We met author Rob Scotton when he visited the Barnes and Noble in Carle Place recently. He wrote the fabulous book “Splish, Splash, Splat.”
How old were you when you wrote your first book?
I was 44 when I wrote my first book. I was an artist for many years and I use to design greeting cards. All my adult life I was designing greeting cards, working in advertising. And that gave me an education. By designing greeting cards it taught me to draw characters and it taught me how to draw characters in different situations and in different poses and it gave me a lot of practice to use body language. To show characters how they would move... and pose.
Why are there ducks throughout the book?
That’s a very, very good question. And that will be answered in the next book. The story that I’m writing now. At first it just seemed to be a really eccentric, odd, different idea to bring these ducks into Splat’s world and for it to just be a question that people would ask. For me that was intriguing. I just like the idea of it being something so very odd, that people would ask me questions about ducks in a cat’s world? What’s that about? I don’t know.
Why doesn’t Splat eat Seymour?
Because they’re friends. Would you eat your friend? Again, that’s a very interesting question because Seymour’s a mouse of course. Splat is a cat. Cats eat mice. But do they? And if they do why should they? And that’s a question that Splat actually asks in the very first book. Why do cats eat mice? And it’s because it’s what we’ve always done. But Splat doesn’t believe that mice should be eaten by cats. And he makes sure all his friends don’t eat Seymour as well.
Did you ever want to be an author when you were a child?
I always wanted to be an artist when I was a child. Always wanted to be an artist. And when I was younger than you I started to draw and I drew everyday. I would draw everything. I would draw my pants, other people, I would copy pictures and I would just draw endlessly. And all through school I did that. And at some point when I went to college I thought I would at some point have the opportunity to illustrate somebody else’s story. I always considered myself an artist rather than an author. It wasn’t until a few years ago that I was given the opportunity to write. But I absolutely adore writing and creating these worlds.
Would you like to see this series turned into a movie, like a children’s movie?
Absolutely. I would love to see the series turn into a movie. But what I would like to see even more is for Splat as a character to become a more rounded character, plus Splat’s world to become -- for me to explore Splat’s world more in picture books and I want to develop Splat more as a character before I see him turned into a movie.
What inspired you to write this book?
“Splish, Splash, Splat.” I was looking for another story for the "Splat" series and I thought it was time to move away from or to move on from calendar events. You know in the previous books, “Splat the Cat,” in the very first book, went to school or started school. That was a really fun book. The second book it was about Valentine’s Day, the third book was a Christmas story. All a lot of fun, but all very much calendar events. What I wanted to do was create a book which was about a story. It was more of an adventure. And I thought, what would be a good idea. And cats and water, I thought are pretty interesting subjects. Cats don’t like water at all. So if cats don’t like water, there obviously must be a good story there to tell. So I thought I would focus on swimming and tell the story of Splat learning to swim.
How old is Splat?
He’s about 7. Actually as I started to draw him three years ago and he was about 5 then. 5, 6, 7. He would be all of those ages now.
Why does Spike have a black eye?
He has a patch over his eye. He has an old-fashioned swim suit on so it covers up his body. But he’s a patchy cat. He’s a cat that has black patches across his white body, his white furry body. It was just a patch and it was to just give him — it was to make him look slight different again from the other cats. That was all.
Why are all the animals cats?
Because it’s a cat's world. So all the animals are cats. Seymour isn’t a cat. And I’ve been thinking of bringing in a dog character in as well. And we have fish of course. But the main characters are cats because this world, Splat’s world, is inhabited by cats. Just as our world is inhabited by people. Splat’s world is full of cats.
Why did you name the teacher Mrs. Wimpydimple?
Mrs. Wimpydimple was the very first name that came into my mind when I wanted a fun name for the teacher. When I asked myself what a fun name would be for Splat's teacher, the two words came to me. Wimpy and Dimple. And it was as simple as that. As soon as I said the name in my mind, it made me laugh, made me smile and if it made me smile I thought that should be quite funny. It sounded very funny and I thought it was a really good name. Do you think it’s a good name? It’s a funny name. I often hear when I’m telling the story and I read her name Mrs. Wimpydimple for the very first time, the children laugh and people laugh.
Why did you decide to have one weird cat?
Which cat is the weird cat? Plank is the weird cat? Have you noticed that the cats that I make that live in Splat’s world? There’s Splat of course, then there’s a character called Spike. Splat’s a little cat, Spike is a much bigger cat. He’s wide, he’s big, he provides, if you like, a contrast in size to Splat so that he makes the pages and the pictures more visually interesting because you have a little character and a large character to contrast with. And likewise I wanted another character that was a different shape again to Splat and Spike. So I was left with tall and thin and as a character Plank just needed to be that little bit different. I wanted in the story to have a cat that really liked water from the get go. Splat disliked water immensely at first and if you read the story. Splat dislikes water I needed another character to really, really be enthusiastic about swimming and about the thought of learning to swim. And that just made for a better story. So that’s why Plank’s weird.
Is Splat afraid of water in all your books?
I don’t think we really talk about whether Splat’s afraid of water in all the books. Maybe he is, would he be afraid in all the books? Well, this is a story about him learning to swim. So he doesn’t necessarily like water, but we don’t get to know just how scared he is of water until this story. So he learns to like water at the end.
What is your favorite book besides the Splat series?
My favorite picture book? Ever? Or any book? I’ll tell you what my favorite picture book is. A very, very favorite picture book is a book by Maurice Sendak and it’s called “Where the Wild Things Are”. A wonderful, wonderful book and it was the very first book that I read in school that a teacher, she took it off the shelf and showed me, at school. I fell in love with it right there. I could still see myself turning the pages all that time ago when I was in school. It was a fabulous book.