When I Was Little is a new series where we interview the theatre-makers and creatives who bring magic to our stages, and wonder to our little ones.
Not everyone is just one thing. Take Graham Hosking. By day, he investigates insurance claims; by night, he is the genius creator of Sidney Opera Mouse – the little mouse with big dreams. We spoke to the English author about what his big dreams were when he was little, and what he might tell his young self all these years later.
Tell us a little bit about Sidney Opera Mouse...
Sidney Opera Mouse tells the story of a little mouse Sidney who has dreams of becoming a singer. He is trapped in a pet shop until one day he has the opportunity to escape and follow his dreams. His adventures take him across Sydney until he finds the place where he is destined to belong.
Click to play Sidney Opera Mouse read by Zindzi Okenyo
Watch Zindzi Okenyo read Sidney Opera Mouse written by Graham Hosking and illustrated by Inky Stone, as part of Sydney Opera House's Footlights & Booklights series – with special thanks to Sydney Opera House Major Partner – Mastercard.
How did you come up with the idea for the book?
I was out walking with friends and as we were looking back towards the city an idea popped into my head about a character named Sidney Opera Mouse. I imagined him exploring the city, travelling on a ferry and eventually becoming a star at the Opera House. I mentioned the idea to another friend a few days later and he encouraged me to have a go at writing it. After I started, I really enjoyed the process and after much work I had something that I thought the Opera House may be interested in reading. My friend put me in contact with the licensing team at the Opera House and it went from there.
How do you feel about it being brought to life?
It is humbling to have had so many talented people come together to bring my story to life. From the animation, the lighting, music and character voices… They have done a fantastic job. I am grateful to Mastercard and the Sydney Opera House for making all this possible.
It is strange to think that a few years ago all I had was an idea. Now I have an actual book out in the world. Seeing that book being brought to life is just another step on a very surreal journey.
Author and creator Graham Hosking holding Sidney Opera Mouse. Image: Prudence Upton
What books did you read as a child?
My favourite author was Roald Dahl. His books were full of quirky characters that really captured my imagination. I was also a big fan of Allan Ahlberg.
“It’s important for both children and adults to keep dreaming, try new things and take on challenges. You may surprise yourself and find a new talent you never knew you had.”
What have you taken away from the process of writing and publishing the book?
It has been rewarding to learn new skills. It was a long and challenging project but I am very happy with how it turned out.
The process reminded me how much I enjoy being creative. Since finishing Sidney I have written a few other stories. They are working drafts at present but hopefully one day they will be out in the world. I hope this isn’t the last book from me or Sidney.
What is your earliest memory of watching live performance as a child?
I grew up in England where my school would occasionally arrange trips to the pantomime and theatre. My earliest memory of performance, however, is probably when my family visited London to watch the Andrew Lloyd Webber musical Starlight Express. It had catchy songs and was very high energy as all the performers wore roller skates.
There is something very special about watching live performance. Watching live music is now one of my favourite things to do.
What did you want to be when you grew up?
My dream job would have been a professional soccer player or cricketer, but sadly I never quite had the talent. Writing is something that I have stumbled upon later in life. But now I have started I fully intend on continuing.
Sidney Opera Mouse on a staircase in the Opera House. Image: Prudence Upton.
Does what you do as an adult allow you to stay true to your childhood dreams?
My day job involves investigating insurance claims! It may not sound exciting to everyone but I get to meet a lot of interesting people and the work is varied.
Whilst I enjoy my job, it has been fun doing something completely different and more creative. I think it’s important for both children and adults to keep dreaming, try new things and take on challenges. You may surprise yourself and find a new talent you never knew you had.
If you could tell your 5 year old self something, what would you say?
Have fun and read more often.
You can find out more about Sidney’s full adventure in his very own book available to purchase at the Sydney Opera House shop online or in store.
Special offer: Purchase online using your Mastercard and save 20%* Just click here and add the voucher code MASTERCARD20 when prompted at the checkout.
*Offer valid only on Sidney Opera Mouse book when purchased using your Mastercard. Valid for a limited time only. Not to be used in conjunction with any other offer.
With special thanks to Sydney Opera House Major Partner
Mastercard and Priceless are registered trademarks, and the circles design is a trademark of Mastercard International Incorporated. @2020 Mastercard.
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