Without a doubt, Where The Wild Things Are, by Maurice Sendak, was the book that first inspired me to become a children’s book illustrator. I didn’t know I would be a children’s book writer then, but the book’s poetic cadences stuck inside my head and have influenced me ever since.
Eventually the time came when I wrote my homage to this amazing book. I submitted it in various guises to many publishers who all like my story but somehow we could never quite get it right.
Every year I would rewrite the story and redesign the character to no avail. Then one year I got the character right but still couldn’t get the story to work. That was when I admitted to myself that the problem was that I was trying to rewrite Where The Wild Things Are, which doesn’t need rewriting at all – it’s just perfect.
But I loved the new character that I’d drawn. So I decided to write new stories for him Monster Boy was born. When the series came out and I went visiting schools, children pointed out that the werewolf in Werewolf Wail looks just like Max from Where The Wild Things Are, as if he had grown up but never thrown his wolf suit away.
I really didn’t know I was doing this while writing and illustrating the books. It’s amazing how much you can do subliminally, or in a state of denial. I thought I’d mention this because the illustrator Sarah McIntyre linked to a page of Maurice Sendak drawings by other artists which I found great fun and a huge relief to know that I’m not the only one!