Dick King-Smith was born and raised in Gloucestershire, surrounded by pet animals. After twenty years as a farmer, he turned to teaching and then to writing children’s books. Dick’s love of animals and farmyard life shines through in his stories. His gentle, accessible stories are ideal for young readers, blending humour and fantasy with useful lessons about life and the world.
Among his best-loved books is Babe, The Sheep Pig, which became a major film and was nominated for an Academy Award.
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Dick has won many awards including The Guardian Fiction Award 1984 for The Sheep Pig, the Children’s Author of The Year 1992 and The Children’s Book Award 1995 for Harriet The Hare.
Interview with Dick King-Smith
Why do you write about animals? Are they easier to write about than other topics?
I write (mainly) about animals because I’ve always kept them, I’m interested in them, I know a bit about them, and I know that children like them. Anyway, it’s such fun putting words into their mouths.
How many different kinds of animals have you had at any one time?
I’ve heard from someone that you belong to different animal groups, i.e. “The Mouse Breeder Association.” Is this true? How many of these associations to you belong to?
Many years ago I was a member of the National Mouse Club. Now I am a member of the Rare Breeds Survival Trust, and indeed a Director of the Kelmscott Rare Breeds Foundation of Lincolnville, Maine, USA.
I understand you were a farmer for many years. Why did you stop farming, and how does your farming experience translate into your writing?
I loved farming and would have remained a farmer for life if only I’d been a better businessman. Of course my 20 years of experience farming is helpful in many of my stories.
How does your teaching experience affect your writing?
I taught kids of 5 to 11 – useful in school stories, as one knows what goes on in a primary school.
What’s your favorite Dick King-Smith book?
Favourite – probably The Sheep Pig.
What is a typical day for you? Can you describe it for us?
A typical day. Sit down in my very small study in my very old (from 1635) cottage; scribble in longhand in the morning; in the afternoon, type out the morning’s work (on an old portable typewriter, with one finger); evening, read day’s work to my wife, seeking her approval.
Briefly describe the way you write a book – from the idea stage to finished product. Are all of the book ideas yours, or do you ask others for advice?
I get the germ of an idea, sit down, and knock something out, hoping it will evolve into a story. I don’t do all the preparatory things writers are meant to do (so sometimes I fall flat on my face). I certainly don’t ask anyone else for advice or for ideas. I don’t try the story out on anyone (except my wife, see above). I seldom revise, knowing that my various – very good – editors will leave it alone if it’s O.K. and will tell me in no uncertain terms if it’s not.