What was your favourite childhood book and why?
I was born in Czechoslovakia in 1967, so you wouldn’t know the books I grew up with, but I loved books about a robber called Rumcajs written by Václav Čtvrtek and beautifully illustrated by Radek Pilař.
The main character Rumcajs was a robber, but he was more like Robin Hood. He was a good guy. He had a wife Manka and a little boy called Cipísek.
The illustrator Radek Pilař was a Czech artist who worked in illustration, animation, graphics, painting, filmmaking, and film directing. He studied art in the Academy of Fine Arts in Prague. The same college I went to.
Which of your own books is your favourite and why?
It’s not an easy question to answer and I’m sure that you must be aware of it. Every author has a special relationship with all his books.
But if I have to choose one, it would be Elephant.
The book is about an imaginary friend. My older daughter, when she was little, had an imaginary friend who lived with us for a while.
In the book I also copied pictures of tigers done by my younger daughter. I liked the tigers she drew with their stripes across their faces.
But the main reason why I like the book is the fact that the book can be understood in a couple of ways. Very little children believe that the Elephant is real. The older children think it was a dream and adults may guess that the elephant is an imaginary friend. I like that.
Why do you choose to read?
You open a book and before you know it you are somewhere else. Isn’t it amazing that the story starts in the head of somebody you have probably never met, but it’s now happening in your head, in your imagination, in your world of fantasy? Without you reading the story, as it is, it wouldn’t exist. Books are a miracle.
I like good story, but I equally appreciate good language and how well the book is written. I read for pleasure.