David O’Connell is a writer and illustrator living in 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).
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.
For children’s book work I am represented by Jodie Hodges (United Agents).
Or contact me directly.
Please don’t send me your book manuscripts to read. I’m afraid I don’t have time to give you advice on them.
What is your date of birth and are you married?
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.
Where are you from?
I’m from England. I’m also an Irish citizen.
Do you prefer drawing or writing?
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.
Did you go to art school?
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.
What do you like to draw?
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.
What do you like to read?
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.
Where do you get your ideas from?
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.
Give an interesting fact about yourself.
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.
Are you rich?