I'm a Writer, an Artist, a Crafter, a Lover, a Mother and a Cat Slave. I have an obsession with Dragons and adore all kinds of animals...but not spiders - I appreciate them, I just don't adore them... (which might be why they turn up in my illustrations so much.) My whole family has a strong creative streak - my mother just finished a Fine Art Degree, my sister is in the middle of one and my Dad is a Woodcrafter and designs various computer graphics.
My Lifemate is an Artist & Illustrator as well, so it's no surprise that our children are just as creative as us - my oldest son is into Photography and Cooking, my oldest daughter will be doing Fine Art and Textiles for her GCSEs, my younger daughter loves to sing, dance, perform and draw... the baby is too young to know what he'll do yet, but I can't wait to see what he does!
I love reading Fantasy and Science Fiction Fantasy - they tend to be the genres that I write in, but I dabbled in Horror when I first started getting published and that has a tendency to creep into my other stories. I have to really concentrate to make sure that it doesn't appear in my children's books - mild peril is as far as I'll go in them... and Spiders seem to turn up in them too.
Art and Design is my other passion. I'm a Design Technology Teacher by training and my degree was in Design, Technology and Business; I've always loved designing and making things, teaching it is a way of being able to enjoy my day job. I specialise in Jewellery Design & Silverworking as well as Illustration/Graphics, but I also work in Textiles and small scale Sculpture.
Approaching this sketchbook was different to the ones that I normally do - those are filled with designs, lists, WIP's, doodles... this time I wanted it to actually mean something to whoever was looking at it. I wanted it to entertain whoever was looking through it and the theme of Underwater fitted with a vague idea that I'd had knocking around in my mind for The Land Far Away.
So I drew on all of my creativity and imagination... and a story began to make itself known to me. It's going to take a while to reveal the entire tale (along with the illustrations on the pages) but bear with me - the best stories are the ones that take time to write!
The sketches I do are how I communicate my ideas on what characters look like etc with the Series Illustrator, Maria Kuroshchepova. She takes them and refines them in her own visual voice, before formatting and publishing can take place.
I've been so lucky to get to work with her on this series as she's not only got a day job, but she also writes Science Fiction, translates Ukrainian and Russian literature and has various charitable concerns to work on... she's also a superb cook (she's written a cookbook recently) with a husband and a pack of Cats and Dogs to look after. It's a wonder that she gets any time to do anything else.
The story ended up being a lot longer than I originally anticipated, so page 27 is as far as it goes (I promise that I'll finish it and publish it eventually - keep your eyes open for it) but the final few pages contain a selection of character designs from the other books in The Land Far Away World and a note about the world; how it got started and published.
Watercolour Pencil, Pencil and Ink are my favourite medium and the one that I tend to default to when I am working on a children's story. I storyboard and do character designs for each story - I'd love to produce an animation eventually, but that's going to be a long way in the future; I have a lot of work to do before I can be confident enough to make one.
I hope that everyone who looks through my sketchbook enjoys it and if it inspires them to create something themselves, then I will count it a success.
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