Literati profile: Ken Spillman

What is your most recent creative project?

I’ve just sent out the co-authored biography of a largely unknown Australian who worked with British Intelligence and the French Resistance to save hundreds of Allied personnel during WWII. Newly released is Aliya’s Day Out, a children’s picture book raising funds for the Foundation for Ichthyosis and Related Skin Types (USA), and next month HarperCollins India will launch a book I co-wrote on yogic wisdom for teens.

What new projects are on your current horizon?

With two recent biographies I’ve ventured away from the kind of nonfiction I’ve written previously, and I’m enjoying it. I’ve now embarked on a double biography – a WA man and his partner in life and entertainment who spent decades at the top in British musical theatre. I’m also developing a new series for Scholastic Asia and need to write a new Daydreamer Dev adventure for Puffin.

Why do you love what you do and what inspired you to begin?

When I was eight years old, my writing skills reached a level that made it possible to enjoy creating different realities on paper. Until then, I had only been able to enjoy stories as a consumer, and the possibilities offered by this new power truly excited me – they still do!

If you could collaborate with any other creative in the world, who would it be and what would you make together?

I’d like to collaborate again with young Colombian artist Silvana Giraldo. Earlier this year, our book My Upside Down World was selected for the Bologna Ragazza Award Amazing Bookshelf. It was her first book and I feel she connected instinctively with my work. I’d hope to create another multilayered picture book, with text and images that invite fresh and reconsidered readings each time.

What’s the best piece of advice you’ve been given that you try to incorporate in your approach to work and creativity?

The importance of being oneself has been said in many different ways by many different people, but I often think of Mozart’s statement that ‘I do not strive for any originality’. The importance of application has also been stressed by many, and I like Erica Jong’s advice to ‘work until the inspiration comes’.

If you could travel to any destination tomorrow, where would it be and why?

India. From the time of my first visit, I’ve felt I belong there. It stimulates me like no other place and I’ve been dozens of times now. I’ll be doing a tour of schools there this year, but it has been way too long between drinks.

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