The Perse School

An interview with … Chris Riddell and Paul Stewart

9 Apr 2014

Last week, the children in Years 5 and 6 at the Prep were delighted to welcome authors Chris Riddell and Paul Stewart. They were captivated by Chris’ phenomenal talent as he recreated characters, including a Wig Wig and a Gabtroll from The Edge Chronicles.

The children were given a marvellous insight into the workings of such imaginative story-tellers, as Paul Stewart humorously described the origins of some of their memorable characters. Paul also treated us to a reading from the pair’s new book Scavenger.

After the talk, the Prep’s Library Club interviewed Chris and Paul – we hope you enjoy reading the answers to their probing questions below!

What is your favourite book of all time?
Chris Riddell: “My favourite book is Flat Stanley. I love the idea of being so flat that you could post yourself! My favourite book now is Goth Girl! I also love Clockwork by Philip Pullman.”

Why do you like to write fantasy?
Paul Stewart: “I grew up in Morden, which is a suburb of London and the most boring place on earth! I dreamt that there was a world on the other side of the wardrobe, like in The Chronicles of Narnia, but there was always only the back of the wardrobe.”

Chris Riddell:  “Fantasy is really fun to draw because it is set in a completely different world.”

Paul Stewart: “I remember one time we travelled to New York together and Chris said that on this trip he was only going to draw real life. He bought this very expensive leather sketch book and we went and sat in Central Park. He drew an old lady who was power walking and then an old man walking his dogs, and then half an hour later he had drawn a goblin!”

Chris Riddell: “I just couldn’t help it!”

Do all your author talks go according to plan?
Paul Stewart: “No, there was one trip when we went to Ireland to promote Fergus Crane. Everybody forgot to ship over any of the books, so there wasn’t a single one in the whole of Ireland! I had the only copy and I was standing in a book shop about to do a reading from it when this Irish bloke came up to me and said: “This is a very nice book. I like this book”, and then wandered off with it! On that trip we didn’t sell a single book and we lost our only copy!”

Paul, why do you like to write?
Paul Stewart: “When you are sitting in a study, writing with your eyes closed, you can be anywhere you want.”

Chris, what do you do in your spare time?
Chris Riddell: “When I’m not working, I sit down at a desk and draw! I don’t know if I’m working all of the time or if I never work, but I do know that I do the perfect job!”

Did you read to your children?
Chris Riddell: “Yes! Yes, I used to love reading to my children! It is such a special thing. I think parents should read to their children more. I remember reading them the first three Harry Potter books and then my son saying he would read the next one himself. That was very sad when they stopped asking me to read to them.”

What advice would you give a child who wants to be an illustrator or write?
Chris Riddell: “Buy a sketchbook and fill it up.”
Paul Stewart: “Write a lot and when you have finished show it to a friend. If they ask what happens next, then you know you are onto something.”






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