Photo provided by Andy Ellis
Andy grew up in the country. He ran a bit wild until his parents caught him and suggested that it might be a good idea if he learned to read. After that, whenever his poor parents could get him to sit still, he would draw on pieces of paper. He showed some drawings to a college and they said he could practice drawing there if he liked. Next he showed some of his pictures to an animation company, who also did comic-strips. Andy drew comic-strips. Then he showed them to book publishers who asked Andy to draw books for them. They even paid him to do it! One or two of the braver ones asked him to have a go at writing, too! Sometimes Andy has ideas. Once Andy had half an idea. Luckily, the person who had the other half of the idea ran an animation company. So Andy’s half an idea was turned into an animation series. When Andy isn’t writing or drawing, he makes large, mournful landscapes and sometimes large, mournful people buy them to put on their walls. Andy lives in a big city, called London, with his wife, Mary, who is also a writer, and his two children, Matilda and Tabitha. They all make Andy laugh and Andy makes them laugh right back. When not writing, or drawing, or making landscapes, Andy can be seen cycling about the place and staring off into space. If you didn’t know him better, you might think there was nothing in his head at all.
What was your favorite book when you were a child?
- It was called The Tall Book of Make-Believe. It was a collection of poems and stories selected by Jane Werner and illustrated by Garth Williams. It was first published in 1950 by Harper & Brothers, New York / London.
What’s your favorite line from a book?
- "How late it is now. To plead and pray. Please leave open all the little gates. That lead to the garden of your heart. That once I heard you say. Out of all your sins. And with all your soul. Would never close."—Leila by J. P. Doneavy
Who are your top three favorite authors or illustrators?
Top children’s illustrators are: Eva Eriksson, J. P. Miller, and John A. Rowe, not to mention…Barbara Nascimbeni, Neil Layton, Rosanne Litzinger, Oliver Jeffers, Quentin Blake, J. Otto Seibold, and Els Cools & Oliver Streich.
Why did you want to become an author or illustrator?
Drawing was the only consistent thing in a rather chaotic childhood, but the big surprise was to discover that other people liked my drawings! As for becoming an author, it was cruelly forced on me by unscrupulous editors when I was an impressionable youth! But I’ve come to terms with it now.
Do you have any advice for future authors or illustrators?
- Another J. P. Donleavy quote I’m afraid. . ."Always be noble in the best sense of what that word means. Take’s life’s blows standing up. Speak softly when others shout. Keep your own counsel. Blithely ignore sneers. Educate your mind so that you can always privately live and enjoy life in a world of your own."