The Writers’ Clubhouse: Q & A With Author Peter Carnavas

Peter Carnavas

Peter Carnavas

Welcome to the Writers’ Clubhouse. Join us behind the scenes in the book industry as we talk to prominent authors and illustrators about the process of creating great books for kids. Have you ever wanted to be a writer? Get inspired here!

Peter Carnavas is an award-winning children’s author and illustrator, based on the Sunshine Coast, Queensland. His debut picture book, Jessica’s Box, was released in 2008. Since then, he’s created over 20 stunning books, many of which have been translated for release around the world and transformed into stage plays, concerts, and visual installations. His latest novel, The Elephant, is aimed at upper primary readers (and beyond). It explores themes of grief, friendship, and resilience.

We spoke to Peter about what inspires him as a writer and asked what advice he would give to emerging writers.

Library For All increases literacy globally by bringing a unique digital library to readers without access to books. We work with writers all around the world who want to share their cultural stories and see their words in print.

Q: You have written and illustrated some amazing books for children, but what was your professional background before you became an author?
A: ​I was a primary school teacher before I became an author. I taught most year levels in primary school, and also worked as a music teacher for a few years. I loved the time spent with the children, especially reading picture books. In the end, I became so obsessed with picture books that I drifted away from teaching and started making books of my own.

Q: What is the best thing for you about being a published author/illustrator?
A: ​I love creating something that wouldn’t have existed otherwise, dreaming up a story and actually getting to bring it to life, to make it real. Then the bonus is that other people read it, respond to it, and even find ways to enjoy my story that surprise me. Sometimes other creative people take my stories further, turning them into plays or puppet shows, and this is quite an amazing feeling, to know that it all started with a little idea in my head. ​

Q: What are some of the key ingredients that make a great book for kids?
A: Great kids’ books need characters we care about, and a problem that we care about. It also helps if the stories are littered with ideas and themes that appeal to people of all ages, as children’s stories are often shared stories. ​I think it’s also important to think highly of readers, to trust that they are intelligent people that can bring their own knowledge and ideas to a story, without having to be spoonfed the storyline.

Q: What advice would you give someone who is just starting out as a writer or illustrator?
A: Just write. And write some more. And when you’re not writing, read. Every writer is a big reader, so the more stories you read, the better your own stories will become. ​

Looking for some great examples of kids’ books to inspire your writing? Look for these titles in stores, online or in your local library.