Please don’t send me your book manuscripts to read. I’m afraid I don’t have time to give you advice on them.
I am available for book events – a media kit is available on request.
For children’s book work I am represented by Jodie Hodges (United Agents).
Simon & Schuster
Wren & Rook (Hachette)
Farshore, formerly Egmont (HarperCollins)
Stripes Children’s Books (Little Tiger)
HarperCollins Children’s Books
David Fickling Books
OUP Children’s Books
Discover Children’s Story Centre
The Story Museum
Jessica Kingsley Publishing (Hachette)
Curtis Brown Creative
The Smidgens Books 1-3 (2021-2023, Bloomsbury): writer, illustrated by Seb Burnett
Grandpa Frank’s Great Big Bucket List (2021, Usborne): illustrator, written by Jenny Pearson
Breaking News: How To Tell What’s Real From What’s Rubbish (2021 Simon & Schuster): illustrator, written by Nick Sheridan
Brain Power (2022, Wren & Rook): illustrator, written by Dr Ranj Singh
How to Grow Up (And Feel Amazing) (2021, Wren & Rook): illustrator, written by Dr Ranj Singh
The Naughtiest Unicorn Books 1-13 (2019-2023, Egmont): illustrator, written by Pip Bird
The Dundoodle Mysteries Books 1-3 (2018-2020, Bloomsbury): writer, illustrated by Claire Powell
Boyband of the Apocalypse Books 1-2 (2017-2018, Stripes): illustrator, written by Tom Nicolls
When I’m a Mummy Like You! (2017, HarperCollins): writer, illustrated by Francesca Gambatesa
When I’m a Monster Like You, Dad! (2016, HarperCollins): writer, illustrated by Francesca Gambatesa
Creature Teacher Books 1-4 (2015-2016, OUP): illustrator, written by Sam Watkins
Jampires (2014, DFB): co-writer/illustrator with Sarah McIntyre
Monster & Chips Books 1-3 (2013-2014, HarperCollins): writer & illustrator
Next book out in:
David O’Connell is a writer and illustrator living in Brighton on the south coast of England. He works mostly in children’s books, particularly humorous picture books and young fiction. His best known books are The Naughtiest Unicorn series, The Sunday Times best-selling How to Grow Up and Feel Amazing (both as illustrator) and The Chocolate Factory Ghost (as writer).
Although he wrote and drew his own stories from a young age, he studied science at A-level, then gained a degree in Biochemistry from the University of Bristol. After a period of work, he returned to academic life, working towards a PhD in Clinical Biochemistry from the University of Cambridge. This was followed by a managerial role in the IT department of the John Lewis Partnership.
His desire to write and draw professionally stayed with him, and to that end he signed with United Agents in 2008, thanks to the recommendation of his friend Sarah McIntyre with whom he collaborated on the picture book, Jampires. They also worked together on a Picture Book Writing & Illustrating course, available from Curtis Brown Creative.
His first published book was Monster & Chips, the start of a series of funny (and revolting) adventures of ‘hooman’ Joe Shoe whilst working at the Monster Diner of friendly monster Fuzzby Bixington.
He has since illustrated a number of fiction and non-fiction book series for a variety of publishers, as well as writing his own children’s fiction books and picture books. You can find a complete list of his books under the My Books menu.
Frequently Asked Questions
Please don’t ask me this. This is personal information which I don’t like giving out to strangers. Your book presentation will be fine without it.
I am from England, and live near the sea in the town of Brighton. I’m also an Irish citizen.
I love drawing but I find it hard and get frustrated easily. I think I enjoy writing more because it comes more easily to me and I enjoy the feeling of being productive. I can spend all day on a picture and often want to throw it in the bin and start again, but if I write all day I know that I’ll have something useful at the end of it.
No. I’m a self-taught artist, which probably explains my frustrations. I’ve always drawn but had other jobs before I decided to take the plunge and become an illustrator. All the different experiences have fed into my work.
Silly things: daft monsters who are not as scary as they think they are; old ladies with mad, multi-coloured hairstyles; animals with sophisticated taste in neckties; superheroes with biceps bigger than their heads; aliens with more tentacles than is sensible and dinosaurs who like a nice cup of tea and a sit down.
Sometimes ideas just happen. There’s no explanation for it. They usually happen just when I’m about to drift off to sleep so I keep a notebook by my beside just in case.
Every now and again I’ll sit down and have an ideas-making session. I’ll look at pictures in books and online and try and make stories from what I see, or think about what might happen next in the picture. The first idea I think of is usually obvious so I discard it and try and think of something different, or turn it on its head to make something really strange.
It’s not enough to have ideas – you have to work on those ideas to make them really good.
When I was younger I read a lot of books written by Enid Blyton. My favourites were The Wishing Chair and The Magic Faraway Tree books. I read a lot of comics too: The Beano and superhero comics like Superman.
As a teenager I was into the mythological world of JRR Tolkien but also read a lot of classics: Dickens, Austen, Henry James. I loved Wilkie Collins’ two most famous books The Woman in White and The Moonstone. I had a load of Terry Pratchett books too, and was a big fan of Philip Pullman’s His Dark Materials series.
These days I read a lot of books as research for work and don’t get to read much for pleasure. I still read lots of comics, mostly those made by friends now. My favourite book is A Suitable Boy by Vikram Seth.
I have a wonky right eye. It has a bit of a life of its own. Sometimes it looks like I’m not looking at you… but I assure you I am.
Another fact for free: I am a Doctor. Not a medical doctor, but the mad science kind. I call myself Dr O’Connell when I want to feel important.