We took some time to catch up with Jarvis, Author and Illustrator of ‘Alan’s Big Scary Teeth’ – a beautifully illustrated, heart-warming tale with a twist and a good moral at it’s core (published by Walker Books and available from 6th February 2016). Although writing and illustrating is his full time job, Jarvis hopes one day that Coldplay will need him to play guitar for them. Whilst waiting for the call, he’s been busy making books for kids and answering some very important questions…
So first of all – what made you decide to be a Jarvis, rather than a Peter, and do most folks refer to you as Jarvis now?
I like Jarvis. Some people call me Jarvis, some call me Pete, my girlfriend calls me PJ… and some people call me much worse.
What made you become an illustrator?
When I was 15 I got it in my head I would do art, go to university, move to London and then I would make album covers for bands. Then the real dream was that a huge band would invite me to join them. 90% of this happened… but I’m not yet a member of Coldplay. Still time…
Which of your own books did you enjoy working on the most and how do you come up with your ideas?
The part I enjoy the most is that first scribble of an idea, the squiggle of who a character is. Everything else from that point isn’t enjoyable, it resembles more of a maze – trying out different routes, going back, starting again, trying something else, finding a dead end… until I finally make it out alive. But there are enjoyable bits along the way – if I do an image I love, I just stare at it for ages, or if I tie up the ending of a story really well I can relaaaax.
A few days before handing in my up-coming book ‘Alan’s Big Scary Teeth’ [Walker Books] my studio was burgled and everything was taken – my computer, back-ups, scanner, lightbox, everything! I didn’t have it backed up online so I had lost the entire book. It all seems like a bad dream now but I had to re-do the entire book from scratch. So I can’t say I enjoyed that but I’m impressed that I was able to just re-do it and in many parts it was better. The irony is that the plot of the book is about stealing!
Desert Island Discs…What are your 8 records (you may well be on there one day) And you can choose one luxury to take with you – what would that be?
I would take 8 Beatles albums, and then my luxury item would be a phone with spotify on it.
What’s your ideal holiday?
I like to do very little, with great food and just Jenna.
Do you play a musical instrument?
I play the guitar badly, you can hear me on the ‘Lazy Dave’ trailer.
What was the last book you read?
I only end up reading on holidays unfortunately – ‘There but for the’, by Ali Smith and ‘Daft wee stories’, by Limmy
What was your favourite book as a little boy?
I used to be obsessed with the Beano comic. I have read the same ‘Bash street kids’ comics 100 times.
Where did you grow up?
I grew up in a seaside town in Wales… my mum and dad used to go there on holiday as children, and then when I was born they moved there.
And, as it’s December –
What was your most memorable Christmas as a little boy?
Me and my sister used to get up extremely early, go down stairs, and really quietly open the living room door and just sit with our presents. One year we came downstairs, and were about to open the door when we heard a bit of moving about. We were convinced Father Christmas was still in there. We waited and waited until we were bored of waiting… opened the door expecting Father Christmas……… It was a new pet hamster.
Jarvis has also just illustrated a book for Jeanne Willis called ‘Poles Apart’ [Nosy Crow] which is available now from all good book stores.