot in my Tony Spears books when he is on board his spaceship.
Who's your best friend? What makes them so good?
My wife - she inspired me to become an artist!
Tell us something we didn't know about you...
I used to skateboard and once represented the UK at a World Cup Race in Switzerland. I came 72nd out of about 75 riders. It was never going to be a career choice for me.
Check out our range of Neal Layton books to see why they're so popular with kids!