I’m a character, so write me, Daly

Niki Daly is an author and illustrator I interviewed. He writes and illustrates books for children for them to enjoy and to be entertained. The books he has written include The Little Girl who Lived Down the Road, which was first published in 1978, and Not so fast Songololo, which won the Katrine Harries Award for Illustrated Books and the Parents Choice Award for Literature.

Daly’s latest book is called Elsa and the Little Thingamajig. This story is about a little girl called Elsa who cleans up her bedroom for her gran. When she is done, a thingamajig pops out of a closet and messes everything up. Elsa goes mad and tells the thingamajig to clean up the mess it has made. The thingamajig calls Big Mama, who cleans up everything. Elsa wants her gran to meet her new friends, so she goes to call her, but when she comes back the thingamajig and Big Mama are gone.

Daly didn’t want to become an illustrator at first. He wanted to be a rock star and in the 1970s he recorded two albums in London.

He has always loved drawing. Growing up, he didn’t have any sketch books and used to draw in the columns of newspapers. He went to art college and became a graphic designer, working in advertising, but he always felt that it was a waste because people would throw magazines away. So he started illustrating children’s books and with that he started writing. Daly felt that his pictures were now in a safe haven because people don’t throw books away.

What inspire Daly when he writes books are the drawings. With Elsa and the Little Thingamajig it was Joan Rankin’s illustrations that inspired the story. He showed me a notebook that he carries around with him and in it he draws people he sees in airports and other places. He says a character will ‘speak” to him, saying ‘I’m a good character, I will not disappoint you” and he will write a story about that character.

Daly says books imitate life. But instead of a girl just going to a supermarket, she could meet a wolf along the way and have tea with him and that’s what makes the story interesting. He says that if you have a passion for books, writing a story is easy.

Daly enjoys drawing people. He finds it very difficult to draw cars, buildings and animals. He does not write books for adults because he says there are no illustrations in them and he sees himself more as an illustrator than a writer.

Before Daly left I asked him: ‘What advice would you give to someone who wanted to start writing?” He said: ‘You can do it. Try to write about things that excite you. If you are still a child write a little story and, who knows, that story can become a great book.”

I really enjoyed interviewing Niki Daly and would like to thank everyone who made it possible.

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