Q. What inspired you to write for children?
I had always wanted to be a cartoonist as a kid, and while mum was at teachers college I spent a lot of time in the university library soaking up all the kids books. In my 20’s I was looking at going into either copy writing or journalism. But I wasn’t in a position to pursue tertiary education so I got a job in a bookshop. I had been drawing cartoons and selling them to greeting card companies for a while and when I saw all the picture books, I decided that was what I wanted to do. I spent the next few years teaching myself how to draw and write short stories and was rewarded when Scholastic selected my first manuscript from their unsolicited pile.
Q. Where is your favourite place to write?
At home. I live in the tropics of northern Australia in a shack on the beach which looks out towards Indonesia. Its always hot and there’s always a sea breeze. Perfect.
Q. What’s the best thing about being a children’s author?
I think to make a living out of the arts in Australia is a privilege. And picture book creation gets far more attention than other equally as important types of art that don’t have the same commercial prospects, so I feel very lucky. And there is nothing more rewarding than creating art for a specific audience and watching them enjoy and learn from it.
Q. How long do you live with a character in your head before you bring it to life on paper?
That can vary from ‘1 minute’ to’ ten years’.
Q. What tips would you give to someone just starting out?
Know your industry. Know exactly who publishes your kind of book and how you can make it easy for them to select your work. Ask someone at the publisher how they would like the work presented. Read every picture book you can. Don’t underestimate the intellect of your audience. Do overestimate the intellect of your audience.
Q. If you could be any character from any book for a day who would you be and why?
Ratty from Wind in the Willows because ‘… there is nothing – absolutely nothing – half so much worth doing as simply messing about in boats.’ (Kenneth Graham)
Q. What’s next from Nick Bland?
I have recently finished a picture book called King Pig which comes out next year and have started work on a 4th book in the bear series. Sequels are not my favourite thing but the freedom a best seller gives you to pursue grander projects is entirely worthwhile if the story is strong. After that is a secret monster project which is as yet untitled. I hope to write a bit more for other illustrators during that time also.