Let me preface with this; everyone on this planet is a writer, telling their story through the life they live. Maybe you’re telling your story with music, art, work, religion, sport, family or whatever… I don’t know. What I do know is I’m no different. I’m just telling some stories here. So for me to be all like oh, look at me I’m a writer is weird to me because I reckon everyone is.
That being said, I write and illustrate children’s stories. Someone once asked me, why children’s stories? I replied with… I don’t know.
Maybe it’s because I like how short they are and that even the simplest creature on the planet could write one if they truly wanted to. Or maybe it’s because I like how much they can get away with distorting the fabric of reality and crossing the bounds of physics whilst still seeming plausible.
I think the main reason is just because I love seeing kids smile. Yes. That’s the reason. Making kids smile is my business and I have found that there is no better way to turn a frown upside down than to be lost inside a book. But it can’t be any ordinary book. It HAS to be weird.
When I was a kid, my favourite books were written by the legendary Roald Dahl. I have such fond memories of diving into the weird, made-up worlds of George’s Marvellous Medicine, The BFG, The Twits and The Witches. And so what if these stories weren’t “real”. They were real enough to me. And they made me smile.
At school, I never liked reading because it was more of something you HAD to do, not something you did for the pure joy. Now though, I read as much as I can and love stretching my wings into every genre imaginable, searching for weirdness in unexpected places.
I have read romance novels, dark fantasy adventures, westerns, true crime stories, biographies, thrillers, mysteries, you name it. And it is true… weirdness isn’t just confined to the realms of children’s literature. But I always come back to children’s books because that’s where I first started.
When I am putting a story together, I believe it’s my job to make it as weird as I possibly can. My hope and prayer is that one day, one kid, somewhere, will pick up one of my books and dive into it just like I did with Roald Dahl books, let out a smile and think to him or herself “Man, that Rob Towner is one weird guy”.
Rob is a Role Model for Books In Homes Australia, a member of the Society of Children’s Books Authors and Illustrators, a member of the Hunter Writers Centre and the Secretary for Newcastle Sub-branch CBCA.