Author Interview: Oliver Jeffers

November 19, 2012

By Gabrielle.

I’m going to tell you the truth. When Oliver Jeffers sent me his answers to my interview questions, I couldn’t help but feel disappointed. I wished I had asked ten or even 20 more questions, because I wanted more of his words! There just weren’t enough! And then I recognized that I was feeling the same way I always feel when I finish one of Oliver’s books. Petulant, almost, like a child who wants just one more page, please! But isn’t it lovely when an author brings back the kid in you? I agree. Friends, I am pleased to share Oliver Jeffers with you today. Enjoy him!

Q: What’s your favorite memory from childhood? Are there any lessons your parents taught you that still stick in your head?

A: There are many memories, from staying out too late playing football on the street to day trips to the beach with my mum, dad and brothers. There are many lessons too, from ‘never sit with your back to the door’ to ‘never let the truth get in the way of a good story.’

Q: Describe the moment you realized you were an artist. How much later was it when the rest of the world realized it, too?

A: I think I’ve always known, and deep down held a strong dislike for other types of work. The world recognized it when I sold my first painting when I was 18.

Q: What’s your view while you work?

A: I have a nice studio, lots of furniture I found on the street including drawers and cabinets where I label everything. I have three windows all overlooking a street in Brooklyn.

Q: Who illustrates your daydreams?

A: I do.

Q: If you could live in any book you’ve made, which would it be and why?

A: One of the underground houses in The Great Paper Caper where I’d play cards and drink tea with my neighbors.

Q: What was the first book that broke your heart or changed you in some way?

A: The BFG by Roald Dahl. In this book I realized that imagination is the most powerful force on earth.

Q: After growing up in Ireland, what was your first impression of the U.S.?

A: That it all seemed vaguely familiar. I’d been raised on a partial diet of American television.

Q: What is your favorite item in your shop, You And Me The Royal We, right now and what are you hoping to add to the shop soon? My favorite, as I have a deep-rooted love for maps and you draw some of the best, is the Places on Earth Map. “But it isn’t to scale, because that would be very hard to ship.” Ha!

A: Favorite item is the All Occasion Cards — they come in handy. We are hoping to add actual 4D glasses. They were sent to be prototyped, but no one has seen or heard from the guy since! Maybe that means they work.

Q: Best advice you’ve ever given or received:

A: Always, wait, no…NEVER…hang on…what was the question again?

Q: Please finish the sentence: I can’t believe I…

A: …have a direct line to Batman. I should probably take advantage of that sometime.


Thank you, Oliver, for your words. Even though there are never enough of them for my liking, you always make me smile. Which, I’m sure, is the greatest compliment you can give to an author, isn’t it? Friends, be sure to look for Oliver’s newest book, This Moose Belongs to Me. It’s wonderful. And. If you’re lucky enough to be in New York any time from December first through the end of February, you can catch Oliver’s exhibit at the Brooklyn Museum. Congratulations, Oliver! Such an honor!

P.S. — You can find the entire Author Interview series here. And if you have any suggestions for authors you’d love to see on Design Mom, drop me a line. You always have the best ideas!

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The Illustrator
November 26, 2013 at 8:02 am

{ 14 comments… read them below or add one }

1 Craig November 19, 2012 at 10:28 am

The Heart and the Bottle is the quintessential Oliver Jeffers book. I can’t endorse it enough. This future classic routinely brings my wife to tears.


2 Gina November 19, 2012 at 11:04 am

I need to get back to reading cool books! If only there were a few more minutes in the day. I will have to look him up… I especially like the illustrations. :)


3 jen November 19, 2012 at 11:30 am

My kids want to read The Incredible Book Eating Boy every single day! Looking forward to checking out This Moose Belongs to Me.

Thank you Oliver and Gabrielle for the enjoyable interview.


4 Nicole November 19, 2012 at 11:54 am

I want answers, too!

Oliver Jeffers is my favorite authors — the stories and images are poetry. My son refuses to pass his picture books along to his little sister.


5 Alethea November 19, 2012 at 1:11 pm

I heard him speak at SCIBA last year and oh my gosh I just wanted to record every word. He is hilarious and such a great artist!


6 bea November 19, 2012 at 5:06 pm

Love him! Great interview.


7 JennyW November 19, 2012 at 7:01 pm

I loved having another glimpse into the words of one of my favorite authors—thank you for doing these interviews!


8 Amy Hackworth November 19, 2012 at 11:58 pm

No way! Just a couple of weeks ago I was thinking I would love to see you interview Oliver Jeffers, and here he is! “Stuck” is one of our recent favorite books. We laughed the whole clever way through.

Agreed–interview too short. I think a follow-up is in order. :)


9 Mare November 20, 2012 at 8:17 am

I have all his books. My first boy was given one and I almost immediately purchased the remaining books in the collection. LOVE his illustrations and placement of words!


10 Laurie November 20, 2012 at 6:56 pm

One of my daughter’s favourite aspects of the books are the author photos! She especially loves the one in “Lost and Found”.


11 Jennifer November 25, 2012 at 5:52 pm

Thanks for the interview — coincidentally, I just got back from buying his Moose book, and happened to see this post!


12 Chelsa December 4, 2012 at 10:07 pm

Love Oliver Jeffers! My son, Henry, loves The Incredible Book Eating Boy. It’s such a fun story and the illustrations are marvelous. I’ve been tempted to buy another copy and tear out the pages to frame, but now I see I can buy prints of Jeffers’ art online. I just bought the US map on wood – can’t wait.


13 jen November 2, 2013 at 12:35 pm

When I clicked the link to his shop it said,
“This link isn’t real.
Go to a real link.
Remain calm.”
Even the broken links are funny.


14 A November 7, 2014 at 7:58 am

Adore his creative work in all forms. My fav book – This Moose Belongs to Me – awwwww it’s awesome, terrific. It’s playful, quirky, imaginative, moving and meaningful.


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