Quarto Kids | 4 November 2019Meet the Author: Neil Clark Share article facebook twitter google pinterest This month we’re talking to Clever Cogz series creator Neil Clark! Perfect for vehicle-mad pre-schoolers, the Clever Cogz series lets readers discover different vehicles, from space rockets to racing cars. Bite-sized text and colorful, informative illustrations introduce the transport topics in a simple, engaging way for young readers with a passion for machines. Order copies of the first two books in the series and pre-order upcoming books here. What prompted you to write the Clever Cogz series? And did you always envision it as a series? Getting my debut book published happened quite suddenly for me. After the excitement of Rusty the Squeaky Robot, I had some time to think about what to take on next. The guys at Plum Pudding (my wonderful agent!) suggested trying a non-fiction book. My bold, geometric style lent itself so well to robots – so why not real life mechanics and machines!The original concept I pitched was for a single book, each page exploring a new machine or vehicle. I was over the Moon when Quarto said they’d love to create a Clever Cogz series! What is your process like for paring down such intricate information into bite-sized pieces for young readers? This was a learning curve! I’d never written a fact book before Clever Cogz came along, so I had to come up with a couple of tricks pretty quickly. Firstly – I thought like a child! I’d ask myself how would I like to learn about space rockets or cars? The answer was by making it super fun and super snappy. Secondly, my Mum is a primary school teacher – so I would run things by her to make sure I was on the right track! What research do you do for each book? What challenges have you encountered with your research? It’s so easy these days to simply rely on the internet. And I admit it – I couldn’t have done these books without Wikipedia! But I also read books and watched videos. It’s amazing how many excavator documentaries there are on YouTube! Some things came easier than others. I’m a huge space rocket nerd. So anything to do with the moon landing was such a pleasure to research. Other things, like the maximum capacity of a hot air balloon, or the science behind hydraulics, were more tricky. The metric system also caused confusion at times! Luckily, the amazing team at Quarto came to the rescue now and again! What do you do when you’re not writing and illustrating? Well my wife and I had a beautiful daughter this year. So changing nappies and mopping up baby food keeps me busy! I love to play guitar and piano, and venture out on my skateboard. Making time for these kind of things, as well as having a child around, really helps fuel my imagination. What advice do you have for aspiring authors? Don’t wait for anyone to do it for you! I got my big break by writing and illustrating a book off my own back, and getting it out there for people to see and enjoy. Write about what you enjoy, things that you emotionally connect with and have a passion for. That way it never feels like work! And I know everyone says it, but read, read, read. Get familiar with the wealth of inspiration out there. I’ve been addicted to buying children’s books for years, long before actually having a child to read them to! What are you working on now? I can’t wait to see the next two Clever Cogz books hit the stores this month! There’s also two new books about an explorer called Zumi that I’ve created for Igloo Books. I’ve got another science book in the works (nothing to do with Cogz the Dog this time!) and an amazing little board book called Evie & Juno that I can’t wait to share with everyone. Busy, busy! About Neil Clark Neil Clark grew up in the small village of Bishop Wilton, at the foot of the picturesque Yorkshire Wolds. Despite dreams of being a rock & roll star, his love for illustration and storytelling led to a happy and successful career in design, from designing greetings cards to creating unique screen prints and children’s books. Neil is a lover of music, travelling the world, skateboarding and his mischievous cat, Mila. Share article facebook twitter google pinterest If you have any comments on this article please contact us or get in touch via social media.