"I try to find an idea that’s important to me that I can make into a lesson for the character."
The Imagination Thief author, David Oates, on his sweet tooth, his love of board games and the stepdaughter who inspired this first book in the Eva and Toby Adventures series.
Had you always wanted to write a book?
Yes! I was heavily into comics and books when I was younger, and I used to write my own stories and create superheroes all the time.
Where did the inspiration for the Eva and Toby Adventures series come from?
My stepdaughter (who could be an amazing author herself one day) came up with the idea about adults losing their imagination when they get older because someone steals it. We developed the idea and the character from there.
Can you tell us what it’s about?
The story centres on Toby and Eva as they chase Eva’s imaginary friend Wonder Unicorn through a magic portal after the Imagination Thief kidnaps her. They encounter new friends, and have to work together and mend their relationship as they attempt to save the whole world from the evil villain!
What drives the main character?
Eva has an active imagination and is desperate for fun and adventures. She also wants to rescue her friends and be the hero.
Which age group is it aimed at, and why should people of this age (or their parents/guardians) buy it?
Ages 7-9 by would be ideal, including children who are a bit reluctant to read. It’s fast-paced to gain interest quickly.
When can we expect the next book in the series?
This year, I hope. The next one is planned and I’ve drafted a few chapters. The part that takes the longest is the illustrations.
Can you briefly describe your writing (and illustrating) process?
I like to plan on a big bit of paper and make many connections. I draw as well as write, designing the characters and settings. I like to have a nice message in my writing, so I try to find an idea that’s important to me that I can make into a lesson for the character.
What’s your favourite writing snack?
Maltesers or Starburst.
How do you spend your time when you’re not writing?
I’m a teacher, so I work with youngsters in school. I like to draw and am a massive board game fan. We have a huge cupboard full of games.
What advice would you give other aspiring authors?
Read lots of books: fiction, non-fiction, dictionaries, newspapers, magazines, comics and poetry. I love Terry Pratchett's books, which have shaped me as an author, a teacher and a person.