Andi Watson Interview

Andi Watson is the popular creator of such books as Skeleton Key and Slow News Day from Amaze Ink/Slave Labor Graphics and Geisha, Breakfast After Noon, and Love Fights from Oni. This month, he returns with Little Star from Oni. Worlds of Westfield's Roger Ash recently caught up with Andi to find out more about the book.

Westfield: What can you tell us about the book Little Star?

Andi Watson: It's a series about being a dad, but more than that, about a guy (the hero, Simon Adams) who feels lost in the wake of becoming a father. There's the idea that having a child is the galvanizing force in your life, that it instantly grounds you and rearranges your priorities into the proper order. Which is certainly the case, life turns around the family and often conflicting with that, steady income and security. For Simon though it feels like all the certainties he expected to feel have turned into uncertainties.

His daughter, Cassie, is a couple of years old and after the dust has settled on the baby years there's an opportunity for the feelings of dissatisfaction to creep in. Simon looks forwards and backwards trying to make sense of the new landscape.

Westfield: Who are the main characters in the book?

Watson: There's Simon, Meg, his partner, and Cassie, their daughter. Simon has a circle of friends and workmates he compares himself and their own family life to.

Westfield: Where did the title Little Star come from?

Watson: I started with the idea of the nursery rhyme "twinkle twinkle little star," which I've sung so many times it's almost lost all meaning. I looked around for other titles but mostly stuck with "that parent book" until it was time to solicit. In the end I couldn't find anything that fit quite so well, and even though I was concerned Little Star might give the wrong impression of it being a sentimental-Hallmark type of story I stuck with it in the end.

Westfield: How much of this book is based on your own experiences as a father?

Watson: There's chunks of my own experience in there but it's definitely a work of fiction. I've been and am in the trenches with the late nights, nappies and "being the primary care-giver" so I have plenty of first hand experience. To some extent, mine is the first generation where it's been expected fathers would be "involved" in bringing up their kids. I really wanted to tell a story about a guy who is glad to be an "involved" dad but also senses the dissatisfactions that accompany it. The whole debate is a little patronizing, to me the word "involved" conjures up images of ineffectual men on the sidelines doing their bit but not being essential. Simon wonders if he is essential, that's part of his story. Society likes the idea of fathers being carers but hasn't really caught up with the realities yet.

Westfield: Are there any other projects you're working on that you'd like to mention?

Watson: I'm writing a 4-issue story which is being drawn by Simon Gane for Slave Labor. It's a love story set in 50s Paris and is absolutely gorgeous, Simon has done a beautiful job on it. Simon is currently working on issue #3 and we expect to have the series solicited in the New Year. We've both been working on this project for a long time. It's a real labour of love so I can't wait to get it out there.

Westfield: Any closing comments?

Watson: I'll be interested to see if the readers can relate to Simon and his experiences. I don't think it's a subject handled particularly well or with variety in the wider media. In England the only dads you hear about are millionaire footballers or guys dressing up as Batman to protest about access. Guess I'll find out in February.