Anders Sparring & Per Gustavsson

The Pinchers and the Diamond Heist
Anders Sparring & Per Gustavsson

About Author

Anders Sparring writes children’s books and is a screenwriter for many popular television shows.  He is also a stand-up comedian.

Per Gustavsson is an illustrator and author living in Stockholm, Sweden. His bestselling books are translated into several languages




The Pinchers  (Gecko Press)

April 2024

In the world of the Pinchers, being bad is good. When you live with a family of burglars, life can become very difficult if you can't lie....  We chatted with author Anders Sparring and illustrator Per Gustavsson about villains, diamond heists and family, in the first book in The Pinchers series, The Diamond Heist!


Q&A with Anders Sparring & Per Gustavsson

"As a child I was a lot like Theo. I never lied or, God forbid, stole anything. So I think putting myself into
a family of villains was my true inspiration for the stories about the Pinchers."

1.   Can you tell us a little about yourselves, your everyday lives, and what got you writing and illustrating for children?

Anders:   I live in Stockholm with my wife, three (adult) children and two dogs. I've been writing for children since 1999. At first as a scriptwriter for television, then when my second child was born, in 2004, I started to write stories. I sat in the kitchen at night in our small apartment and worked on a story that was eventually published in 2012. Since then I have split my professional personality in two: the scriptwriter who writes funny TV-shows for children (and sometimes for adults), and the author who creates books like The Pinchers. Long before I started writing, I worked in a day care unit for small children. During this work I learned how to communicate with young people - and found out I was quite good at it.

Per:   I live in Stockholm, Sweden. I'm an illustrator/author who has been creating books and illustrations for almost 35 years. Often I write and illustrate my own stories but I really like the collaboration with an author. Working with people stimulates my own creativity. I work with illustrated books because that it is the way I express myself, the way I investigate my own thoughts and feelings. I simply like the combination of pictures and words.

2.    What kinds of stories do you enjoy creating? Do you create many books together?

Anders:   Fun stories. I want to create stories that make readers laugh. (My dream is to write stories that could be compared to the great Roald Dahl, who is one of the greatest of all time.)   Just this spring Per and I published a new book in Sweden, We Are Pirates - a picture book for younger children. I hope we will continue to work together on various projects.

Per:   I don't really know where my stories come from. They can start with a sentence that keeps coming back - I need to figure out the meaning of it. Who is saying this and why?  One of my books started when my daughter told me about what she really wanted to elephant, a butterfly... Sometimes a story starts with things that I think about in daily life. Questions about how it is to be human. Anders and I started working together eight years ago when we began the books about the Pincher family, and now our first picture book, We Are Pirates, is being published in Sweden.

3.     What happens in this story about a family of thieves - with the exception of one child who won't lie or steal. 

Per:   We were asked by our Swedish publisher to start a new book series. We sat down in a cafe with our editor and started talking. At that time in Sweden there were a lot of books about kids solving crimes. We were pretty sure that that niche was filled. But what about kids committing crimes? What about a story with a whole family of thieves?? We started laughing and suddenly there were a lot of ideas about how a world according to the Pinchers might look.

Anders:  As a child I was a lot like Theo. I never lied or, God forbid, stole anything. So I think putting myself into a family of villains was my true inspiration for the stories about the Pinchers.

4.    How do you work on your books together?

Per:   It usually starts with Anders coming up with an idea or a situation. Usually we talk a lot about the idea. What would happen if we do this, what would happen if we do that? After discussion, Anders continues to write the story. When there is a beginning and an end, I start making sketches. Sometimes I can replace a lot of the text with a picture.

Anders:    Often I change EVERYTHING during the course of writing. If I have written anything I am particularly happy with, I call Per on the phone and read it to him - just to try it out on someone I have faith in.

5.    The story is very warm but what also makes it so funny? What's the secret to writing funny books for children? Do you look for funny things in your own lives?

Per:   I think what makes it funny is that the world of the Pinchers is upside down. They express ideas and ways of life that are the opposite of our own. It's a little forbidden to talk about stealing things. I think humour is important. Not only in books but in life generally. Looking at things with a sense of humour makes life easier. Humour is a way to make people relax and open up.

I don't know if I have any secrets about writing funny books. When I use humour in my own books, I assume that we humans are quite similar. What I laugh at, others also laugh at. Both big and small things.

Anders:    The secret is to create good characters and situations that put these characters outside their comfort zone.

6.    How did you decide what each of the characters would look like, and how do you create the images in the book?

Per:    I don't really remember how I decided the look of the characters. What I do remember is the outfits. I wanted them to wear striped clothes, just like the ones prisoners wore ages ago. I thought it would be funny if readers could immediately see who the thieves were.

When I draw, I work with an ordinary pencil. When the drawing is done, I scan it and work on the rest of the image on the computer.

7.    Do you have a favourite character, or one you identify with most?

Anders:    Theo Pincher. I AM THEO.

Per:    My favourite is Rob Pincher - Theo's father. I like how he makes his way through windows and walls. Always with his beloved crowbar in his hand.

8.    Other than a great adventure, what do you hope children will take from the story?

Anders:   I hope that children who read our books will develop an understanding for people who are not exactly like themselves.

Per:    I want them to think about the same things I think of: How does it feel to be different? What is wrong and what is right? Is a lie always a bad thing? And of course I want the children to take part in an adventure and have some laughs.

9.    What else do you have planned for The Pinchers - will there be more books?

Per:   There will definitely be more books! We're about to start a new one with the story beginning on Christmas Eve. Grandma starts telling the kids about the long and winding history of the Pincher family, many many years ago…

10.    What kinds of things do you enjoy doing when you're looking for inspiration, and to relax?

Anders:    I read a lot. I also enjoy playing with my dogs (the youngest is only three months old). I watch a lot of football on TV, and occasionally go to London with my youngest son to watch Tottenham play.

Per:    Music has always been a big part of my life. I listen to a lot of music and sometimes create music of my own. It's a big inspiration to me. I also like to hang out with friends. Anders and I sometimes go and watch a good game of ice hockey.

Author's Titles