Author Interview: Adam Stower

This month our junior reader subscribers enjoyed the fabulous new book by Adam Stower in their book box: Murray And Bun, Murray The Viking. It's the first in a brand new adventure series that's purr-fect for independent young readers; a funny, exciting adventure story with wonderful illustrations throughout. An award-winning illustrator and author who has been drawing pictures and making up stories for as long as he can remember, Adam was born in England but grew up in Switzerland and Germany! We are thrilled to have had the opportunity to ask Adam a few questions; here's what he had to share with us: 

What was the inspiration the new Murray and Bun series?
I have a cat called Murray. When he goes out, I never REALLY know where he goes or what he gets up to. I thought it would be fun to add a magic cat flap and see what sort of adventures that would lead to. I want to write fun, nimble stories that can take place anywhere and at any time in history. That way there are plenty of possibilities for adventure that will be a joy to write and hopefully a joy to read.

Who are some of your favourite animals in fiction that you have read - either growing up or as an adult?
I’m a big Roald Dahl fan and so Fantastic Mr.Fox is definitely a favourite. Also I love the relationship between Calvin and his tiger Hobbes in the amazing comic strip by Bill Watterson.

Do you feel you share more of Murray's characteristics, or Bun’s?
I think we are all part Murray and part Bun. Murray loves the quiet life and Bun embraces adventure. I am more Murray than Bun, but I strive to BE MORE BUN! Exciting things happen when we step out of our comfort zones and take a risk. We should all BE MORE BUN!
If you were to able to head through Murray's magic cat flap, where would you most like to find yourself?
Somewhere warm. Ancient Greece perhaps? But honestly, it would be more for the beaches than the history
Do you think you would have enjoyed living amongst the Vikings?
Maybe. I would enjoy living by the sea, mucking about in boats and sitting around roaring fires eating and drinking with my friends. But I think I like modern comforts too much to stay for long.
Do you usually begin a book like this with illustrations, or the story, or do they develop organically together?
My ideas all begin in sketchbooks, with drawings of characters and possible scenarios. When I am dreaming up a story, it plays out in my imagination like a movie in my head. Then I plot out the story in a notebook, figuring out the phases and pacing of the narrative. Then I rough out the whole book with sketches, deciding which parts to tell with words, pictures or a mixture of the two. I enjoy adding visual gags too, which are textless. It’s good fun.
What are your three most important tools for illustrating?
My sketchbook, my pencil case and my computer. All my final art is made digitally in Photoshop these days….. Oh, and coffee and biscuits...
Did you study or train to become an illustrator or a writer? Was this a career that you always aspired to?
Yes, I trained as an illustrator. I did a foundation course in art and design in Cambridge, then a three year BA in Illustration at the Norwich School of  Art, and then I came to Brighton to do a two year Master of Arts course in Narrative illustration. I never knew that this job existed when I was at school, but I knew I LOVED drawing. I always have. Doing the foundation course was one of my best decisions ever. It opened up the world of illustration and I have never looked back. I started working as a freelance Illustrator when I was doing my MA and I have been working ever since. I am very lucky. I love it.
What are your biggest challenges as an author-illustrator?
Time. There is never enough of it to do everything I want to.
Did you have any favourite books or authors when you were younger?
I have lovely memories of my mum reading The Hobbit to me as a bedtime story, so that has always remained a favourite. Roald Dahl stories too. I love Tomi Ungerer’s Sorcerer’s Apprentice. It scared me a bit when I was little but I still love it. Maurice Sendak’s In the night Kitchen has been unforgettable too. I grew up in Switzerland and my dad travelled a lot with his work. When he came home from trips he would always bring the latest Tintin and Asterix & Obelix books with him. He bought them in the airport - there weren’t any English language bookshops handy where we lived. My brother and I loved them - we would fight over who got to read them first. He was older, so he won :)
What do you enjoy most about creating stories for children?
Children are very open-minded and have wonderful imaginations. You can start a story with something entirely ridiculous and they won’t even blink - they will just go all in and enjoy it. A magic cat flap? Great, OK! Let’s go!
Do you have any exciting new projects for the year ahead?

My next book in the Murray and Bun series is already underway. I have written it and I am almost ready to start the illustrations. I can’t wait. It is called Murray the Knight.

Thank you Adam! You can find out more about Adam's books and illustrations on his website:

Author Interview: Adam Stower
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