12 Curly Questions with author/illustrator duo Candy James

1. Tell us something hardly anyone knows about you.
We are actually two people: Candy (illustrator) and James (writer). We’re a wife-and-husband creative duo who’ve been making things together since the year 2000, the distant future.

2. What is your nickname?
Candy’s probably going to say we’re not social enough to earn nicknames, but don’t believe her, that’s a lie! We do so have nicknames. They are … umm … Super Candy and … er … Super James. Yeah, that’ll fool them. Wait, did I type that out loud? Next question!

3. What is your greatest fear?
Boredom. We do everything we can to scare it away.

4. Describe your creative style in 10 words.
Co-operative, evolving, bold, playful, funny, sweet, sarcastic, cute, cuddly, different.

5. Tell us five positive words that describe you as a creator.
We always make things together.

6. What book character would you be, and why?
This was surprisingly tricky because we soon realised there’s a big difference between enjoying a book character and actually living their life. But Tove Jansson’s Moomin seems to live a pretty neat life. He lives in a beautiful valley with a bunch of eccentrics, enjoying the simple things in life (like berries and pancakes), while still finding time to head off on the occasional adventure. We think we could live with that.

7. If you could time travel, what year would you go to and why?
We’d go to Los Angeles in the 1960s so that Candy could go undercover at Disney and James go undercover at Warner Bros. We’d be the ultimate animation spies, learning from the masters and coming back with a swag of new skills and funny ideas.

8. What would your 10-year-old self say to you now?
This could get deep and meaningful, but as shy 10-year-olds, we’d probably just be excited to find some silly adults we could draw with! Most likely, we’d be asking our adult selves to draw different things.

9. Who is your greatest influence?
When we are creating graphic stories, we rely on an awful lot of influences from different stages of our lives. It’s an eclectic mix of Japanese manga (things like Ranma ½, Yotsuba, Dragonball, and Dr. Slump), older British TV comedies, Warner Bros cartoons, Simpsons, and animated movies by Disney, Pixar, and Dreamworks. Oh, and we mustn’t forget an assortment of Nintendo games, pop-culture, movies by Steven Spielberg and Wes Anderson, and works by AA Milne and Tove Jansson.

10. What/who made you start creating?
Candy always wanted to draw Mickey Mouse and James always wanted to be Disney. So, we inspired each other and became each other’s biggest fans.

11. What is your favourite word and why?
‘Done it!’
We know it’s actually two words, but you say it like one – ‘Dunnit!’ – and it’s such a lovely word to say after you’ve completed something. ‘Wotado?’ is another great one. You say it with your lips puckered out and it can’t help but get a positive response when you find yourself wondering what to do.

12. If you could only read one book for the rest of your life, what would it be?
AA Milne’s The House at Pooh Corner. This was one of the first books James read out loud to Candy (when we were both about 20 years old). Already a firm favourite of James’, this reading opened up a whole new world of magic in Candy’s mind – books could actually make you laugh! She’s since spent the last 18 years wondering what it must be like bouncing around inside Kanga’s pouch. 

Candy James is a husband-and-wife creative duo originally from Hong Kong and New Zealand, but now living on a thickly forested hill in Ballarat, Australia. They are toy, graphic and garden designers who love to make funny books for kids. Archie & Reddie: Look What We Can Do is out now, along with other titles in the Archie & Reddie series. For more information, see www.candyjames.com.

February 15, 2022 at 11:31AM Penny Harrison