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Eric Hill

Eric Hill

Eric Hill was born in North London and, apart from a brief period of evacuation, lived there for many years. His career as an artist began when he worked as a messenger in an art studio and was encouraged to draw. When Eric's son was born in 1976, Eric began to write stories about a puppy to read to him at bedtime, and so Spot was born. The family moved to California in 1983. Eric continues to visit the UK several times a year and is very involved in the development of new Spot projects.

PLACE AND DATE OF BIRTH:
London; 7 September 1927

FAVOURITE BOOK:
Dirk Bogarde's autobiographies

MOST TREASURED POSSESSION:
My sense of fun

FAVOURITE SONG:
Cole Porter's 'Let's do it (let's fall in love)'

FAVOURITE FILM:
Day of the Jackal

When did you start writing?
In 1978, when my son was two years old, I started my first book for children. Where's Spot? was published in 1980 and became the catalyst for my new career as an author. I don't really consider myself a 'proper' author as I am basically an illustrator who adds words to his pictures as a 'voice-over', although in later books I have expanded my writing a little more.

I still have to look up words in the dictionary!

Where do you get your ideas?
From my experience as a father and memories from my childhood. Most of the Spot books contain some elements that actually happened i.e. Spot pulling down the Christmas tree in Spot's First Christmas actually happened when our golden retriever pup, Tiger, destroyed our decorated tree whilst we were out.

Can you give your top three tips to becoming a successful author?
1. Write about what you know or like best. (With me, it was obviously dogs!)
2. Be honest. Write what you really feel, not what you think others would like to read.
3. Confine your thoughts to a particular subject and/or age group if writing for children.

Favourite memory?
Christmas morning at home with my parents. Feeling the filled pillowcase at the foot of my bed.

Favourite place in the world and why?
Wherever my family is. For me, my family (and animals) are my world.

What are your hobbies?
Collecting toy cars and boats. Gardening in fine weather. Reading everything.

If you hadn't been a writer, what do you think you would have been?
I first wanted to be a pilot but I wasn't bright enough. But now, I really don't want to be anything other than what I am.

WHAT HE SAYS...

"I am quite convinced now, as I look back, that the actual training of drawing cartoons - which is, of course, my style - led to my producing Spot. Cartoons must be very simple and have as few words as possible and so must the Spot books. I designed Spot out of my previous background as a designer and illustrator. It was quite unconscious but I can see now that I have created a ready-made trademark of its kind, with the essential spot on the body and a bit on the tail."

“It must have been subconscious but I realized that when I came to draw the spot on his body and the tip of his tail I was copying the markings on an aircraft. I grew up drawing aircraft – that is how I learned to draw.”

“I have always been a ‘dog man’ so it was quite natural for me to create a canine character who would be as playful and endearing as the real thing.”

“I believe it’s the sense of fun that makes the book so popular. When he shows excitement on Christmas Day and cries “Yippee”, that’s me in there. I love the character, he’s my buddy and I’m at ease with him. Subconsciously I see things from the dog’s point of view, so Spot is within me.”

“Part of the success of Spot is the play element – a hippo and a pink piano, for instance – I want to keep the idea that reading, that sharing a book, can be fun.”

“I believe children all have a basic creativity that needs to be encouraged and nurtured and the Spot books seem to provide that encouragement.”

“In Where’s Spot? I thought it would be fun to draw a chair – in a period style rather than a straightforward type. A grand piano instead of an upright – pink rather than brown. Table with cabriole legs and other decorative details. All to broaden the visual scope that a book can bring to a young mind.”

“There is so much to be learned and enjoyed from reading and it is all out there just waiting for you. Think of opening a book as opening your mind.”

“I cannot think of a better use of my talent than being creator of Spot.”

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