Colin Thompson became an author almost by accident. The only thing he was good at in school was art. In his late 40s, he went to a publisher to try and get some work illustrating children's books. To his surprise he was asked to write a story, which was eventually rejected. Not to be deterred, he sat down and wrote Ethel the Chicken in one-and-a-half days. Ten days later he had a publisher, Hodder and Stoughton, who produced it as a small hardback. More than 20 years later, Thompson has produced 34 books (10 of which he illustrated himself) and he has another six under contract at different stages. The list includes poetry, short stories, one serious adult novel called Laughing for Beginners and some picture books illustrated by others. Awards Thompson has received include the Primary English Picture Book of the Year, which he has won not once, but twice; once for Ruby and again for Falling Angels, which also won him the Ibby Award. His books all have interesting titles that give a clue to what the story is about. These include Attila the Bluebottle and The Haunted Suitcase. Thompson's favourite books include his own picture book How to Live Forever, and Joyce Cary's The Horse's Mouth. He is also a fan of Alan Bennett, Ivor Cutler and John Updike. Reading is a vital element of life, according to Thompson. He writes: 'You can live in the most remote place on Earth and never see another living soul, but if you have books you can discover the whole world.' He also believes that books can be read by anybody. He says on his web site: 'I have always believed in the magic of childhood and think that if you get your life right, that magic should never end.' He goes on to say that if a children's book cannot be enjoyed properly by adults, then there is something wrong with either the book or the adult reading it. Colin Thompson was born in Ealing, London, as Colin Willment in 1942. His surname changed to Thompson when he was 11 years old, when his mother remarried. He attended a number of schools before entering art school. His early career saw him in several jobs, including documentary filmmaking. He has lived in Majorca, Scotland and Cumbria, northern England. He worked on environmental projects and artistic ventures, including pottery. Thompson visits schools whenever he gets a chance. He visited a school in Sydney in 1995, fell in love with the country and decided to make it his new home. He writes wherever he can, but usually in his office, which is in his garden. He has little patience with people who ask him how he manages to be creative. He believes that the question, 'Where do you get your ideas from?' is the most infuriating question an author can be asked.