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Picture Book Club #18 Tom McLaughlin

Picture Book Club had a month off in July (to visit Newfoundland!) and then returned this month with an ‘on tour’ visit to Exeter. Our previous Exeter guest, Clare Helen Welsh, had recommended Tom McLaughlin so negotiations were duly opened last year and we were delighted to welcome Tom on Thursday 9th August to Waterstones Exeter.

Tom is a successful author-illustrator and it was great to hear a bit about his background and career. My favourite story of Tom’s is The Story Machine so I was intrigued to hear that this was kind of his autobiography! How many of us could pull that off in 250 words?!

It’s always interesting to hear about different journeys to a successful picture book career. Tom didn’t start off in advertising! Instead he worked as a political cartoonist before turning his talented hand to picture books. Something of his political background comes through in the fact that his latest release Along Came a Different is dedicated to Donald. The book is about embracing and accepting difference and, yes, he does mean that Donald.

It turns out that Exeter and the South West are a hot-bed of illustrating talent and the audience on Thursday reflected that. But we were all pleased to hear that Tom thought that picture books is the hardest thing to write because you agonise over every word, every syllable, every beat. No arguments there!

Due to the wonders of technology (and despite my technical incompetence!) you can view Tom’s full Picture Book Club interview on our facebook page here.