1. What was the best thing about illustrating Trouble For Toby?
I thoroughly enjoyed reading Janet Reid's humorous and beautifully written story. For me to enjoy illustrating a children's book, it's really important that I can relate to it in some way. So the best thing about illustrating Trouble For Toby, was that immediate connection I felt to the main character. Toby reminded me very much of my own son when he was younger.
His heart was in the right place, but his imagination and impulsiveness often led to trouble.
2. Toby desperately wants a pet, but his parents don’t think he can look after one. Did your parents let you get a pet when you were a kid? Were you able to look after it?
Thinking back, I feel sorry for my parents. After many years of nagging and trying to convince my parents that I knew everything about ponies from reading books, they reluctantly agreed to let me buy one. Our neighbour sold me her ageing pony before she moved to the suburbs. While I successfully looked after my pony, I had no horse riding experience. Apparently, this is knowledge you learn from practical experience, like horse riding lessons, not from reading books.
I'm lucky to be alive really, after the amount of times my beloved pony aimed my head towards a low hanging branch, tossed me into a creek and trampled over the top of me.
3. Toby’s imagination takes him to crazy places. What is your favourite imaginary place that readers visit in the book?
When Toby convinces Sam to be park rangers in search for rare animals in the Tranquillity Garden. I will say no more, as I don't want to spoil any hairy surprises.
4. If you could be any fictional character, who would it be?
Anne of Green Gables because I enjoyed spending most of my childhood living in my own imaginary worlds, without a care in the world. Plus Prince Edward Island is my utopia. The scenery is positively sublime and the lobster is irresistibly delicious.
5. What do you love the most about children’s books? Are there one or two books that stick in your mind as most meaningful? Why?
I've always loved looking at pictures in children's books. The artwork in children's books was the very thing that influenced me to want to become an illustrator. I was a reluctant reader with a love for stories, so I was more inclined to read picture books or comic books, because the combination of words and pictures was easier for me to follow along.
During middle primary school, my favourite children's chapter book was The Silver Brumby by Elyne Mitchell. It was one of few 'illustrated' chapter books on a subject that interested me. If I was a child today, I believe I’d be an avid reader due to the much larger selection of illustrated chapter books offered in libraries.