I studied jazz piano until the end of year 12.
2. What is your nickname?
3. What is your greatest fear?
It’s a tie between clowns, and shuffling off this mortal coil before I get enough time to make all the books I want to make.
Mostly it’s clowns.
4. Describe your writing style in ten words.
Funny, cheeky; pared back as it’s usually accompanying my illustrations.
5. Tell us five positive words that describe you as a writer.
Persistent, thoughtful, persistent, intuitive, persistent.(Plus a bonus 6th word: PERSISTENT).
6. What book character would you be, and why?
I’m probably most like Sally Tinker from my new book, Brobot. Sally likes to make things and she likes to know how things work. She’s focused on the little details. She started her own company called S.Tinker Inc. She doesn’t like to leave anything to chance; she’d much rather plan things ahead of time. She doesn’t suffer fools. She’s confident and she works really hard (and she should probably take a break more often).
7. If you could time travel, what year would you go to and why?
While I’m very reluctant to mess with the fabric of the time-space continuum, I would love to visit Ancient Egypt, Rome and Greece. I’d also stop by Ancient Gaul to visit Asterix and Obelix.
8. What would your ten-year-old self say to you now?
“Whoa - you actually make books as your job?? That’s amazing. And wow, you got, like, really hairy.”
9. Who is your greatest influence?
I don’t think it’s a who, I think it’s a what – animation is probably my greatest influence. I’ve watched a lot of cartoons and animated films over the years. When I’m thinking about how to write or illustrate a story, I first see it as an animated film in my head.
10. What/who inspired you to start writing?
I think I always just liked writing and illustrating. I remember making lots of stories as early as year 1; whenever I had free time, I was onto it. I always loved books and reading and making up stories. I was encouraged by my parents and teachers so I kept at it. Then in year 7 everyone in my class had to make a picture book for a class project; we all entered our books into the Make Your Own Storybook competition, organized by the CBCA here in WA. I won 3rdprize in the Year 6/7 category, and that was huge for me at the time. I was very proud and hoped that one day I could make a real book.
11. What is your favourite word and why?
‘Cupcake’ is fun to say. Fun to eat too.
Cupcakes feature a lot in Brobot. The title character is a robot helper built by Sally. Brobot can help Sally build machines and clean up messes, but his best feature is the automatic cupcake oven built into his chest.
12. If you could only read one book for the rest of your life, what would it be?
One Soul by Ray Fawkes. It’s a graphic novel about 18 different people living at 18 different points in human history. Each double-page spread has 18 different panels – one for each character - and their life stories are told in parallel from the moment of their birth onwards. It’s an incredibly intricate and heartfelt book; it’s all about what it means to be a human being. I wish I had made it.
James Foley is an award-winning Australian author and illustrator. His books include The Last Viking, In the Lion, and My Dead Bunny. His latest book is Brobot, a graphic novel for young readers published by Fremantle Press. Visit James Foley's website and Facebook page for the latest updates on his books and events.