Don't write stories with messages
"If you set out to write a story with a message, forget it, it’s a killer," says Gavin Bishop. When creating his award-winning books for children, Gavin Bishop does so without any overriding sense of responsibility to the children or adults who will read them:
"You wouldn’t write anything if you did. You’ve got to set out to write something that you feel excited about, that you want to share with other people, you’ve got something you want to say. A real story to tell. But I think that if you set out with a sense of responsibility to improve the world, to produce something of great moment, you’re going to fail."
"You’ve got to set out and think ‘I’m going to write the very best story I’ve ever written, with my very best pictures. And I feel really excited about it.’ And it’s with you all the time. You can’t get rid of it. You dream of it, it’s the first thing you think of when you wake up."
Children's books shouldn't seek to improve their readers
"Let the message creep in naturally. It’ll be there. But if you set out to write a book about helping Mum to stop smoking, or trying to get Dad to eat more salads – forget it, it’s boring. Boring before you even start. Forget about it. It’s just a big yawn."
Recorded at the New Zealand Festival’s Writers and Readers Week in March 2014, in association with the New Zealand Society of Authors.