Quarto Kids | 30 April 2020Meet the Author: Rob Hodgson Share article facebook twitter google pinterest Rob Hodgson introduced readers to his dark humor in 2017 with The Cave and followed it up last year with The Woods. On May 19, Rob publishes My Best Friend, the deliciously dark tale of a mouse and the “best friend” who wants to eat him. Preorder the book here! Where did you get the idea for My Best Friend, and where do you get your ideas in general? The ideas for My Best Friend came from lots of places, and I smushed them all together! I wanted to do something with a really happy character who just radiates positivity (maybe to their detriment!) and that became Mouse. And I really wanted to do another book that takes place in one location (like The Cave), and that became the tree where mouse is taken to live. And finally I wanted to keep this one in the loose trilogy of books where there is an antagonistic relationship between the characters… so then came Giant Owl. Then it’s a case of staring at these things until a story starts to appear. This is essentially the third in a very loosely-tied series—My Best Friend, The Cave, The Woods—and all three books have pretty sinister twists to them! What made you want to explore these animal interactions with a dark sense of humor? What do you hope kids will take away from your books? I’m interested in the relationships we all have, especially with people we maybe didn’t choose to have relationships with (these are the juiciest and funniest relationships I think), such as your neighbours or work colleagues or people in your class at school. I find it totally fascinating that we all get thrown together and have to work out how to get along. And I’m also interested in the idea of perception and how one person sees something that might be totally different to how another person sees it. I guess ultimately this way of thinking is about empathy for others, and maybe more importantly, that your version of things might not be the only one. I never considered the books to be that dark, but if you’re writing books with morality as a theme, then you have to go a little towards the dark, otherwise the stakes are too low. Hopefully the books open up conversations and questions about the messy world of right and wrong. What advice would you give to aspiring authors? My advice to aspiring authors is to keep rewriting and rewriting. I think writing is mostly rewriting. And try to listen to other people’s advice more if you’re stubborn like me. How do you create your illustrations? How do you settle on a color scheme? Is your process the same for each book? I usually start making illustrations by sketching first. And then I try to figure out how to make all the different elements in the picture. I use a lot of different techniques and textures depending on what I’m trying to make. If I’m trying to make an image of a tree, then maybe I’ll do some rubbings of a real tree to use in the image, or do a block print using a wood cut. I’m kind of like a magpie trying to take lots of different bits from here and there and collage them into one image. I don’t know how I come up with colour schemes. Usually there is something in the image that has to be the colour it’s supposed to be, and then I work around that. Sometimes it’s about using a colour that works throughout a whole project, like giving Mouse a red nose because that would stand out on every page. For each book I start with some sketches and lines of text and lots of notes. And I keep adding to them, like rolling a snowball, then eventually you have so much stuff it kind of starts rolling by itself and you just have to make sure it doesn’t flatten anyone. What do you do when you’re not writing and illustrating? When I’m not writing and illustrating I love music and cycling and eating a lot of bread. What are you working on now? Right now I’m working on a book about the weather. And finishing up a trilogy of books about natural history. I wanted to focus on some books that were educational, and so I’ve been concentrating on these for a while. I’m ready to do something fiction based next, though! And don’t laugh, but I want to try and write a pilot for a TV show over the summer. We’ll see how that goes, ha. About the author Rob Hodgson was born in a seaside town in the south of England in 1988. He studied Illustration at Plymouth University. Today, he lives in Bristol, UK, where he spends his time making a mess and turning it into illustration projects, quality paper goods and books. His first author-illustrated book, The Cave, was published in 2017 to wide acclaim and has since sold in 10 languages and was chosen for the Booktrust Time to Read Campaign for 2019. Preorder the book! My Best Friend $18.99 Buy in US / Canada Share article facebook twitter google pinterest If you have any comments on this article please contact us or get in touch via social media.