Ron Brooks spent his childhood in Mallacoota, Victoria. Now he writes, designs and illustrates picture books for kids. He has made many books over the thirty or so years he has been working, has won many awards, including the Children's Book Council of Australia Picture Book of the Year Award (three times) and is published in many languages around the world.
Two of his earlier books, The Bunyip of Berkeley's Creek and John Brown, Rose and the Midnight Cat, both written by Jenny Wagner, are widely recognized as the books which introduced Australian picture books onto the world scene. Two of his more recent books, and perhaps his own personal favourites, are Old Pig and Fox, both written by Margaret Wild. He has also been a teacher, and he paints, sculpts, does a bit of printmaking.
Why I make books
'I mostly illustrate other people's stories, and I just love it when an author has written something so beautifully, so powerfully, that it stills my heart somehow…I feel so lucky, so privileged really, then to have the opportunity of taking that text and trying to make a book, trying to find and make the pictures which in some way will then add to that stillness…or maybe give it a small, but useful little nudge... give it more room. The whole process is tantalisingly difficult, but it does feel good to get close.'
How do I do it
'With great difficulty, mostly! I take ages, and drive everyone crazy. My family, my publishers, the authors, and myself more than anyone! It can sometimes be sheer agony. I have a genuine talent when it comes to finding distractions…anything to avoid that confrontation with the desk and the blank paper.
I can spend too much time in the garden, which I love, or fiddling about in the cottage (an old picker's hut halfway down the hill) which I always wanted, but which the kids have taken over, or in Henry's Hut (next to the cottage), setting it up as a cubby/workshed with him…and probably far too much time reading and listening to music in the studio (halfway up the hill).
But the words are always kind of moving about in my head…until some piece of music, or something I read, hear, remember, or see in the landscape will just, rather mysteriously, trigger it off. And then, almost before I know it I'm beavering away at my desk. And, like a kid in a sandpit, hauling all sorts of stuff around, I'm absolutely loving it!'