I live and work in South West France, where I have a large tumbledown farmhouse surrounded by open country.
I did my first degree at Hull University. It was either that or go to art college, and I decided, unwisely, that I wanted to be a writer. The life of a writer, as I was to discover, is a lonely one; it is also difficult, and often maddening, and requires endless perseverance in the face of discouragement: not the sort of thing which any University course could help you with. But then I'm not sure that an art college can really prepare you for the life of a painter either.
I am nonetheless grateful to Hull University for giving me some idea of what reading is all about; and also because it was at Hull that I met my wife Ann, the mother of my children and my dearest friend.
After graduating I taught for a year at a terrifying comprehensive school in East Hull, and then did a leisurely year lecturing for about three days a week at a Teacher Training College in Heidelberg. After that I limped back to England, where the state paid me for three years to do research (again at Hull) for a PhD on 'The Novel Between the Wars', a study of the early work of Christopher Isherwood, Henry Green, Graham Greene, Evelyn Waugh and Anthony Powell. Some years of struggling with an unwieldy rag-bag of material followed. Having finally knocked my thesis into some sort of shape I was awarded my PhD, and then worked as a guest Professor at the University of Maryland for eighteen months. By the time that came to an end I was married with children, and it was time to start making some money.
Ann and I opened a bookshop in York - she already had a record shop - and then we added on a Vegetarian Cafe, and had four children in all. Ann died in 1991.
My eldest son is a software designer, my eldest daughter is a painter, my youngest daughter is a film editor and my youngest son is an animator, so they are all doing something fulfilling and creative, which is all I would wish for anyone.
in 1991 Oxford University Press published a children's novel I had written called 'The Musclemen'. Around that time a range of primitive and decidedly expensive robots had started appearing in the toy shops, and I envisaged a scenario in which a team of rogue robots, the Warlords of Pandemonium, would terrorise the two children who were given them at Christmas. The task of defeating these monsters would fall to a shaky alliance of traditional toys, under the reluctant leadership of a teddy bear called Hodge.
On publication the book was well reviewed, and was recommended in the Christmas children's book supplement of 'The Independent.'
People often tell me that the book's plot is similar to that of Pixar's film 'Toy Story'. In fact 'Toy Story' came out some four years later, so if anyone was copying anyone it would be Pixar not me. But the similarities are probably due more to synchronicity than plagiarism on Pixar's part.
I have now updated the book for Kindle, with a new title of 'New Toys'. At some time in the future I intend to write a sequel, which is why the book is described on Amazon as volume one in a series: 'The Fatestones.'
My last bookshop, which closed earlier this year, was in Cambridge, just off Kings Parade, which is the stretch of golden stone and spires that always appears in the background whenever a talking head from one of the Cambridge Colleges appears on TV. Christopher Isherwood and Edward Upward claimed to have discovered a grotesque through-the-looking-glass Cambridge called 'Mortmere' when they were undergraduates there is the nineteen twenties, and if you look hard enough traces of Mortmere can still be found in odd corners of the town and some of its odder characters. For more about this see Isherwood's early autobiography, 'Lions and Shadows'.
These days, I am afraid, independent bookselling is a lot less rewarding, in both senses of the word, and by the end of my lease I was ready to move on, and take up an occupation I find more rewarding in every sense. This September I am going back to University -- Cambridge School of Art, part of Anglia Ruskin University -- to study for an MA in Children's Book illustration: something I should have done decades earlier. A portfolio of my recent work can be found on my website www.davidlambourneillustrator.co.uk and on my Facebook page David Lambourne, Illustrator.