I was born in Leicestershire in 1965, the son of a rig-fitter and a primary-school teacher. I was fascinated with books from an early age. As a small boy, I reorganized the box room of our house into a library of my parents’ books. However, instead of ordering the books by subject or author, they were organized by size and color, which made more sense to me at the time.
I remember visiting my local library as a toddler and the picture books that I borrowed then, including Where the Wild Things Are by Maurice Sendak, The Cat in the Hat by Dr. Seuss and Harold and the Purple Crayon by Crockett Johnson, have had a great influence on the picture books that I now write. However, the author who had the biggest influence on my childhood was Roald Dahl.
It was while I was at college studying architecture that I first began to develop my skills as a writer and illustrator. I was in a band for a short time—it was a pretty crummy band. We never even played a gig. We just fooled around pretending to rehearse. But, because I was the only one who couldn’t play an instrument, I had to sing (I am using the word sing very loosely here) and this meant that I also had to write lyrics. I enjoyed this and kept on writing long after the band had become no more than an embarrassing memory. After leaving college, I worked as an architect for several years before pursuing a full-time career in children’s books. I live in Nottingham, with my wife, Rachel, and my children, Max and Laura.
The first Mole book, Bringing Down the Moon, started life as a story about a man trying to build a tower to the moon, but the story didn’t work very well until I hit upon the idea of making the main character a mole. A mole lives underground and might never have come across the moon before. And moles are short-sighted, so they would have difficulty judging distance. There are now four Mole books. I think one of the reasons readers like Mole so much is that he is so determined—even when he’s trying to do something that’s impossible! In addition to writing picture books, I also write and paper-engineer pop-up books.
Three Things You Might Not Know About Me:
1. I was given a prize for growing “the most beautiful sunflower” at primary school.
2. I once waddled through the town square of Sienna in Italy disguised as ET.
3. I am 100 percent biodegradable.