How I write: author and illustrator of children’s books Ned Barraud


Author Ned Barraud recently drew inspiration from the graphic novels “It's a powerful and relatively new form of storytelling”.

Provided

Author Ned Barraud recently drew inspiration from the graphic novels “It’s a powerful and relatively new form of storytelling”.

Ned Barraud is an award-winning illustrator and author, who lives in the misty hills of Karori with his wife and three children.

He studied at the University of Otago and Victoria University, worked at Weta Digital and created numerous non-fiction children’s books. Barraud is passionate about wildlife and arouses children’s curiosity for the natural world. His latest books, Backyard birds and Incredible trips, were published by Potton & Burton in time for Christmas.

Which book would you have liked to write and why?

The classic picture books from my childhood are what struck me the most. I would love to write and illustrate something that remains an everlasting and enduring, multigenerational classic like Green Eggs and Ham by Dr Suess or the tiger who came for tea by Judith Kerr. These books have touched the lives of so many and will continue to do so.

Which writer do you turn to when you have writer’s block?

When I look for new inspiration, it is mainly towards the library that I turn, rather than towards a particular author. Recently, it was the graphic novel section that kept me coming back for more. I am completely in awe of what some of these artists / authors can do by combining pictures with words in the most fantastic way. It’s a powerful and fairly new form of storytelling. I am addicted.

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What book stood out on you so much that you bought it for your friends?

I love to read to my children. If ever another parent asks me to suggest something to read to their children, then this is the Brother wolf series by Michele Paver, which is our favorite. It takes you back to the Stone Age, when humans were hunter-gatherers. It is so well documented and described by the author that it really feels like part of this world of our ancestors 10,000 years ago. Plus, the super realistic pen and ink drawings look gorgeous.

When it comes to a memorable book, what is more important, a great storyline or great characters?

I would say the characters but also the world they occupy is very important. Often what I have the longest left is the global world that has been created. I can think of many examples, but Tolkien’s world of Middle-earth is probably the best example. The Lord of the Rings the movies did a lot of damage, but I think they did a great job recreating his world. The Hobbit films yet … so terrible; I’m sure Tolkien was rolling in his grave.

Incredible Journeys: New Zealand Wildlife on the Move, is a collection of stories about the travel and migration patterns of New Zealand animals designed to fascinate any child fascinated by nature.

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Incredible Journeys: New Zealand Wildlife on the Move, is a collection of stories about the travel and migration patterns of New Zealand animals designed to fascinate any child fascinated by nature.

What books made you cry?

I have always felt a deep sadness when I read that nature is destroyed to make room for humanity. This is the theme that makes me sad and crazy. Farewell to Shady Glade by Bill Peet is one and the other is The Lorax by Dr Suess. i remember the story Ship down by Richard Adams tore me apart. These early warnings of environmental destruction had a great effect on me. That’s why I try to promote nature with my work. If kids care about the natural world, they’ll want to save it, and it really needs to be saved now.

What’s your guilty pleasure reading list?

I guess, comics or graphic novels, although I don’t feel so guilty as I think they can be as much of a work of art as any other genre. I read a brilliant autobiographical cartoon by a Quebec artist named Michel Rabagliati. He did a whole series and the last one is Paul at home. These are just normal everyday occurrences, but it is a window to her world and beautifully illustrated.

Where are you happiest with a book in your hand?

I have a favorite spot on our corner sofa, which looks out over the bush covered hills of Karori, Wellington. It is bathed in sunshine and protected from this nasty wind. I can hear all the chatter of the birds outside.

New Zealand's Backyard Birds is a children's guide to the birds that live in their backyards, from native tūi and pīwakawaka to introduced birds such as blackbirds and sparrows.

Thing

New Zealand’s Backyard Birds is a children’s guide to the birds that live in their backyards, from native tÅ«i and pÄ«wakawaka to introduced birds such as blackbirds and sparrows.

What’s your writing routine?

I am in the morning. Once the house is emptied and I’m armed with my first coffee, I can crack. One day I would like a studio separate from the main house. I can imagine it in my mind and it’s fabulous – think of a treehouse, with a view of the sea.

  • Ned Barraud’s latest books, Backyard Birds and Incredible Journeys, are now available from Potton & Burton Publishers.


Grover Z. Barnes