2017 has been a year where the most responsible of adults have acted like children. So it’s fitting that Gretel Killeen’s new book brings the discussion to their level.
You’ve written bestsellers that have been sold internationally, for children, teenagers and adults. Your new book, The Zebra Who Lost Its Spots, is a fable for old and young. What’s the inspiration for it?
Zebra is my response to the ridiculous social and political climes we live in. They’ve made me realise that the system is bung and we need to hear new voices. I believe those voices belong to The Differents; to those who see and feel the world in a unique manner, those who may not have loud voices but who have strong minds, hearts and morals. The book works on two levels, for adults and children, and is a gee-up to encourage us all to become the wonderful individuals that we were born to be.
Does the book have a catchy byline?
Of course. It’s a fable for everyone about love, courage and difference… and how complete freaking nutters get to rule the world.
You’ve written more than 20 books previously and been published by several of the world’s biggest publishers. Why did you choose to publish this book yourself?
The book really made this decision itself. It has a wild and free spirit that aligns with the gung-ho enthusiastic sensibilities of today’s technology, communications and marketing opportunities that bypass what may be considered to be more conventional avenues.
And you not only wrote the book but you also illustrated it as well?
Yes, I created the drawings on my iPad while flying between gigs. I have pretty well no ability when it comes to illustrations, so they’re very simple, but I’m happy with them (save for about three, which bizarrely are the ones some people like the best).
And now that The Zebra Who Lost Its Spots is published and out in the world, would you recommend this creative path to others?
The journey to publish this book has led me to new friends, strengthened old friendships and made me bolder and braver in my vision, goals and actions. These are all wonderful things that will make the rest of my life richer. This path is not easy, but it’s amazingly rewarding.
I think that society today encourages us to follow, narrow, “safe” paths. These paths are stifling and joyless, so I encourage everyone to grab life by the horns and take a creative challenge. The result may not be anything like what you expected…but it may also be a thousand times better.