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North Melbourne Books Talks to Marta Altés
Marta Altés: It could be, but no… In this case The King Cat is not based on any cat or dog I know. Actually, the story was VERY different when I started working on it. It was meant to be a story about a cat who couldn't sleep because things at home had changed. The book was called "Sleepless John". And it was a cat looking for a spot to sleep in. All his favourite spots to sleep had disappeared… I draw a lot of funny situations, but I wasn't 100% happy with it. It felt like I needed a good reason for all this "changing situation" (and him not being able to sleep). I found this excuse eventually!
I decided to add a new character to the story, and that would be the cause for him not being able to sleep. From that point it became a story about the arrival of a new member in the family. Things were changing around King Cat, and he didn't know why. I think any person who has a young sibling (including me) can relate to the story of this cat. I was the Queen of my house for 4 years! And then my brother arrived… :) ( the best brother ever)
MA: Laughing is necessary in life. My books use a lot of humour, although it is not something I do consciously. But I'm a positive person and I think that comes across in my books. (I hope so!) Making people who read my stories laugh is one of the best parts of my job. I feel extremely lucky.
I keep a small diary full of sketches of my everyday life that I think makes people laugh as well… :)
NMB: Your illustrations are always wonderfully vibrant, colourful and happy. Who are the artists you draw inspiration from?
MA: AWW Thanks! I think there are so many things that influence an illustrator's work. Like movies, music, posters you might see on the street, feelings…There are so many artists I admire. I'm fascinated by the work of Beatrice Alemagna, Jon Klassen, Alexis Deacon, Tomi Ungerer, Pam Smy, Max, Anouk Ricard, Kitty Crowther, Laura Carlin… (among many others!)
NMB: What’s your own favourite picture book?
MA: I think maybe now I'd pick The King Cat, maybe because it's the last one I've done. Each one of my books have to do with a different moment of my life, so it's difficult to pick, because they are very different.
NMB: When you’re not drawing and painting, what type of books do you enjoy reading?
MA: I love graphic novels. Since I was a kid, I used to read comic books with my brother. I think it was almost every weekend that the two of us would read our comics while my parents read the newspapers. My book shelves are full of comics, picture books and novels.