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Debi Gliori

"Of course I didn’t know then that I would write stories. All I knew then was that I loved reading them."–Debi Gliori

Debi Gliori is an award-winning picture book author-illustrator and has written and illustrated numerous picture books.


I can still remember the first time I fell into a story; falling to such an extent that the real world, the world with its smell of dancing dust, the world of sunshine highlighting the imperfections in the Victorian glass of the windows of our house in Glasgow, the world of my mother cooking far away downstairs in the kitchen, the world of muted traffic outside on the Great Western Road; all this fell away as I turned the pages of the first chapter of The Wind in the Willows and stepped into the world of Mole and Ratty, taking the first steps that led, many years later, many miles of words both written and read, to the place where I am now, a writer of stories.

Of course I didn’t know then that I would write stories. All I knew then was that I loved reading them. For me stories were brothers, sisters and friends; filling the long hours between childhood and adolescence, holding up a true mirror in which I might find out who I was, rather than a distorted reflection of who I was expected to become.

Growing up a lonely only child prepared me for the years of solitude spent as a writer; years spent in the company of people who don’t exist, imaginary people you have conversations with. It’s a paid form of madness, this writing stuff. Salaried insanity, I guess, though not much salary was involved at the beginning, as I recall. Back then, we ate a heck of a lot of lentils, ignored the fact we could see our breath inside the house during winter, and dragged on another sweater instead of turning up the thermostat. I’ve written stories in a succession of damp, drafty, miles-from-anywhere-therefore-relying-on-rusting-car-to-get-kids-to-school cottages; I’ve squeezed my illustrator’s studio into one dimly-lit bonsai cupboard after another, and I’ve met pressing deadlines with my fax machine balanced on top of the toilet, and my drafting table perched at the top of a staircase so cold, I had to wear gloves to stop my hands from seizing up in the icy atmosphere. Oh, yes, cough, wheeze, I’ve suffered for my art.

Not that much, though. These days I work in a toasty light-drenched studio tucked in a corner of the garden between the compost bins, the logpile and the raspberry canes. Despite the fact the studio looks out of five windows onto a picture perfect view of sky, hills and wide open spaces, I work with my blinds firmly drawn, daylight filtered through their white canvas, a painterly northern light falling through two big skylights above my table, and nothing visible outside to distract me.

This is because I’m trying to see my characters in my head. I’m hoping that they will not only appear, but will also express themselves loudly and unselfconsciously within range of my hearing. At least, that’s the plan. While I wait for my characters to show up, I sit with a fountain pen in my left hand and give a good impression of being a writer. I write. I score out what I’ve written and I re-write. I score out parts of that and I re-draft it. I fill my fountain pen with ink it probably doesn’t need yet, and polish its nib on a bit of hoarded blotting paper. I stare into space and sigh a lot. I write something, read it, and score it out. I re-write it, remove all the adjectives and then put them back, one by one. I score that out with rather unseemly force, and then start a new paragraph. . . .

It’s a very dull thing to watch, a writer at work. So dull that whole casts of characters show up just to watch the boring writer, writing. The characters blow into their cupped hands, shuffle their feet and chat to each other, while the writer avidly eavesdrops on their conversations, rapidly transcribing what is being said and what he or she can glean from a series of furtive glances in the character’s direction.

There are great days...and then there are days I’d swap jobs with anyone. There are whole months at a time when my head is so full of ideas that I wake in the middle of the night and lie in the dark telling myself stories. There are also long dark nights when I just know I’ll never write another word, I’m finished, empty, a husk. . . . Oh dear, yes, twitch, yawn, how I’ve suffered insomnia for my art.

I write at a desk which wraps itself round 2 walls of my studio. This desk is a complete tip–littered with paper, manuscript clips, pens, unpaid bills, bits of computer paraphenalia, a massive desk diary, two laptops, a cardboard cut-out of one of my picture-book characters, a tax demand, drawings, notes, photos of castles on the West coast of Scotland and postcards of lighthouses. When I’m illustrating books rather than writing them, I move to a drawing board tucked in a corner on the other side of my studio, a space that is far tidier, a space where I sit surrounded by preparatory character drawings in pencil and watercolour on one wall, and heaps of photos of my five children on the other.

Nowadays I have a fairly good idea of who I am, and I’m no longer bored, stuck between childhood and adolescence, waiting for my life to begin. I still read a lot; the mirror of words still has many things to show me. But now I’m the mother, cooking in the kitchen, and my children, and other people’s children are the ones falling into the world of words. And guess what? Some of those words are mine.



