It’s easy to feel lost and alone in this fast-moving world, and comfort can come from unexpected places. In Mawson Bear’s picture book for adults we meet a wise old bear who offers simple advice that goes straight to the heart. The following interview is with Mawson himself. I have never interviewed a bear before and I was rather nervous but Mawson soon put me at ease, just the way he does for readers in It’s A Bright World To Feel Lost In.
Can you tell us what inspired you, Mawson, to go on this Bear adventure?
We bears feel, deep down in our stuffing, that when all the naps are snoozed and the words are said, everything is still grand. That’s why we are such a comfort. But so many people forget this. Many people go down, down, into doubts and worry. They even forget all about us bears. So I pondered one day, between naps, that it would be grand to sort of say comforting things in little books for people.
I read that one of your influences is Charles Schultz, whose remarkable Charlie Brown comic strip ran for many years. I’d love to hear something about your affection for that great cartoonist.
Many bears know Snoopy very well. There was a Snoopy-stuffy in our own family long ago. And Mr Schultz’s little people are just the kind of small people who most often keep us bears close. His drawings are kind and gentle and never upset people and they make you smile, even when they are about sad things. Wouldn’t it be wonderful to be able to do something like that in between one’s naps.
Which comes first, the words or the pictures?
Mostly it’s the Words. They are a bother because they are mostly about feelings, and feelings are hard to say. Sometimes they are just TOO big to say. The feelings, not the words. But there are words too big to say too .. umm .. That’s why pictures are grand because you can make one say what a feeling feels like by sort of .. umm .. showing what it might look like umm … if you could .. err … see it .. Bother. Muddled again. Perhaps if we can go to your next question?
What has been the most enjoyable thing about creating the series?
It’s a grand feeling when the words arrive at last that finally feel just right for what you wanted to say. Also sitting proudly for the photos that help to show what my ponders look like, if you could see a ponder, is fun. We are good at sitting still. Talking to fellow baffled ones of every shape and stuffing has been enjoyable too.
Your tales have a warmth and sensitivity to them which makes them very touching to read. Would you consider yourself a bear with a big heart?
I am a bear of generous proportions and a lot of stuffing. We well-stuffed bears can’t help being warm all over. It’s just the way we are.
Your next story in the series, She Ran Away From Love, features quite a girly bear. Can you tell us why Frilly has been given the starring role? (She certainly looks the part).
It started out as a book about exploring and quests with other bears in it. Then Frilly arrived and sat on some of the pages looking solemn. She even sat on my generously proportioned tummy. We discovered she was just the right size for most of the exploring. She didn’t sink the lily pad, for instance, when she sat on that, and the others tried it and they did. So Frilly got to be the star. It just shows that small, pinkish girly bears can do anything.