Book People: Richard Roxburgh
I am going to attempt to remain professional throughout this post, but I must just say that my love of Richard Roxburgh runs deep. I rarely become enamoured with actors, all my crushes tend to be of the literary kind, Matt Ottley being my most public example (thanks to Danny Parker and Tony Flowers ‘outing’ me to Matt last year at Story Arts Festival…oh the shame). But there is something about Mr Roxburgh that I have always found fascinating; probably a combination of his rugged, boyish charm and acting brilliance. Now that I discover he has an English Literature degree and has been a closest writer and illustrator, of children’s fiction, my adoration of him has increased ten-fold. If I were 16 years old again, my room would be plastered with posters of him. Sadly, I am 40…so I shall just have to watch ‘Rake’ over and over and gift friends the ‘Rake’ cards I purchased in vast quantities last year. As a side note, I saw his wife, Silvia Colloca, in Snow White recently, at the QUT Roundhouse Theatre, presented by La Boite, Opera Queensland and Brisbane Festival. Her performance was memorizing and her talent immense, plus she an amazing Italian cook/celebrity chef, so they really are an all together impressive couple!
To add ‘Artie and the Grime Wave’ to your school, home, library or Richard Roxburgh colleciton, click on title links or cover image.
Richard Roxburgh’s first book is ‘Artie and Grime Wave’, and when it arrived in my letterbox I have to admit that I clutched it lovingly and prayed to the Book Gods that it would meet my literary quality control standards and do him proud. And then Pud stole it from me and I found her, several hours later, chuckling her way through Artie and telling her sister fart jokes. Fans of Walliams, Ahn Do and the Griffith/Denton duo will delight over every detail in ‘Artie and the Grime Wave‘ and I am pleased to report that Roxburgh’s wry wit and sharp (possibly absurd?) mind is evident in every sentence and every deliciously gross illustration.
Artie and his best friend Bumshoe have stumbled upon a Cave-of-Possibly-Stolen-Stuff, and along with it a gang of shady characters including scary Mary, fang-toothed Funnel-web and the devious Mayor Grime. Artie and Bumshoe’s attempt to solve the mystery sparks a chaotic chain of events that involves kidnapping, puppy-dog cutlets, modern art and pioneering the sport of the bungee- wedgie. It’s a sticky situation and if Artie’s going to he might need help from family, friends, a little old lady, a small dog and the Fartex 120Y.
Last week, I emailed the lovely Jessica from Allen and Unwin to say how much I enjoyed ‘Artie and the Grime Wave’ and when she suggested that Richard may have time to answer some questions for me, I could not reply fast enough. I so enjoyed reading his answers and finding out a little more about his writing. The fab Allison Tait has also done an interview with him for episode 130 of ‘So You Want to be a Writer’ which you can download here and BookBoy has reviewed Artie here.
I read recently that you wrote ‘Artie and the Grime Wave’ after being inspired by bedtime stories with your sons. Does the book contain stories you have told with your sons?
No, I didn’t really tell the story of Artie as a bedtime story, although I did used to tell my boys about my actual Aunty, who was pretty nutty, and upon whom the character of Aunty-boy is based.
Are your sons absolutely stoked with your debut in the children’s literature world and are they hoping you may be the next Andy Griffiths or David Walliams?
Ha! Well, they’re certainly excited about the fact that I’ve written a book, and that’s more than enough for the moment!
This is your first book (and I am so pleased you started in the world of children’s literature!), how did you find the process?
I was surprised at how much I loved the process. There were certainly dull days where I felt I was merely treading water. But for the most part, I really enjoyed the liberty of it. As an actor I suppose I’ve spent so much time sitting inside other peoples’ stories, it was a thrill to have the opportunity to take my own wherever it wanted to go.
What does a typical day look like for you?
It depends on what I’m working on. My writing days were vastly different to a day rehearsing theatre or filming television (which in turn differ quite a lot from each other).
While I was writing, my day would begin with my family, and getting the boys off to school. Then there would be a fair degree of procrastination, emails, faffing about the house, and sometimes going to the gym.
Then I’d begin work in earnest, most productively at the library, where I could do very good, productive work for a few hours with my noise-cancelling headphones. Then home. I found a few solid hours of writing a day was optimal.
Can you describe your writing/drawing workspace for us?
I tended to write best at a library, with headphones, and where there was nothing I could find excuses to fix.
While I was drawing, though, I enjoyed sitting at our dining table at home and listening to music.
Any words of advice for young readers and writers?
It may sound simple, but just write. Even if you think it’s rubbish, you just keep writing. Then slowly over time something begins to take shape, and the work develops its own momentum.
Do you have a favourite children’s book character?
Huckleberry Finn, the BFG.
What was your favourite food to eat and/or your favourite music to listen to whilst you were working on ‘Artie and the Grime Wave’?
Well, I’m quite lucky because my wife is a really excellent Italian cook, and we often get to recipe test, so I pretty much ate like a king, or maybe an Italian Emperor, while writing.
I listen to a very eclectic mixture of music while drawing. Everything from Louis Armstrong to Bon Iver to Palestrina…
Having now used your English Literature degree, can we expect more children’s books from you in the future?
I’m already underway with my second book, and can’t wait to have a clear schedule to work away at it!
If you could have one wish for the world what would it be?