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Jonathan Emmett

As a child

Jonathan Emmett was born in Leicestershire in 1965, the son of a rig-fitter and a primary school teacher. He was fascinated with books from an early age. As a small boy, he reorganised the spare bedroom of his house into a library of his parents’ books. However, instead of ordering the books by subject or author, they were organised by size and colour, which made more sense to him at the time. Jonathon remembers visiting his local library as a toddler and says that the picture books that he borrowed then, including Where the Wild Things Are by Maurice Sendak, The Cat in the Hat by Dr Seuss and Harold and The Purple Crayon by Crockett Johnson, have had a great influence on the picture books that he now writes. The first children’s novelist who made the biggest impression on his childhood, was Roald Dahl.

As an adult

It was while Jonathan was at college studying architecture, that he first began to develop his skills as a writer and illustrator. He says, “I was in a band for a short time – it was a pretty crummy band. We never even played a gig. We just fooled around pretending to rehearse. But, because I was the only one that couldn’t play an instrument, I had to sing (I am using the word ‘sing’ very loosely here) and this meant that I also had to write lyrics. I enjoyed this and kept on writing long after the band had become no more than an embarrassing memory.” As an architect, Jonathan worked on a wide variety of projects including an art gallery, a theatre and an airport check-in building. However he was never very happy in the job and was always saying that he didn’t want to be doing it in ten years time. After a few years in architecture, he switched careers, and he is now a full-time writer and paper-engineer.

As an artist

Three months after leaving a career in architecture, Jonathan signed up with a good literary agent and a couple of months later he sold his first pop-up book Scraposaurus Wrecks. However, although he completed the book, it was never published. This was a big disappointment, but the fact that he had sold the story, and been commissioned to illustrate and paper-engineer it, gave him the confidence to continue working on children’s books and he subsequently succeeded in getting into print. In addition to writing chapter fiction and picture books such as Dinosaurs After Dark and Someone Bigger, Jonathan has also written and paper-engineered a number of pop-up books.

Things you didn't know about Jonathan Emmett

  1. As a child he wanted to be an astronaut or a secret agent.
  2. He was given a prize for growing “the most beautiful sunflower” at primary school.
  3. He once waddled through the town square of Sienna in Italy disguised as ET.
  4. His right foot is longer than his left – which means he can never find a pair of well-fitting shoes.
  5. He is mildly dyslexic, and still doesn’t know his right from his left.
  6. He designs and makes his own furniture.
  7. As an architect, he helped design the most soundproof room in Europe.
  8. He likes to think that he’s far more handsome than he actually is.
  9. He is 100% bio-degradable.
  10. Jonathan lives in Nottingham, with his wife Rachel and his children Max and Laura.

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