International Women’s Day 2022 – Interview with Liz Pichon
To celebrate International Women’s Day, Tom Gates HQ interviewed Liz Pichon, the BRILLIANT creator of the Tom Gates books and TV series. Read on to hear all about Liz’s childhood dreams, preferred celebrity dinner guests and journey to multi-million-copy-bestselling success!
Tom Gates HQ: International Women’s Day is a global day of recognition and celebration of women's and girls' achievements. What are you most proud of in your life and career?
Liz: I never thought about writing or illustrating books for a living, it was something that other people did. So getting a book published was a BIG achievement for me. I wrote a picture book in my late 30’s that won a prize and that gave me the confidence to keep going. It took me a few years to write the first Tom Gates book, but I can still remember how exciting it was to see in a bookshop. Spotting a child reading it on a beach was a HUGE highlight as well.
Ten years later and with 20 Tom Gates books published, I still get just as excited to see a book in the WILD. I will never ever take that for granted.
Tom Gates HQ: What did you dream of doing when you were a child? Did you picture a life similar to the one you have built, bursting with creativity and Tom Gates fun?
Liz: When I do events and children ask me what it’s like to be an author and creator, I always say - apart from the deadlines - I have the BEST job in the whole world. And I do.
When I was at school, I was often made to feel that being creative and good at drawing wasn’t very important as art wasn’t a ‘proper’ subject. I think you need creativity in all areas of work. So making a living from doing the things I love and creating a character and world that has sold millions of books, been the subject of two TV series’, and is now appearing on many different types of products, has been amazing. It has also kept my publishers, agents, bookshops, printers, TV production company, theatres, licensing partners and lots of other people, very happy - including children in 45 different countries where the books are now published. I’ve got my dream job for sure.
Tom Gates HQ: Which woman inspires you the most in the world?
Liz: Someone who comes to mind is Judith Kerr. She died in 2019, aged 95, and even then, she was still writing and drawing beautiful books. I used to see her at events looking elegant in pearls and bright colours, and always smiling and chatting while holding a glass of fizz. Creating so many books that have touched people's lives makes her very inspiring to me.
Tom Gates HQ: What is the most important piece of advice you have been given?
Liz: My husband Mark (who always reads my books first) told me: ‘Be yourself and trust your instincts’.
Tom Gates HQ: What is the most important message you want to send out to women thinking about pursuing careers in writing or illustration?
Liz: I know so many authors and illustrators (like me) who’ve had work rejected.
But if you have a great story, find a way to tell it. Be persistent. Don’t give up, even if it takes a while.
Tom Gates HQ: If you could have dinner with three inspirational women, dead or alive, who would they be and why?
Liz: Caitlin Moran, who would make me laugh and keep the conversation going. Richmal Crompton (she wrote all the Just William books). Everyone always thinks it was a MAN who wrote them, so I could identify with that! Oprah Winfrey, just because she would be the most inspirational woman to meet. Caitlin could ask all the questions and I’d sit back and listen.
Author: Tom Gates HQ
Date: March 2022