Liz Pichon, author: “Politicians complain about low literacy, then shut down libraries”
Subscribe to our life and arts newsletter
Get a dose of inspiration with the FT Weekend newsletter – the best of life, arts and culture. Delivered every Saturday morning.
What was your childhood or your first ambition?
To be older. Older kids could stay up later, ride bigger fairground rides, see better movies.
Private school or public school? University or straight to work?
A large complex in Kilburn called St Augustine’s – I used to call it St Disgusting’s. I had some great times and some pretty lonely times. I graduated from Kingsway Princeton College in King’s Cross. They did a design course, and I loved it. After the foundation, I went to Camberwell School of Art. From not liking school, I started thinking, “That’s great!”
Who was or still is your mentor?
I did graphic design, but I snuck into a talk on Quentin Blake’s illustration and he was incredibly inspiring. I had never thought of illustrating children’s books. His books are great, so joyful.
Are you in good physical shape?
I’ve always treated fitness much like my accounts: little and often.
Ambition or talent: what matters more to succeed?
It’s a bit of both. The only thing I have is perseverance. There is also a bit of luck.
How politically engaged are you?
I still vote. Democracy right now: you can’t take it for granted. I get really mad when I hear about creative subjects being cut from schools and colleges. Politicians complain about low literacy levels – then close libraries. Encouraging kids to pick up books and read is my little way of trying to make sure creative topics don’t get pushed aside.
What would you like to own that you don’t currently own?
I collect original works by children’s book illustrators. I would like something by William Steig – he wrote Shrek. And Babette Cole. His books make me laugh out loud.
What is your biggest extravaganza?
Five years ago we bought a house in Mallorca.
Where are you the happiest?
Brighton, my house and my garden, in summer. And Mallorca out of season.
What motivates you ?
Time limit !
What is the greatest achievement of your life so far?
My family. Mark and I have been married for 32 years and have three adult children. Sometimes I can’t believe it.
What do you find most irritating in other people?
Arrogance. People who never listen. The two often go together.
If your 20-year-old self could see you now, what would she think?
She would be so happy that I managed to make a living from all the things I loved to do when I was a kid. I would tell her to be more confident and not put off writing stories. Being dyslexic, I never thought I could do that.
What item you lost would you like to still have?
My old report cards and the drawings I made when I was a child.
What is the greatest challenge of our time?
I feel like everything is a challenge today. Maintaining democracy and caring for the planet top the list.
Do you believe in life after death?
No. Although I like the idea.
If you had to rate your satisfaction with your life so far, out of 10, what would your score be?
A solid nine, aiming for a 10. I need a little more work/life balance. I would worry if I was completely satisfied: I would not aim.
“You Can Draw Tom Gates with Liz Pichon” is out, published by Scholastic
To follow @FTMag on Twitter to hear our latest stories first