Morris Gleitzman was born in Sleaford, England, in 1953 and emigrated to Australia in 1969 to become a famous writer. He began his writing career as a screenwriter, and wrote his first children's novel in 1985. His brilliantly comic style has endeared him to children and adults alike, and he is now one of Australia's most successful authors, both internationally and at home.
Before realising that dream, he had a colourful career as paperboy, bottle-shop shelf-stacker, department store Santa Claus, frozen chicken defroster, fashion-design assistant and sugar-mill employee. In between he managed to gain a degree in Professional Writing at the Canberra College of Advanced Education. Later he became the writer for three award-winning seasons of the television series 'The Norman Gunston Show' and also wrote live stage material for people such as Rolf Harris and Pamela Stephenson. But the majority of Morris' accolades are for his hugely popular children's books all of which have been shortlisted for or have won a range of children's book prizes.
Author's Comment: The main reason I wrote [Once] was because although episodes as huge and awful as the Holocaust don't come along all that often, there are many examples of human behaviour that can make us all feel pretty bleak about the world. It's natural to pretend these things don't exist, but pretending isn't going to make them go away – in fact it probably means they'll happen more often, so we have to accept that parts of our world will be grim. But I think it's important to all of us to remember that we're all capable of great stuff and if you see a stranger in the street you might be tempted to think "That person could be a threat to me." And they might. But you also need to remember that person could become the best friend you ever had.
Stories are a really useful way to remind us of that. Now I don't for one minute suggest that young people should go up to strangers on the street to find out if they're going to be friends or not. It is a dangerous world. The great thing about stories is we can do that: we encounter different people in stories and we can make our own decision as to whether they're friends or not. It's all safe - you don't get harmed by stories.
Nationality: British / Australian