Having known Nigel for a while, mainly through us both teaching on the same stretch of the East Anglian coast, I was thrilled to hear that he's about to publish his debut picturebook. As the first stop on his blog tour, it was a pleasure to talk to him about the book, Freddie's Impossible Dream, as well as chat with his nine-year-old son, Robbie, who's also the illustrator.
Hi Nigel. It's been a while! How would you sum up your new picturebook in a sentence?
It's a story about never giving in to your worries and chasing your dreams, no matter how difficult and how far away they seem.
Having your young son as the illustrator of the book is very unusual. What's the story behind that?
Robbie’s favourite hobby is drawing. Every spare moment he gets, he has a pencil in his hand. One day, I asked him what he wanted to be when he was older. He said an animator and an illustrator. When I asked him why he had to wait until he was older, he exclaimed, "I can’t be an illustrator yet, I'm only eight years-old!" So I made a deal with him and said, "I'll write a picture book, and you can illustrate it. Then we'll try to get it published." Now, Robbie's a published illustrator at the age of nine and I wouldn't have wanted to be on this journey with anyone else.
Has being a teacher given you any insight into what makes a good picturebook?
I would say that it has. I wrote the story with the intention of using the insight I have gained from my research into reading and the knowledge I have gained through being a teacher. I just hope I pulled it off. Also, having Robbie involved was fantastic. He is the target audience and the details he added to the illustrations were wonderful. An example of this is the crab character in the book. This was all Robbie's idea and I feel it will really resonate with the children that read the book and will add a different, fun dimension to the story.
I already have three other stories that I've written during lockdown. I just love writing, which is very handy as I have a head full of stories. The thing I am most looking forward to is watching Robbie's drawing style develop over time. My dream is to inspire children to write their own stories because, for me, books are the greatest gift you can give.
Hello Robbie. It's lovely to meet you. How does it feel to be publishing a book with your dad?
It feels good because I'm only 9 and I'm publishing a book. Working with Dad is good because I have known him my whole life and it is great to be working with him instead of some random person who I don't know.
Why is drawing so important to you?
I love drawing because you can be very creative and imaginative with it. I am really happy with the evolution of my drawing because I have gone from drawing stick men and now I can draw someone in a landmark easily. My favourite thing to draw is Spiderman.
Do you plan to work with your dad again in the future? Are there any other authors or illustrators that you would really like to work with?
Yes, I would definitely work with him again because making this book has been really fun and I want to sell enough books to buy an Xbox Series X. I would definitely like to work with Jeff Kinney because I really like his Wimpy Kid books. I'd also love to work with Dav Pilkey because I find his books funny.
Thank you both. Very best of luck with the release of the book! I'm looking forward to having a read.
Freddie's Impossible Dream is being released on Thursday 17th December. If you want to purchase a copy, you can get hold of it directly from Miss Wright Publishing by using this link.