In celebration of the 2017 winner of the Klaus Flugge prize, we thought we’d catch up with last year’s winner, Nicholas John Frith to explore what the past year has been like for him and what his hopes are for the future. Enjoy…
What did winning the Klaus Flugge Prize mean to you?
Well, it was both strange and overwhelming at first, and at the time felt like a sort of validation of what I was doing. I hadn’t realised the stature of Klaus in ‘the business’ until that awards evening too, so that added something to it.
Now it feels like a nice step on the road forwards…
The judges were particularly taken with your characters, Hector and Hummingbird, and the relationship between them. Thinking about Hello Mr Dodo and the forthcoming A Werewolf Named Oliver James, do your books begin with the characters?
No, not really. They usually start with a fleeting idea of a story, and the characters are just one element of that, be it an important element that becomes the main conduit of the tale. But I do often have a strong sense of the character from the outset.
As winner, you then went on to judge the 2017 prize. Could you tell us about the books on the shortlist, and what impressed you about them?
Yes, judging this year’s prize was one of the best things about winning the prize last year. It was a wonderful honour, especially to judge alongside such well-regarded people (judges also included Axel Scheffler, Sunday Times children’s books editor Nicolette Jones and Tamara Macfarlane of Tales on Moon Lane bookshop).
Well, the list was quite a mixture, in style and content, which I thought was great. I was surprised by what grabbed me personally, and oddly was taken by the soft surreal of Bomi Park’s book First Snow, as well as the nicely done naivety of Little Red… those eyes!… and the beauty and sadness of The Journey.
You also produce illustrations for cards and other items. What is most satisfying about creating picture books for children?
That I am adding to the big history of printed storytelling and that these stories and pictures may become experiences and memories for not only children but adults, too. Oh, and holding a finished bonafide published hardback copy of a book with your name on it is… well, pretty awesome.
Congratulations to Francesca Sanna, winner of the 2017 Klaus Flugge Prize for The Journey.