'The best books, reviewed with insight and charm, but without compromise.'
- author Jackie French

Wednesday 18 August 2010

Author Interview: Andrew Daddo

We are thrilled to have Andrew Daddo here at Kids Book review, as part of a special Behind the Books feature. Andrew made his start in writing after first becoming one of Australia's most well-known television presenters. The rest is history...

How long have you been writing? Officially, I began writing in 1999, but the reality is a little different. I’d been writing for a long time and it was my girlfriend (now wife) who suggested I should try and make a bit more of it.

Do you remember the first story you ever wrote? Quite well, actually. The Big Green Smiling Wobbly. It took about eight months to write and was knocked back on it’s first submission. Quite emphatically, as it turned out. But, it was also the catalyst to get me writing books for boys, which is where it all started to go right.

What inspired you to write for children? It’s where I started writing, and the voice for kids seemed to come quite naturally. It took a lot longer to get the concept of writing picture books. A lot of people think less words and more pictures make writing those a lot easier, but they’re actually pretty difficult to get right.

How did you make your start in writing and illustrating for children? Getting started as an author was difficult and embarrassing. And painful. I met a publisher and said I’d like to try writing, which he thought sounded like a decent idea. Of course I did nothing for the longest time, and upon seeing him again, reiterated that it was something I was still keen to do. In the end, I was so embarrassed every time I saw him I had to write something. That was The Big Green Smiling Wobbly – as I say, pretty hopeless, but it was a good starting point to everything else.

What other genres have you written in? Picture books. Short story compilations. Chapter books, novels and one Adult non fiction.

Why do you write? I think it’d be fair to say that anyone who writes does it because they love it.

Have you experienced any blocks or obstacles on your book-writing journey? Of course. Looking back, I can see a period of almost two years where nothing really happened. To be honest, I’m not sure why I didn’t write, I know nothing grabbed me at the time, so I was thrilled when the idea of a Sleepwalking Dog waking up to new adventures arrived in the back half of my brain. For the past year, Skoz the Dog and I have been inseparable.

What’s a typical writing day? There is no such thing as a typical writing day, but every day with writing includes cups of tea.

What advice would you have for others on writing children’s stories? It’s the same advice for anyone who wants to play netball or rugby for Australia. Practice, practice, plan and practice. A lot of work goes in to writing for children, the better you understand your characters and their situations, the easier it is to write. Having said that, it’s not always easy!

What were your five favourite books as a child? Nobody Listens to Andrew Daddo, Almost anything by Dr Suess, That was then this is now, Charlie and the Chocolate Factory, Great Expectations.

What else do you like to do, other than write books? My family is very important, weekends are often spent chasing them around any number of sports grounds, and my wife and I both get an enormous amount of pleasure from that. I’m a busted golfer, love the game more than it loves me, I’m afraid. Hopeless fisherman as well. And then, there’s work to consider, too.

What would be your perfect day? It’d have to be a long day if it was going to be ‘perfect’. I mean, really long. There’s cancer to cure and wars to sort out. Poverty would have to go, which reminds me that lotto would be kind of fun to win, too. Ahhhhh, the Melbourne footy club would finally pull off their first grand final in over forty years, which makes it September, and to be there and get a very very deep barrel at Sunset would take some doing. Yes, a long day….

What’s next for Andrew Daddo? Yes, good question. It is the eternal mystery of being me that I like and dislike the most.