Describe your latest project.
My new book is about a young cat called Splat who is preparing himself for his first day at Cat School and really isn't looking forward to it. In fact, it's fair to say that he'd rather go to the vet, or even have his fur combed, than go to this strange place called "school." But, as in life, the fear of something is most often worse than the thing itself, and as Splat's day continues he discovers that school actually has a lot going for it. He makes new friends and learns that there are many questions to be asked, and more importantly, that it's okay to ask them. Splat's first day of school is the first step on the most amazing adventure of his kittenhood, and by the time Splat wakes up to the second day of school, his tail is wiggling wildly with excitement.
Introduce one other author/illustrator you think people should read, and suggest a good book by him/her.
My favorite children's book is still Where the Wild Things Are by Maurice Sendak. Even though there are many, many wonderful picture books, this was the first picture book I was given and remains my favorite to this day.
For older children, any book by Michael Morpurgo.
Describe your most memorable teacher.
Mr. Malcolm Unsworth, aka "Sir." My Art teacher from Alderman Newton's Boys School, whose first words to me were, "I see you can draw." He spent the next seven years encouraging me and supplying me with free art materials.
A huge thank you to Mr. Malcolm Unsworth!
How did the last good book you read end up in your hands?
I attended a prize-giving breakfast, and one of the winning authors, Gabrielle Zevin, signed a copy of her book Elsewhere for me. Two weeks later, I was reading the book under a parasol on a beach in Spain and was moved to tears. Thankfully I was wearing sunglasses at the time. I thought it was the most beautiful story.
Do you read the Sunday funnies, and which are your favorites?
Calvin and Hobbes. The adventures of Calvin and his stuffed toy/imaginary tiger friend are soooooooooo funny, and the interaction between them is pure comic genius.
What is your favorite breakfast cereal?
Two Weetabix... with cornflakes... and banana... all mashed up in the same bowl!
What do you do for relaxation?
I love cycling, and I cycle around a lake, close to where I live, as often as possible. The lake is called Rutland Water and it was whilst riding my bike around there that I had the inspiration for my character
Russell the Sheep.
When you were a kid, what did you want to be when you grew up?
I wanted to be either a soccer player or an artist. I played soccer endlessly at home with my friends and brothers, breaking lots of windows and trampling all the flower beds. I had very patient parents who tried to persuade me, for the sake of their garden, to become an artist.
Share an interesting experience you've had with one of your readers.
I was in a bookshop in Miami as part of the promotional tour for my second book, Russell and the Lost Treasure. There was a storm going on, the like I'd rarely seen, and I waited for an audience to show. One bedraggled little boy arrived with his equally bedraggled dad, who asked if I'd be reading the book as there was no one else there. "But there is someone here," I said, and I sat with the little lad and read the story. When I reached the part where Russell takes photos of his family, the boy framed the word "Flash!" with his fingers and squealed "Flash!" I realized immediately that this was something I should be using in my book readings in schools, and from that point on, whenever I read the story to an audience I would get the kids to shout "Flash!" and gesture a flashing light. Although this might not sound like much, it worked really well and has added a lot to the whole storytelling experience. Yet, the idea came from a little, bedraggled four-year-old boy and my smallest-ever audience.
As an author and artist you have to be open to all experiences because you never know where the next idea will come from.
Tell us about your pets.
Growing up, our house was filled with barking, mewing, tweeting, and squeaking pets, and most mornings I would wake up with our pet cat lying around my feet and our two dogs on either side of me, pinning me down. I regularly had dreams of being unable to move and being stuck in a gigantic bowl of porridge. When I got a little older, I realized why.
Name the best Simpsons episode of all time, and explain why it's the best.
The Simpsons Movie contained the funniest thing I'd seen on screen for a long, long time: "Spider-Pig, Spider-Pig... does whatever a Spider-Pig... does." I still laugh out loud just thinking about Spider-Pig!
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Rob Scotton is the author and illustrator of the bestselling Russell the Sheep and Russell and the Lost Treasure. His work can also be found on greeting cards, ceramics, textiles, prints, stationery, and glassware. An honors graduate of Leicester Polytechnic, Rob now lives in Rutland, England, with his wife, Liz, who is also an artist.