I recently did a Question and Answer for Scholastic Australia for their website.  Thought it might make an amusing little read here.

Where were you born? Where do you live now? 
I was born in Sydney, grew up in Sydney and still live in Sydney.  I have been outside of Sydney though!
Where did you go to school? 
I went to Hunters Hill Primary School, a fantastic little school with some great teachers and a great school library.  I was a library monitor (nerd!).  It also had some fantastic after-school activities, including pottery, enamelling and puppet-making classes with a lovely lady called Jonquil.

Did you have a nickname?
Only later in life – but I’m not sharing that with you!

What were you like in school? 
My school reports all said the same thing “Ben would do better if he stopped staring out the window day-dreaming”.  Eventually I did.
I was never sporty or popular, smart or outgoing.  So I made do with being arty.
What is the naughtiest thing you did?
I know it is a bit boring, but I really wasn’t a particularly naughty boy (I was no angel either let me tell you).  Perhaps I have just blotted out all the naughty things from my memory?

What was your favourite book growing up? 
I really had quite a few.  A reoccurring favourite was the “Church mice” series by Graham Oakley.  They were beautifully illustrated but also gave such character to a group of mice and their cat friend Sampson.  The Babapapa books from France were also fascinating (very 1970s!).  And you can’t go past “Where the wild things are”.   A classic that I felt very attached to was “The just so stories” by Rudyard Kipling.  I had a copy with a deep red dust jacket and it felt like it was more special than my other books.  It also was a great set of stories that lead the imagination on to wonder “where did things come from?”
Who is your favourite children’s author?
My absolute favourite author growing up was Jill Tomlinson, who amongst other books wrote “Hilda the hen who wouldn’t give up”.  These were transitional books with black and white illustrated plates.  I honestly probably took longer than most to get beyond children’s illustrated books (being arty myself I felt this was justifiable) but once I did I landed on the very best “boys-own adventure” series of Biggles books by Capt. W.E Johns (please don’t get me started on political-correctedness….they were an example of their times) and the Hornblower series by C. S. Forester.  Ahoy there!  Now I was away!
What is your favourite food/colour/movie? 
What..all at the same time?  Favourite food is Lasagne, colour is oche-yellow, burnt-orange or rusty-red and movie is “Ferris Bueller’s Day Off”

Who inspired you to write/illustrate?
I have always wanted to illustrate but life tend to side-track you.  i have always kept some form of artish stuff happening.  I did Cartooning classes as a kid, did 3-unit art at school and went to Julian Ashton Art School for a while but was encouraged to “get serious” and did I went off and did architecture instead.  Now they influence each other but is has shown me I am definitely an illustrator and not an artist.  In my mind an artist creates art for themselves and if they are lucky others will enjoy it to.  An illustrator produces art for others and usually enjoys themselves in the process.  I call myself a brief-driven illustrator.  If you gave me a blank piece of paper and said “draw anything” i would ask “what would you like me to draw?”.
How did you get started?
My Mum.  She always encouraged my interest in art and drawing especially so it kept the dream alive.  But when I wanted to turn it into a reality I needed to start somewhere.  I did a Sydney University Adult Education course run by Donna Rawlins and Wayne Harris and over time developed a portfolio of work that got me my first gig – illustrating “Angry Mangry” for Barton Williams.
How old were you at that stage?
Thirty-three and a third (now say it with an Irish accent).  Prior to that, when I was I guess 14 or 15, I illustrated my own story that I wrote for my best friend who had no middle name so as a kid he gave himself one.  It was Tommy Turtle Popsy Bonky. In my story Tommy Turtle was, well, a turtle and Popsy Bonky was a Jack-in-the box.  They were trying to hitch a ride to visit Tommy’s Aunt. The plot was shamelessly lifted from Hilda the hen, but don’t tell my friend because he loved it.
Why did you want to be a writer/illustrator?
I am now a father of two girls.  It was seeing the world of children again through them that pulled me backwards in time and I remembered how much I loved reading children’s books.  Since then I have re-discovered a world of wonderful illustrators and authors that I admire and generally  have a major crush on.

How do you think up ideas? 
That’s a good question.  Ideas for drawings generally come from bouncing around the various brief requirements (yes I know…sounds boring doesn’t it) and rough scribbles.  Then gut feel takes over and I get attached to something.  I’m also usually trying to look at each illustration from a different angle – is it a close-up, a distance panorama, a perspective shot from above or below?
Do you have a special place where you write/illustrate?
On the train on the way to work – well for the rough scribbles anyway.  You get some good looks from other passengers! Other than that I sit and dream of having a special place to illustrate….one day.
What is the best thing about being a writer/illustrator?
I think the best part is having my work appreciated by the authors that I illustrate for.  We all have skills and I don’t see my arty ones as any more special than others – but other people seem to think it is pretty cool.  And this make me glad.  A good review along the way also boosts the confidence.
Have you had any funny or embarrassing moment as a writer/illustrator?
So far my favourite work that I have illustrated is “Engibear” – who is a (slightly tubby) engineering bear and the main character in “Engibear’s Dream”, written by real-life engineer and author Andrew King.  I live in Sydney and Andrew in Brisbane, so it was a long time before we actually met.  What struck me once we did finally meet was how much the character I had created actually resembled the author (sorry Andrew) – we both had a bit of a laugh about it.
What do you do when you are not writing/illustrator?
Ha Ha…most people ask me that question the other way around:  “How do you find time to get your illustrations done”.  The answer is usually between 10pm and 1am.  Other than that I’m a full-time architect, husband and father.  So busy, basically!
What would you have chosen to be if you were not a writer/illustrator?
Architect (check!), Zoologist (hmmm, still thinking about it), Inventor (sounds so cool doesn’t it.  What are you? Ohh I’m an inventor), Map-maker (I love maps), Stay-at-home Dad (wife not so happy about this idea)
Which famous person from the past would you like to talk to?
Captain Cook or Leonardo da Vinci