Q&A with Big Panda and Tiny Dragon Author James Norbury

This entry was posted on 10 November 2021.

Writer and artist James Norbury began illustrating the adventures of Big Panda and Tiny Dragon, inspired by Buddhist philosophy and spirituality, to share the ideas that have helped him through the most difficult times, in the hope they can help others too.



With this book, and your art as a whole, you’re sharing some of your own lessons in spirituality. Was it straightforward enough to interpret these with painting? Is painting something you’ve always done?

I find drawing the pictures quite straightforward, as it’s something I’ve done since I was small, but creating the text is very difficult. It takes me a long time to come up the idea and then translate what can be a fairly abstract or complex idea into a simple two-line conversation.


You’re inspiring so many people with your work, but where do you find your own inspiration?

I read quite a lot of books on spirituality, which help, but really, most of the ideas come from my own experiences. If I’m feeling what we might call negative, I try to work out why and find the best way for me to help myself. When I come up with an answer (often based on old wisdoms), I think “Right, how can I make that into a picture?”


In what ways do you give to yourself?

I give myself plenty of time off, I am not a workaholic. I also try to be kind to myself and don’t beat myself up too much when I do things wrong. Likewise, I try not to be a perfectionist as that tends to be parlaying, so I allow myself to make mistakes without being self-critical.


Do you have a favourite mantra?

Not as such but I often find the idea of “maybe” to be quite powerful. The idea is that when something happens to you, good or bad, you are not seeing the whole picture. Perhaps you inherit some money and buy a lovely car, then crash it and end up in hospital, or maybe you are sick and can’t go out to dinner, but everyone who did go ended up with food poisoning. These are daft examples, but the principal that you never know how a situation may turn out. It can keep you from going on an emotional roller coaster each time a situation arises.


Big Panda and Tiny Dragon are big tea drinkers; how do you take your tea?

Medium strength with soya milk. I also like jasmine green tea.


I saw that a copy of Big Panda and Tiny Dragon found its way to the Dalai Lama's monastery in India. What’s the most memorable message of thanks that you’ve got from a fan, or best interaction with the book that you’ve observed?

I had a message the other day from a parent who told me her child, who has a serious mental health condition, was relaxed for the first time in ages after reading the book and was able to get to bed calm and happy. I get a lot of really wonderful messages but this one stuck out for me as I had never imaged the book could have such an effect.


Big Panda and Tiny Dragon by James Norbury is out now.



Q&A with The Boy, The Mole, The Fox and The Horse Author Charlie Mackesy



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