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 reorganised the spare bedroom of our house into a library for my parents' books. This might sound like a helpful thing for a child to do, but instead of ordering the books by subject or author, they were organised by size and colour, which made more sense to me at the time.
I can remember visiting our local library as a toddler. The picture books that we 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. The first children's novel that I read on my own was "The Folk of the Faraway Tree" by Enid Blyton. I went on to read other popular children's authors like C. S. Lewis, but like many children of my generation, the author who made the biggest impression on my early childhood was Roald Dahl.
It wasn't until I was about fourteen years old that it occurred to me that I might write for a living. I tried to make the covers of my school rough books look like the covers of novels. I produced a whole "Ruf Notes" trilogy as well as "A Complete Guide to Ruf Notes" each with its own reviews and biographical details on the inside covers and publisher's blurb on the back. Of course, there was nothing inside the books -except the rough notes that I took during lessons!
In 1984 I came to Nottingham to study architecture. It was while I was at college that I first started developing 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 that 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 lyrics and poems long after the band had become no more than an embarrassing memory. Then, one day, I decided to try to do an illustration to accompany the lyrics to one of the songs. I was pleased with the result, so I illustrated some of my poems, spending more and more time on each picture. Click here to see some of these early illustrations!
As an architect, I worked on a wide variety of projects including an art gallery, a theatre and an airport check-in building. However, I was never very happy in the job and was always saying that I didn't want to be doing it in ten years time. My wife, Rachel, was always telling me - selflessly - that she would support me if I wanted to give up architecture in order to pursue a career as a writer / illustrator. But it was not an easy decision to make I was afraid that I might give up a steady job only to find that I couldn't get anything published. However I eventually made the switch in 1995, a few months before my thirtieth birthday.
Fortunately, three months after leaving architecture I signed up with a good literary agent and a couple of months after that I sold my first pop-up book "Scraposaurus Wrecks." Unfortunately, although I completed the book, it was never published. This was a big disappointment, but the fact that I had sold the story, and been commissioned to illustrate and paper-engineer it, gave me the confidence to continue working on children's books and I subsequently succeeded in getting into print.
I am now a full time author / paper-engineer with a growing number of books in print and I really love my new job. I just wish I'd had the courage to start doing it earlier!
I live in Nottingham with my wife Rachel, and my children Max and Laura. Rebecca Harry studied graphic design and illustration in Exeter, Devon. She is the illustrator of I'M BIG ENOUGH NOW! and CATCH THAT KITTE"