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Gus Gordon

Author, Illustrator

Gus Gordon is an internationally acclaimed illustrator and author. He has illustrated and written over 80 books for children. His illustrations are known for their loose and energetic line work, mixed media and humour. His writing is always anthropomorphic, which he attributes this to his love of Kenneth Grahame’s Wind in The Willows.

Gus’s first picture book, Wendy, was a Notable Book in the 2010 Children’s Book Council of Australia (CBCA) Picture Book of the Year Awards. His second picture book, Herman and Rosie, now published in twelve countries, has been internationally acclaimed and awarded, including the CBCA Honour award for best picture book in 2013. Somewhere Else, which was published in November 2016, is an irresistible story about a duck called George, the possibility of adventure, and taking risks to realise what you value most in life.

Where were you born?

In Sydney but we soon moved to a farm in northern NSW where we made things and were cruelly forced to use our imagination. Tough times.

What other jobs have you had?

When I left school I worked some years as a stockman on humungous cattle stations in far north Queensland and the Northern Territory. One of these stations was 16,000 square kilometres! Later, in the city, I worked on building sites banging things, making loud noises and digging really large holes.

What themes are recurring in your work?

I always end up writing about ordinary characters (animals) and their journeys. They either have an exceptional (nonsensical – often inconceivable) adventure or they discover something they didn’t know that was there in front of them all along. Generally I’m seduced by the everyday ‘man in the street’ character who is missing something and may or may not realise it. Also, humour is never far away, even in the darker moments.

What have been the highlights of your career?

Seeing my first book, A Day With Noodles, in the bookstore after illustrating other folk’s books for so long. Seeing Wendy through to publication gave me the confidence to keep up my writing. Heading to New York to research my new book Herman and Rosie and picking up my agent while over there. I think my biggest career highlight was waiting (very nervously) as US publishers bid for Herman and Rosie at auction in New York. Moments like these make the long hours and storytelling frustrations well and truly worthwhile.

Where have your works been published?

Australia, New Zealand, China, Korea, the UK and the US (soon!)

What are you passionate about?

Making books; bringing to life an idea or character from a sketchbook. I love spending time with my family and kids and I find the beach particularly inspiring.

Anything else you’d like to share with us?

I am partial to good wine and mouldy cheese. I am also a fan of good comedy (Mitch Hedburg, Bill Bailey, Ricky Gervais) and indie music (The Blue Nile, Trashcan Sinatras, Deehunter, Fleet Foxes, Grandaddy, Orange Juice, Sparklehorse, Bill Callahan, Frightened Rabbit, Decemberists, Matt Pond PA etc etc.)

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