The Writers’ Clubhouse: Q & A With Author and Illustrator Tohby Riddle

Tohby Riddle

Tohby Riddle

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! 

Tohby Riddle is an award-winning writer, illustrator, cartoonist, designer and sometime editor based in Sydney. He has written and illustrated numerous well-loved picture books; written a young adult novel; was the cartoonist for Good Weekend for nearly ten years; and is a former editor of The School Magazine, a literary magazine for children published by the NSW Department of Education. His picture books include The Great Escape From City Zoo, The Royal Guest, Nobody Owns The Moon, My Uncle’s Donkey and Unforgotten.

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 some amazing books for children, but what was your professional background before you became an author?

A. I made my first book when I was about 22, so I didn’t have much of a professional background. I’d gone to art school, though – and was studying architecture, both of which informed what I was doing with picture books.

Q. What is the best thing for you about being a published author?

A. Being able to turn your interests and ideas into books. It’s also good to be able to travel to different towns, cities and countries and meet the children and adults who read your work.

Q. What are some of the key ingredients that make a great book for kids?

A. Humour (or at least not humourlessness), surprise, clarity of expression, and writing from a strong memory or feeling about what it is like to be a child.

Q. What advice would you give someone who is just starting out as a writer?

A. Finish things! Get used to the process of starting something and sticking with it until you finish it. It will serve you well. And write about things you really want to write about. It helps to be really interested and excited about what you’re working on.

Q. What is your next big creative project?

A. I’m working on new picture book called The Astronaut’s Cat. It will be published by Allen & Unwin in early 2020.

Looking for some great writing to inspire your work? Look for Tohby Riddle’s books in stores or at your local library.