CREATIVE AND RESOURCEFUL: Author and illustrator Colin Thompson.
CREATIVE AND RESOURCEFUL: Author and illustrator Colin Thompson.

Hero of his own true story, Colin Thompson presents

WHILE most writers struggle to find a publisher for their first novel, Bellingen-based author Colin Thompson had no such drama.

The British-born illustrator, former potter, BBC documentary maker and writer Thompson, who will present the next author talk at Coffs Harbour Library on June 6, was actually asked to write his first book.

"I didn't start writing until I was in my late 40s," he said.

"I wrote my first book because I kept being pestered by a publisher.

"I had no desire to be a writer whatsoever and now I am published all around the world and have six books about to come out in China."

Thompson had approached the publisher with illustrations he'd been working on but instead of handing them over and having someone else write the words she encouraged him to do it himself. The rest, as they say in the classics, is history.

He has now published 70 works and in 2004 he was awarded the Aurealis Award in the children's long fiction category for his novel How to Live Forever.

These days the 76-year-old British-born journeyman finds it more lucrative and quicker to illustrate jigsaw puzzles for the successful international company Ravensburger.

He is, however, also still busy creating and illustrating new novels and picture books as well as working on a series of alphabet drawings for jigsaw puzzles and a series of three children's novels, and he's just finished a picture book to be released later in the year and is set to start work on another.

He said he had actually slowed down recently after experiencing a "surprise heart attack".

"I went down to the hospital. I didn't know I was having a heart attack until they took bloods," he said.

The next thing he knew he was on his way down to Sydney and being prepped for a double bypass. It was his second round of bypass surgery. The first was a decade or so ago as a result of smoking 80 cigarettes a day between the ages of 16 and 36.

This time around he's unsure what caused it, but is hoping it's all behind him now. He is back home in his idyllic rural retreat at Bellingen with his wife and slowly but surely returning to work.

"I love it here," he said.

"I moved to Australia in 1995 and Bellingen in 1999.

"I can live anywhere with my work."

That wasn't always the case. Before computers were as commonplace and powerful as they are now, he had to send manuscripts in a wooden box to the UK.

"That box went all around the world," he laughed.

To hear more of Colin's fascinating story, book in for his talk at the library, phone (02) 6648 4900 or go to

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