Gary Northfield has been writing and drawing comics since 2002. He is most famous for Derek the Sheep – a comic strip that appeared in The Beano. Gary has also created comics for National Geographic Kids magazine, The Phoenix, The Dandy, Horrible Histories magazine and Horrible Science magazine. Gary is the author of the highly-acclaimed The Terrible Tales of the Teenytinysaurs published by Walker Books and Gary’s Garden from David Fickling Books.
Q. What books did you read when you were a child?
A. Comics, such as Asterix, Peanuts and Marvel. I also enjoyed plenty of non-fiction from the library, especially dinosaur encyclopedias or books on mysteries like UFOs or ghosts.
Q. If you could be a storybook character who would you be?
A. I love the idea of time travel, so I’d like to be the time traveller in HG Wells’ Time Machine. I’d go backwards in time though and check out 18th Century London and stalk my ancestors.
Q. What is the best thing about reading?
A. Being lost in a new world and being excited by the unknown. Wondering where the narrative is going to take you and how the author is going to resolve story threads.
Q. What is your all time favourite book?
A. Tolkien’s The Hobbit. Here is a great example of a beautifully realised world, perfectly and simply narrated by a master of the English language.
Q. Other than reading books what is the most important thing a parent can do to help develop their children’s communication skills?
A. I think probably communication as a child has a lot to do with confidence. Encourage them to develop and focus on the things that interest them, then they will happily, and expertly, tell you everything you need to know about the subject. Let them be creative and make mistakes too.
Q. How big a part did your parents play in encouraging your writing skills?
A. My mum saw potential in my storytelling from when I was very young. When I was about 7 or 8 years old, I’d written a story about a dog escaping from a dog boarding kennel, which sparked her into getting me to write stories during the school holidays. I used to love writing, as well as drawing, so it was fantastic to have a parent encourage me in that direction.
Q. How do you encourage your children or grandchildren to read, what books do you enjoy reading with them?
A. I have neither children nor grandchildren, but I used to lodge with my friends who have two young girls and I loved reading stories to them. Particular favourites were the Mr Men books and I couldn’t help but get carried away with putting on funny voices for each character. I get emails from parents who enjoy reading my stories to their children and making up funny voices for everyone. It really helps bring the stories to life and they demand to hear more!
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