5 Questions with Kael Tudor - 2020 Stratford - Salariya Joint Winner

We were delighted to announce the result of the 2020 Stratford - Salariya Picture Book Prize last week, and this week we have something just as exciting to share with you all. After whittling down a record-breaking number of entries to just eight shortlisted entries, our judging panel couldn't decide between a final two; Jo Surman and Kael Tudor have now been crowned the joint winners of the 2020 Stratford - Salariya Prize!

The competition, which has been running now for four years, welcomes authors who have a wonderful story to tell and illustrators who can create charming images, suitable for children aged 0-5. The cash prize of £1,000 will be split equally between the two winners, they will receive career advice from United Agent's Jodie Hodges and there is a potential that their work may be published under our very own 'Scribblers' imprint.

Today we are bringing you an exclusive interview with one of the joint winners - Kael Tudor!

Kael Tudor is a picture book writer and primary school teacher and lives in Swansea with his wife and three children. He graduated with first class honours in BA Creative and Professional Writing from the University of Glamorgan and writes picture books in a wide variety of styles, but almost always on the silly side!



Question One:

What made you enter the Stratford - Salariya competition and why?

I'm in the mindset of taking as many opportunities as I can, so when I found out about the competition I decided immediately to enter. I had no expectations, but at the end of the day you can't win a competition unless you enter it! The prizes sounded fantastic, too, in addition to potentially having my story looked at by Philip Ardagh and Rob Biddulph, two authors I'm a big fan of. There was nothing to lose, and I'm so glad I took the chance!


Question Two:

What inspired your idea? Have you been working on it for a while or was it a spur of the moment?​

The vast, vast majority of my stories come from spur of the moment thoughts, words or phrases, and One Goose, Two Moose was no different! One evening I was walking to the kitchen to make a cup of tea and I asked my wife if she wanted anything. She asked me for some mousse, so I replied, "One mousse, two mousse?" and the concept of multiple moose was instantly planted in my head. From there I figured there had to be a different animal that would confuse the line of moose, so a goose was my natural choice thanks to the rhyme.

After mulling on the idea for a while I swapped the characters around so that it was a line of geese with a random moose, because I thought the idea of a huge moose in a line of small geese would look far funnier in illustrations, and the rest went from there! It was one of those beautiful stories that you manage to get written in a few hours, and it's remained largely unchanged since then.


Question Three:

How did you get into writing / illustrating? Have you been doing it long?

I have always been a big reader, and as a child I had a few notebooks full of my own stories (usually in the style of the Goosebumps books). This carried on for the majority of my childhood and into my teens. After college I started a degree in BA Creative and Professional Writing at the University of Glamorgan (which has since changed to the University of South Wales) and graduated with first class honours after writing a middle grade novel for my final assignment.

After university I didn't write half as much as I'd have liked, partially due to training as a teacher, getting married, having children etc, but then made a real commitment to getting back to my writing and doing it every day. I rewrote my novel, and then while I left it to rest before returning to it with fresh eyes I decided to write some picture book ideas I had. I loved writing them so much I haven't yet gotten back to editing the novel! So many ideas come flying my way and whenever I finish a new story I get on to writing the next one. I'll finish editing the novel one day, but for now I'm having so much fun with picture books and I've no intention of stopping!


Question Four:

How did you prepare yourself for entering the competition?​

 I've got a very simple rule for competitions, as well as other submissions: Expect nothing. I have a lot of faith in my ability as a writer and work really hard, but the job comes with a LOT of rejection, and it can get you down. My method for combating that disappointment is to have no expectations. In fact, this makes any victory, no matter how small, a really thrilling experience, and it makes and rejections so much easier to deal with.

When I recieved the phone call to tell me I'd won I was absolutely over the moon, and I feel like the victory was that little bit sweeter because I hadn't been expecting it. I'm still so thrilled to have won!


Question Five

What are you most looking forward to in the future? What are your goals with writing/illustrating?​

My goal with my writing is to find myself a fantastic agent and get as many of my stories out into the world for people to read. I would love to write for a living and see my books for sale in as many places that will have them, and I have every intention of working as hard as I can to make that happen.

The idea of getting to hold one of my books in my hands, with the words brought to life by one of the many, many talented illustrators that are out there, is so exciting, and I am going to make sure it happens, while continuing to write down all of the weird ideas that pop into my brain!


We hope this interview with Kael has helped you get to know a little more about him and we hope you will join us in congratulating and celebrating this achievement!