Matt Sewell is the author and illustrator of the new children's book Forgotten Beasts: Amazing Creatures That Once Roamed the Earth. His other books include The Colorful World of Dinosaurs. His work has appeared in a variety of publications and locations, including The Guardian. He lives in Shrewsbury, UK.
Q: How did you come up with the idea for Forgotten Beasts, and how did you choose the beasts to include?
A: I came up with the idea for the book whilst actually working on my previous book before this, The Colourful World of Dinosaurs. During my research I kept coming across loads of weird and wonderful beasts that I’d never heard of from our prehistory, but as they weren’t dinosaurs I couldn’t include them. So I approached my publishers with a new list and it seemed to make the perfect follow up to Dinosaurs.
Q: How did you research the book, and did you learn anything that especially surprised you?
A: I had made a list whilst working on Dinosaurs and had lots of personal favourites but to go deeper I trawled through lots of websites and books. I was particularly surprised to find out about the very cute Pygmy Mammoth that lived on the Californian coast that was only five and a half feet tall.
Q: Of all the creatures you include in the book, do you have any favorites?
A: I have loads, the huge non-flying owl Ornimegalonyx, the mega-monster crocodile granddaddy from hell the Sarasuchus, and the round and cute Glyptodon.
Q: What do you hope kids take away from the book?
A: That there is more to prehistory than dinosaurs and even in our own near history there is so much to nature that is not that well known to us. Also with the threat of climate change we need to be ever so mindful of how humans are treating our planet - we don’t want to join the list of forgotten beasts.
Q: What are you working on now?
A: Currently I have been in the studio experimenting and working on lots of paintings and drawings for upcoming exhibitions. I am also getting ready for the release of my next book, The Atlas of Amazing Birds, which is out soon.
Q: Anything else we should know?
A: Me and my two girls have just made a sweet-dispensing robot out of cardboard boxes and without them realising I have eaten loads of sweets and feel a bit sick. Ha!
--Interview with Deborah Kalb