Dave Hackett – Interview (Jun 2014)

Dave Hackett

Q. What comes first the story or the illustrations?

Most often it’s the story that bursts into my head first. Once I have a story in mind, I find it easy then to scribble down my characters to match what I’ve written.

Having said that, there have been plenty of times where I’ve drawn a falling cat and a trampolining rhino in the first frame of a cartoon strip, with no idea where the story is going. The great thing about beginning that way is that your brain will use what you’ve created to come up with solutions, and take your story places you otherwise would never have thought of.

Q. Tell us a little about your writing journey. What prompted you to sit down and write your first story?

It’s kind of weird – I don’t think that I ever really saw myself growing up to be an author. I’d written plenty of tragic teenage poetry over the years and didn’t think much of it, but when the editor of my first cartooning book asked me if I wrote anything besides cartooning books, I told her the title of a story that had been floating around in my head: ‘UFO – Unavoidable Family Outing’,  and she said ‘Ooh, send me some of that!’ And so I wrote…

Q. What’s the best thing about being a writer/illustrator?

I love being able to come up with characters and situations that have never existed before – whether I’m drawing jelly-wrestling gargantuan chickens and alien brain monsters, or writing about spandex-wearing jugglers or your average recklessly-zitful teenagers – being in total control of everything they say and do is the most fun I could ever imagine!

Q. Where is your favourite place to write?

On a tropical island, locked in the bathroom at 3am sitting backwards on the toilet with my laptop balancing on the flusher button. Highly inspirational.

Q. Do your characters wake you up at night with ideas?

Absolutely. They set off alarms inside my head in the wee hours, desperate to let me know what they’re thinking, or who they’ve got the hots for, and I try to tell them to shove off and leave me alone, but they’re a persistent species, and inevitably I start writing…

Q. What tips would you give to an aspiring children’s author/illustrator?

Don’t try to write the way you think a writer should write. Write in your own voice – in your own style. Your words and characters will always sound more authentic if they come from a real place. The same applies to you drawings. Push yourself, but have them come from a place that’s truly yours. Oh, and try to write what you know. And if you don’t know what you want to know, go ahead and write about what you don’t know, and hope that no one knows that you don’t really know what you’re pretending to know.

Q. What advice would you give writers/illustrators in engaging with their audience?

Know your audience, and create words, language, pictures and situations that will engage them and keep them hooked. Children will put the book down pretty quickly if they lose interest in the story. You need to hold their attention all the way through.

Q. You are a regular guest on Toasted TV. Is the next progression The Dave Hackett movie? If so, who would play you?

It’s quite a coincidence you should ask. ‘The Amazing Dave Hackett Vs Sharon, the Mutant Grannysaurus’ is currently in production. All five members of One Direction are playing me. Can’t wait.

Q. If you could be any character from any book for a day who would you be and why?

I think it would be awesome to be Harry Potter – only the slightly older version, where he’s not so hopeless at making his spells work. Wingardium Leviosa indeed…

Q. What’s next from Dave Hackett?

Besides the movie with the lads from 1D (ha,ha,ha), I have a young adult novel ‘The Summer of Kicks’  coming out in September, a new cartooning book ‘Gross Cartooning’  that I’m self-publishing very very soon, a picture book next year, more cartooning books, a new and ridiculous chapter book for 8-12’s and all going well I’ll be starting some online cartooning courses for all ages to enjoy (even your granny, and that old dude down the street).

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