Interview: Scott Tulloch talks about Keep an Eye on this Kiwi
Scott Tulloch is the author-illustrator of the hilarious Too Much Poo, Tyranno-sort-of Rex, I Am Not a Worm! and The Silly Goat Gruff. He has also illustrated the Scholastic hit titles The Scariest Thing in the Garden, Square Eyes, My Daddy Ate an Apple and How Does the Giraffe Get to Work? amongst others. Scott is a full-time author-illustrator and he lives in Wanaka.
I Am Not a Worm! was shortlisted for 2015 NZCYA Book Awards in two categories: Best Picture Book and Children’s Choice Awards. Books he has illustrated have also won three Storylines Notable Book awards. His first book, Willy’s Dad was shortlisted for the 2008 LIANZA Russell Clarke Illustration Award and 2008 BPANZ Design Award. Scott regularly engages with kids on school tours organised by Duffy Books in Homes, the Storylines Charitable Trust and NZ Book Council. When not working, Scott enjoys spending time in the hills and on the lake. He talks to NZ Booklovers about Keep an Eye on This Kiwi.
Tell us a little about Keep an Eye on this Kiwi.
It’s a comic-book story about a funny, dumb-dumb kiwi who gets outwitted by his food.
What inspired you to write and illustrate this book?
I’ve always preferred to make comic-style books with characters that speak out loud. I find these types of characters much more involving than ones in conventional picture books.
Was there any research involved?
None. I already had a fair bit of knowledge about the creatures involved.
What was your routine or process when writing and illustrating this book?
I started by giving the main character a personality. In this case the kiwi is a bit of a dumb-dumb, but he refuses to accept this. I then created a secondary character with an opposite personality in order to create friction between the two. In this book the secondary character is an unseen narrator who makes fun of the kiwi, thereby creating scope for silly dialogue. The unseen narrator also speaks directly to the reader of the book, thereby involving them in the story. Finally, I imagined further scenarios in which other characters the kiwi might encounter would expose his dumbness, and from this I created more ridiculous conversations that built the story’s narrative.
What did you enjoy the most about writing and illustrating this book?
The silliness of it. It’s the kind of story that allows my mind to wander in random directions just because they amuse me. Also the simplicity of the illustrations.
What would you like readers to take away from reading this book?
Sore ribs (from laughing).
What did you do to celebrate finishing this book?
Sighed with relief! Finishing a book is always a drama. The final stages involve arguments with publishers, hissy-fits at designers and all-round deadline stress. The fun bit of creating a story has long been forgotten and now it’s just a mad scramble to get it published to everyone’s satisfaction and on time.
What is the favourite book you have read so far this year and why?
None, so far. I mean, I’ve read a few book but nothing that really sticks in my mind. See, I tend to read to switch off, and once I’ve finished a book – even a good one – I promptly forget what it was about and what it was called! It’s a bit frustrating to be honest.
What’s next on the agenda for you?
Keep an Eye on this Koala! Actually, this next title is now done and dusted and is already being printed. Keep an eye out ;-)