Mummy and Me Magazine August 2014 September 2014 - Page 34

Early Years An interview with... Nick Butterworth... QPOOTLE 5 - NICK BUTTERWORTH Where did the initial inspiration come from to write children’s books? In 1980, I decided to concentrate on illustration rather than graphic design. Being a new dad helped me to become reacquainted with children’s books and I wondered if there might be an opportunity there for me. It soon became clear that if you want to control what you illustrate, you have to come up with the stories, too! I very quickly took to this new role as writer and illustrator and have been enjoying it for more than thirty years. It’s much better than doing a proper job! Did your children have any influence on your characters and their stories? I don’t think Ben or my daughter Amanda influenced my work directly. But by just being the children they were, lively, full of questions, full of fun, they kept me inspired. I used to make up stories for them, in which they were the heroes. They liked those and would contribute ideas as we went along. I think the only one of those ‘make up’ stories that made it into print, was Amanda’s Butterfly. (And in Q Pootle 5, it was Amanda’s idea that he should fix his new rocket booster onto his spaceship with Sellotape. But then she was eighteen at the time!) Having said that, Ben, as an adult and now business partner, has contributed enormously to the development of characters and stories for the Q Pootle 5 animated series. You have written many successful books with 34 | characters we have all fallen in love with from Percy The Park Keeper and Tiger through to the Q Pootle 5 series now animated for CBeebies. Who is your favourite character and why? Impossible! You might as well ask a mum which one of her children is her favourite! I have to say that, working closely with Q Pootle 5 for the last six years, I have grown in my admiration for the little chap. He’s not a super-hero kind of leader, but his friends look up to him because he’s always there for them. He can get things wrong but he’s kind and fun and he takes responsibility without expecting a big pat on the back for it. Percy the Park Keeper is very similar. I do have a great soft spot for old Percy, because he so reminds me of my grandpa. These days people say they think Percy is like me! Well, as I’m now a grandpa myself, I’ll take that as a great compliment. Your career to date has been quite diverse from illustration and writing a regular children’s feature for the Sunday Express, to speaking at schools and book festivals,  and most recently forming ‘Snapper Productions’ with your wife and son enabling the creation of animation of Q Pootle 5. What area of work do you like best? It’s hard to say what I like most. I love writing – creating something out of nothing. I love illustration too, especially the initial drawing when you first discover what a character looks like. These are solitary occupations and working alone is not my favourite aspect of book work. I have really enjoyed working with my wife and son and all the other very talented people who have been involved in the animation process – actors, writers, sound engineers, musicians and of course a great team of animators. WWW.MUMMYANDMEMAGAZINE.CO.UK