"Mary Poppins meets the Addams Family in a nonstop farce.”—Kirkus Reviews, Starred

“Filled to bursting with an eccentric cast of characters, this extravagant tale combines magic, mafiaesque villainy, mythical beasts, foible-filled humans, and humor into a mixture that will appeal to fans of Diana Wynne Jones, J. K. Rowling and even Lemony Snicket. . . . Pure dead fun.”—School Library Journal

“Should Lemony Snicket grow a bit stale, here’s the perfect antidote.”—Kirkus Reviews, Starred


“Plainly channeling Roald Dahl and Charles Addams through her own uniquely wacky sense of humor, Gliori dishes up as a successor to Pure Dead Magic an equally barbed, sidesplitting farce. . . . [A] pedal-to-the-metal page turner.”—Kirkus Reviews

“The story will make children roar with laughter. . . . This installment will not disappoint.”—School Library Journal

Author Bookshelf

Goodnight, Baby Bat!

By: Debi Gliori

Baby Bat is full of beans and he does NOT want to go to bed. At least not until Snail, Caterpillar, Spider and the Moon are tucked in and he thinks the whole world is sleeping.

Will Mummy Bat ever get Baby...

Pure Dead Batty

By: Debi Gliori

Autumn has come to StregaSchloss, and as the days grow dark, an even darker depression has come over the Strega-Borgia family. Ever since the disappearance of their beloved nanny, Mrs. McLachlan, nothing has been...

Pure Dead Brilliant

By: Debi Gliori

There’s trouble brewing at StregaSchloss!

When Signora Strega-Borgia invites some would-be witches to stay, weird things begin to happen. Pandora can’t resist the temptation of time travel....

Pure Dead Frozen

By: Debi Gliori

As usual, the Strega-Borgia family can't seem to get a break:

They've just welcomed a newborn boy Strega-Borgia into the world, but before they can give him a name, he's snatched and replaced with a demon...

Pure Dead Magic

By: Debi Gliori

Things are not right at the Strega-Borgia castle. Signor Luciano Strega-Borgia has been kidnapped. Signora Baci Strega-Borgia is struggling with her spells at the Advanced Witchcraft Institute.Titus and Pandora...

Pure Dead Trouble

By: Debi Gliori

After a vacation in Italy, the Strega-Borgia clan arrives home to a shocking discovery: their faithful butler Latch lying comatose on the front doorstep, reeking faintly of sulphur. Horrified and troubled, Titus and Pandora...

Pure Dead Wicked

By: Debi Gliori

Just when the Strega-Borgias think it’s safe to relax in their ancestral castle . . . it isn’t.
First their roof collapses, forcing them into the Auchenlochtermuchty Arms–the only...

Witch Baby and Me

By: Debi Gliori

Lily is 9. Her sister, Daisy, is 1. But she's no ordinary baby. Somehow, when she was born, something went wrong. And now Daisy is a Witch Baby. Nobody knows this but Lily. She's the only one sho can see when...

Witch Baby and Me at School

By: Debi Gliori

Lily’s baby sister, Daisy, is a Witch Baby! The sisters have recently settled into their new home and now it’s time for Lily to start at her new school. Can she survive being the new girl?...

Witch Baby and Me After Dark

By: Debi Gliori

More fabulous chaos from Lily and her baby sister, Daisy — the Witch Baby — in this sparklingly gross and funny series packed with wonderfully wacky characters and crazy goings on.

Witch Baby and Me On Stage

By: Debi Gliori

It’s coming up to Witch Baby Daisy’s second birthday. Her nursery class is putting on a musical performance, helped by the older children, including big sister Lily. Meanwhile Mum is trying...

Nursery Rhymes

By: Debi Gliori

Bedtime Stories

By: Debi Gliori

Debi Gliori's Bedtime Stories

By: Debi Gliori

Following on the success of The DK Book of Nursery Rhymes, Debi Gliori has applied her wit and paintbrush to familiar bedtime tales such as "The Little Red Hen," "The Lion and the Mouse," and eight other...

The Scariest Thing of All

By: Debi Gliori

What's The Time, Mr. Wolf?

By: Debi Gliori

Dragon's Extraordinary Egg

By: Debi Gliori

The Trouble with Dragons

By: Debi Gliori

What's the Time Mr. Wolf?

By: Debi Gliori

What's the Time Mr Wolf?

By: Debi Gliori

Dragon Loves Penguin

By: Debi Gliori

Alfie in the Garden

By: Debi Gliori

Alfie in the Bath

By: Debi Gliori

The second picture book about Alfie, the little rabbit with the BIG imagination. A gatefold page takes Alfie on a magical deep-sea adventure at bathtime.
     Alfie Rabbit is splashing...