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Andy Robb - Blame Desperate Dan!

Andy Robb - Blame Desperate Dan!

As a children's author I'm often asked how the writing process works. To answer that question it's helpful to give a little bit of history as to how I came to write books in the first place.

With Christmas fast approaching I figured that beginning with a festive link (albeit a tad tenuous) might be an idea.

Putting to one side the usual concerns about its hyper commercialisation, Christmas is something I love and for many reasons. One of these was my childhood Christmas Day ritual of going to bed surrounded by presents and reading the newest Dandy Annual. This was without doubt my happy place and Christmas wasn't Christmas without an annual (or two).

Having been brought up in a book-loving household I was also an avid reader of children's comics. If you've read any of my children's books you'll notice how I meld both genres together; plenty of cartoons mixed with text aimed at a variety of reading capabilities.

That said, my childhood ambition wasn't that of a writer but a cartoonist. And on leaving art school the dream became a reality. Over the years I've worked as a cartoonist (and children's illustrator) on everything from comics to national advertising campaigns, TV merchandising to publishing projects, greetings cards to caricatures. But unbeknownst to me, God had other plans. 

Whilst still a devourer of books (metaphorically), I had never particularly seen myself as a writer. It wasn't for lack of anything to say, as those who know me will vouch, it was just that I didn't really think there was anything I wanted to say within the pages of a book.

All that changed when God apprehended me and ruined me for anything other than fulfilling his plans and purposes for my life. Part of this was giving me a passion to bring alive the Bible and to communicate the things of God to children. At the time we had young children so I began producing books aimed at this age range.

Over time I realised that my writing (and illustration) style was better suited to children between the ages of 7 and 11. Could this be a latent recollection of my childhood love of books and comics? I don't know but I do know that my sense of humour and the way I’m wired lent itself much better to this older target readership.

At the forefront of my thinking as I embark on any new book is the desire to write something that the child wants to read of their own volition, not just because someone has told them they ought to. So creating books that are engaging and entertaining is vital.

Within this approach there is then opportunity to weave in deeper biblical truths, to drop in discipleship tips and to encourage connection with God.

If you are a creative like me you'll be familiar with having three good ideas before breakfast. Coming up with book concepts is rarely the problem. But does the world need them? That’s the question. Added to which, there is no shortage of books in the marketplace and sometimes you wonder whether the book that is purportedly inside of everyone hasn't already gone into print.

Whilst I love beginning the process of creating a new book idea, with what I’ve just said in mind, this is always preceded by taking time to ask the Holy Spirit what (if anything) he wants me to write.

When we have heaven's inspiration we have heaven's assurance that what we write will be effective and of value. Why do I say that? Because what God inspires us with - breathes his life into - becomes a seed that carries within it the potential for fruitfulness.

It's the same principle we understand with regard to the Bible. Because the Holy Spirit inspired what we read it is more than a book of words. It is a living book of revelation.

That's not to compare the books we write with the Bible - that's a given - but the expectation that what the Holy Spirit inspires an author with can touch someone's heart, can bring them a revelation of God or can speak to them is to be expected.

It's an amazing privilege as an author to partner with the Holy Spirit in bringing into being new book ideas which can impact lives for God.

Perhaps you know someone who, like my younger self, doesn't think it's Christmas unless Santa has delivered an annual but why not also consider giving them one of the excellent Christian books this site has to offer and pray that the Holy Spirit brings them a fresh revelation of Jesus this Christmas.

Oh yes, if you hadn't worked out what the title of this article has to do with anything, Desperate Dan was, of course, the flagship character of the aforementioned Dandy.

Andy Robb is an award winning children’s author and illustrator with nearly 50 books to his name including the popular ’50 Bible Stories’ series. He’s also the creator of Derek the Cleric and along with his wife, Jane he leads Revival Church Billericay.

Andy Robb

An award-winning children’s author and illustrator with nearly 50 books to his name including the popular ’50 Bible Stories’ series. He’s also the creator of Derek the Cleric and along with his wife, Jane he leads Revival Church Billericay.

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50 Christmasiest Bible Stories (Paperback)
Andy Robb
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