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

Tuesday 15 January 2019

12 Curly Questions with author/illustrator Gwyn Perkins

1. Tell us something hardly anyone knows about you.
When I was about 7, I pushed the slightly older bullying son of my parent's esteemed friends into fresh cow manure at the Royal Melbourne Show and he had to wear an overcoat for the rest of the hot day. I got into trouble, but I still think it was worth it.

2. What is your nickname?
Having a name like mine troubled me as a child. Once Father Christmas gave me a cut-out doll book when the other boys got pull-along toys at my dad's work Christmas party. Another time, the name 'Miss Gwyn Perkins' was announced loudly and repeatedly in the waiting room at the Dental Hospital and I was sure there was co-incidentally a female there with a name just like mine.

These days, most of my sailing mates call me Gwynnie. A few say Dorky even if I tell them not to. I've tried to get my daughter to call me Handsome Prince when she really needs something, but it hasn't stuck.

3. What is your greatest fear?
I don't like looking over the edge of a high balcony. I've seen pictures posted by brave idiots who hang off ledges from some crazy height and I can't switch off fast enough. I don't ever wish to drift in a wicker basket thousands of feet high sipping champagne.

4. Describe your writing style in 10 words.
Editing until there is just enough to caption my illustrations.

5. Tell us five positive words that describe you as a writer.
Dedicated, Truthful, Funny, Two more

6. What book character would you be, and why?
If I could be a hero, Richard de Crespigny from his book QF32 for sure. Buy it. He's the pilot who saved hundreds from disaster when an engine on an Airbus 380 disintegrated, destroying most of the aircraft's controls as it left Singapore in November 2010. I was astounded at how he coped with and logically solved problems that his thrilling book details. I drew him a picture, which he framed.
Or otherwise, and unrelated, Winnie the Pooh for his innocent wonder and poetry: Isn't it funny, how a bee likes honey. Buzz buzz buzz, I wonder why he does.

7. If you could time travel, what year would you go to and why?
25 or so years back. I live on an island and back then it was easier to find a car parking spot on the nearby mainland. I wouldn't like to travel forward, it's getting too hot.

8. What would your 10-year-old self say to you now?
I like your drawings.

9. Who is your greatest influence?
My wife, Marie.

10. What/who made you start writing?
ASA, The Australian Society of Authors under the umbrella of The Council for the Arts created an initiative where a book might come from an illustrator's point of view, as opposed to the usual where an author writes and the illustrator gets tacked on at the end. I was awarded one grant from a small selection of recipients. A year's work later, Affirm Press offered a three-book deal when I was convinced I'd created rubbish. My editor Clair Hume deserves much praise.

11. What is your favourite word and why?
Beer. It usually signifies a chance for a joke and a chat; a reward.

12. If you could only read one book for the rest of your life, what would it be? 
I got it for Christmas: Antonio Carluccio's Vegetables. I'm the cook at home so it was as encouragement for me to improve my repertoire with healthy alternatives. I started off well enough, but I've only reached the 'Salad Greens' section near the front and there's about 270 pages to go.

Born in Melbourne in 1942, Gwyn Perkins began his artistic career when he won a newspaper drawing prize of one guinea and a box of paints (mistakenly awarded to Miss Gwyn Perkins). He spent many years as a successful animator in the advertising industry before moving to an island north of Sydney to enjoy a slower pace. He spends his days drawing, sailing and doing odd jobs for his friends and family. Gwyn has two adult sons and lives with his wife and teenage daughter.