Thursday, 28 April 2011
A brand new sketchbook, purchased from the student supplies shop at Cambridge School of Art. White pages, black cover, gold lettering. It's a handsome thing isn't it? But what will go inside?
I find new sketchbooks dreadfully intimidating. To begin with I convince myself that I must fill it with something wonderful and worthy. But eventually I relax and enjoy drawing, and writing, within the rather sombre covers, and worry less about mistakes and disappointments. I have learned that they are part of the process.
In fact I already know what will go inside this one: The new Katie book. The story has now been approved (subject to a bit of editing), and today I begin the roughs for the illustrations. This is the difficult part. The time when all the important decisions regarding design and composition are made. And I have to spend enough time on the roughs to convince my publisher that what I am doing is the right thing. Skimpy roughs don't save time as they very often need to be redone. Although with Katie there is an established sense of trust between myself and my publisher.
I'm truly excited to be at this stage. The story is... a little different to other Katie stories and it will be a lovely thing to illustrate. The title? Katie and the Starry Night. I promise I will regularly post progress here so you can follow the ups and downs of a Katie book's creation.
So off I go... beginning with thumbnail sketches... although my mind is also distracted by the AUTHORS LIVE event, which is exactly two weeks away! Looks like a bit of multi-tasking required...
Tuesday, 26 April 2011
While I am poised to begin the next Katie book, I find my days lately are filled with cake recipies, tracking down vintage china and generally indulging my wife's Country living/Cath Kidston fantasies. For she has gone into business with a friend, and they have set up a company called Buns and Bunting. They offer "Vintage Celebrations", which means bespoke tea parties, vintage china hire, retro delights generally (although the cakes are deliciously fresh!).
Most often they will be found providing splendidly old-fashioned teas at assorted events. They stage everything beautifully, with antique props and really beautiful tablecloths, cutlery, tea-cups, saucers and cake plates (and forks). Even the tea pots are things of loveliness, and the Buns and Bunting girls all dress up in their 'forties (ish) costumes to bring a bit of community togetherness and home-front nostalgia to their events. I have to say they do things brilliantly and work incredibly hard to make everything really special.
It's good to be reminded that sometimes it's important to take time to enjoy tea, cake, good company and beautiful things - like a civilised, grown up tea party. Their next event is at the First Garden City Heritage Museum in Letchworth Garden City on May Day: May 1st. You'll find all the details on their blogsite. So if you are anywhere near Hertfordshire, come along. If you're very lucky I might even make some of my famous Lemon Drizzel Cake!
Thursday, 21 April 2011
With just three weeks before my Authors Live event in Glasgow, I've had the honour of being mentioned by Linda McClelland of the National Gallery in Edinburgh in a special blog piece for the Scottish Book Trust. Linda has been a wonderful supporter and has become a dear friend over the last few years. Her kind words have coincided with my advance copies of "Katie in Scotland". The timing couldn't be better as the book is dedicated to her!
Thank you Linda, for all you have done!
You can read her kind words HERE: http://www.scottishbooktrust.com/blog/teens-young-people/2011/04/linda-mcclelland-james-mayhew-and-the-joy-of-picture-books
Tuesday, 12 April 2011
She's also a bit of a wild cat, and a tiger and bear and selkie and most of all she's also a wonderful friend. I was recently in hospital for an operation, and few days later a mystery parcel arrived from Mr B's Emporium of Books in Bath - a novel combining music and Russia (two of my passions), courtesy of Jackie Morris. What an exceptionally thoughtful thing to do, but I suppose I expected no less from someone who writes and illustrates and paints with such luminous and glorious depth of soul.
Recently her book "Tell me a Dragon" won the Norfolk Children's Book Award, and it's wonderful to see that book in particular getting well deserved recognition. I remember when Jackie was planning it she telephoned me, insecure about it's value. I always encourage her and she always encourages me. I think I'd be lost without that friendship and understanding of the difficulties we both share with our work. And so Jackie went ahead and I like to indulgently think that our conversation at the start was important in the success at the end. But I think it's such a wonderful book it would have taken wing in any case. I hope it sells a million. The book - and Jackie - deserve nothing less!
Saturday, 9 April 2011
Last year I was invited to the Cheltenham Literature Festival, but unfortunately a bout of Tonsilitis meant I had to cancel. Happily I have now been invited to make amends by appearing at the Cheltenham Music Festival 2011. I'll be presenting an Ella Bella Children's Concert with a wonderful live string quartet. They will play arrangements of Tchaikovsky's immortal ballet music and I will tell the stories that inspired the ballets and then illustrate the tales LIVE in time to the music.
It will be simular to the concerts I have given in Hatfield with the De Havilland Philharmonic, only rather more intimate and friendly. The perfect way to introduce kids to Classical Music!
The event takes place on Saturday July 9th at 11am, at the newly opened (and beautiful) Parabola Arts Centre. There are only 300 seats so do book early for this one.
Click HERE for full details...
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