Emirates Festival of Literature 2020: Ross Collins is coming to Dubai

We chat to the award-winning children's book author and illustrator

Emirates Festival of Literature 2020: Ross Collins is coming to Dubai

The award-winning children's book author and illustrator Ross Collins is coming to Dubai for the Emirates Festival of Literature.

We chat to the Scottish writer and illustrator ahead of his Dubai visit about his inspiration, his dislike of drawing horses and to find out and what little ones can look forward to at his "very silly" session.

We love This is a Dog, where did the idea come from?
When my son was very young we had to read him those basic animal books which are important but painfully boring for parents. I wondered if anyone had ever subverted that format and as no-one had I was just the man for the job.

It’s about an animal book that is effectively photo bombed by a dog..

How did it feel seeing your characters from The Elephantom come to life in a puppet show?
Magical! To watch the skilled actors and puppeteers of London’s National Theatre instinctively adapting and expanding my simple story was a real joy. I’ll never forget the look of pleasure on both children and adult’s faces when they were casually bopped on the head by a passing giant inflatable Elephantom.

Do you prefer writing or illustrating?
Well, I’ve written 16 books and illustrated 130 so that should answer your question. Both have their pleasures. Writing a concise and funny sentence is a lovely thing but creating worlds filled with characters who have an inner life using just a pencil is hard to beat.

You illustrate for young adult fiction as well as picture books, do you have a preference? Is there a different mindset involved for each?
There is a different mindset required which is really refreshing for an illustrator. I enjoy occasionally releasing my inner goth in my young fiction work but I do love creating an effective story in a picture book of only twelve spreads. Something about the economy of picture book storytelling is really pleasurable.

What do you like drawing the most? People? Animals?
I enjoy drawing pretty much anything apart from horses. I hate drawing horses.

How do you encourage kids to draw? Is it a natural talent or something you can learn?
Everyone can draw and any child can create really cool images but I think some people are born with natural draughtsmanship. It’s a hard thing to teach as it’s pretty instinctive. I encourage all children I meet to just have fun drawing and not to get hung up on making things ‘perfect’.

There’s a warning that your session may get very silly – tell us more…
I like to teach children about writing, illustration and books but I learned long ago that they learn far more when they are having fun. My events are very silly and I really enjoy being an unreliable narrator. To say any more would be spoilers!
Dhs39. Sat Feb 8, 2pm-3pm. Emirates Festival of Literature InterContinental, Dubai Festival City, www.emirateslitfest.com (04 355 9844).

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