Alison Brown is an author and illustrator of several fantastic picture books, including the illustrator of our 2017 Bedtime Story Competition winning book, There's a Boy Just Like Me. We had the opportunity to see some photos of her drawing space and ask her some questions about what inspired her, how she got involved in children's books and much more...
Do you have a favourite picture book from when you were a child?
Richard Scarry's What Do People Do All Day?
What about the book did you love so much?
It was a fascinating glimpse into the world of grown-up life; hectic, sometimes full of thundering machinery but always comforting and very, very funny.
Do you have a favourite bedtime story to read to children now?
Willy the Champ, by Anthony Browne. In fact any Willy story!
What do you think they like about it?
The story is very simple, and children love to become so familiar with the words of a story that they can "read" it themselves. This is really exciting when accompanied by images that are so multi-layered that they never run out of surprises.
What inspired you to become an author-illustrator?
I always liked drawing. I realised I was quite good at it when my teacher in primary school delegated to me the creation of a life-size mural of the three wise men. I think they calculated that my attempt at a camel might be safer than theirs.
What was the first character you created?
My first published characters were Eddie and Dog (Little Tiger Press 2014). Dog is an individual of mystery and many talents.
What do you think makes a good bedtime story?
Any good book can make a great bedtime story. I don't believe it has to be quiet and soothing. Murder and mayhem can be just as good. I find a gory Greek myth goes down very well.
What makes a great opening line for a bedtime story?
Something happening that makes you ask "why". Definitely not a long, wordy description!
How important are the characters in a bedtime story?
Very important - for the grown-ups! Reading aloud a really funny, believable character is a great pleasure. Reading aloud a badly written one is excruciating.
If you could give an aspiring author one piece of advice what would it be?
Keep a notebook to hand and write down (or draw) anything that you find interesting or odd. For example, I once called a lift and when the doors opened there was just a mop and bucket inside. Why? That might be the start of a story. I haven't written it yet, perhaps you will!
Tell us a fun fact about yourself...
I might be the most talented Northern Irish person in the use of chopsticks. This is because I spent a year eating Japanese school dinners. All the children laughed so much at my early efforts that I had to get really good at it to avoid daily humiliation!
We love Alison Brown here, both as an author and illustrator, so make sure you check out her books, all of which are perfect as bedtime reads.