I've always loved to draw. I used to spend hours as a child copying cartoons from comic books or pictures of animals from encyclopaedias. I remember when I was about 10, painting a picture of a man fishing and being so engrossed in it that I didn't notice that the house was on fire!
At one point I thought that I might like to be zookeeper so that I could work with the animals all day and draw them in my lunch break. When I was 17 my careers teacher at school suggested that I might like to be an artist instead. I could still draw and paint the animals but I wouldn't have to shovel any poo! It was a moment of revelation to me. It had never occurred to me before that you could get paid for something that you did as a hobby!
I decided to go to art college (Cambridge College of Art and Technology) where one of my tutors was the brilliant Colin McNaughton who inspired me to become a children's book illustrator. I was lucky enough to be commissioned to illustrate my first 4 books while I was still at college and over the next twenty years did illustrations for books, comics, magazines, licensed products and for television programmes; most notably 'The Raggy Dolls' (ask your Mum!)
It was called, 'The Lamb Who Came To Dinner' which was published by Little Tiger Press in 2006 and was shortlisted for The Red House Book Awards, Commended in the Sheffield Children's Book Awards, translated into several different languages, turned into a theatre play in Sweden and read on TV by Meatloaf. I've now written over 50 books with more on the way.
Nowadays I spend a lot of time visiting schools, libraries and festivals. I love reading my stories and drawing pictures to a live audience. I also paint murals in schools, libraries and homes (even dog's homes).
I am so lucky that I get to do all these fun things, call it my 'work' and get paid for it too! It certainly doesn't feel like a 'proper job'.
I've been married since 1980 to my wonderful wife Ann who deserves a medal for putting up with me for so long. We have 4 great children who are all grown up now but my memories of them growing up inspire and inform my writing as do our 7 adorable, energetic, hilarious and exhausting grandchildren.