Ahead of the eagerly anticipated launch of The 91-Storey Treehouse on 10 August, we caught up with Andy Griffiths and Terry Denton and found out about their favourite storybook characters and the magic behind their collaborative process.
Can you tell us something hardly anyone knows about you?
Andy Griffiths: I collect a lot of random things. I have a jar full of old chewing gum wrappers that I collected when I was young. I also have a jar of my toenail clippings. And a jar of vomit, although it’s not really vomit, it’s corn relish but corn relish is practically the same thing as vomit so it might as well be a jar of vomit. I also have 10 toy telephones—don’t ask me why, I just do.
Terry Denton: I have size twelve feet and they are getting bigger.
What is your favourite thing about your fellow Treehouse creator?
Andy Griffiths: I can never predict what Terry is going to come up with in response to my ideas. He always surprises and delights me with his nutty original take on everything he draws. There is a lot of laughter when we are working on the books—he just comes up with mad stuff all day long and I love the challenge of having to modify the stories to make all his madness make sense (...well a sort of sense!)
Terry Denton: He is so smart and wonderful and handsome, and he tells me exactly what to say.
I can never predict what Terry is going to come up with in response to my ideas. He always surprises and delights me with his nutty original take on everything he draws. There is a lot of laughter when we are working on the books.
If you could choose any story to live in, which story would it be? Why?
Andy Griffiths: In the 91-Storey we have a garbage dump level. One of my favourite memories of growing up was those fun Saturday afternoons (in the days before recycling was normal) when my dad would take a load of rubbish to the dump and I would be able to get out of the car and look through all the weird and wonderful things that everybody was throwing away — and better still, I could take anything I liked. So I would live there — there would always be something new and surprising to find.
Terry Denton: I love the danger and excitement of the chainsaw juggling level in The 52-Storey Treehouse because I have the fun of watching all of my body parts grow back.
What did your teachers think about your stories/illustrations when you were at school?
Andy Griffiths: They were quite amused by them and my reports often contained comments like, ‘has a very good sense of humour’. I remember in Grade 5 I wrote and taped a comedy race call (you know the sort—‘Chewy is still stuck to the starting line’ etc.) and my teacher Mrs Jensen thought it was so good she played it for the class. I was very proud.
Terry Denton: They never really got to see them because we didn't have an art department. And I made sure that they definitely didn't see the caricatures I drew of them.
I love the danger and excitement of the chainsaw juggling level in The 52-Storey Treehouse because I have the fun of watching all of my body parts grow back.
If you were a story book character, what character would you be?
Andy Griffiths:: Well, I’m already Andy in the Treehouse books, I guess, but if I had to be a character in somebody else’s story I would be Gregor Samsa in Franz Kafka’s Metamorphosis. I mean, he goes to sleep as a human and wakes up in his bed as an insect. How cool would that be?!
Terry Denton: King Kong! Because he has size twelve feet too.
What advice would you give to young aspiring writers/illustrators?
Andy Griffiths:: Read as much as you can and write as often as you can. Reading will fill your brain with a huge amount of knowledge and random ideas and perspectives that you can draw on for your own writing. And writing as often as you can is how you develop your writing muscles. Keep a diary. Write reports for the school newsletter. Write cartoons and stories for your friends to enjoy. It all counts!
Terry Denton: Fill as many sketch books as you can and draw what you can't draw.