Q & A
Where are you based?
Predominantly working from my home studio in Staffordshire. I try to carry a pencil and sketchbook with me everywhere as I am a self confessed doodler! There is also always a notebook on my bedside table as quite often verses for my next story will come to me as I am falling to sleep.
Who would you invite to your dream dinner party?
Hands down Sir Billy Connelly! Fascinating, brilliant, and funny man who also loves art! What more could you ask?
What would your superpower be?
Well, it would have to be to fly! I used to have dreams of this as a child and that feeling of weightlessness would be amazing. It would also be great to look down from a higher place, be nosy and get inspiration for future stories!
What was the last book you read for fun?
That’s a tricky one as I’m usually reading a few at the same time but the last book I finished was ‘The Giver of Stars’ by JoJo Moyes. It’s a wonderful story that is based around a mobile library run by women. I do love all kinds of books though and I particularly enjoy reading to my children. My eldest son has not long completed the Harry Potter books. I loved reading these all again with him.
Is there any author or illustrator you follow or admire?
Absolutely, there’s quite a few! I’ve always been a massive fan of Quentin Blake. The energy in his sketches is just magic. I also love Helen Stephens (Fleabag) and the way she colour and sketch, so fun but can also convey heart. Her storytelling is wonderful too.
Another author and a recent favourite of mine is Rhiannon Fielding. My little ones love her 10 minutes to bed books and as an adult they’re wonderful to read!
What are your hobbies?
I enjoy spending time in nature and going for walks. I love reading and sewing… my university degree was in contour fashion. I feel a particular pull to the sea so try to visit the coast as often as possible. I also adore films, all genre but I hold a special place in my heart for the timeless cinema of the 1950’s including Singing in the Rain and Calamity Jane to name just a couple. I remember watching many of these as a child at my grandparents’ house and my mom is a big fan of Doris Day.
What makes you uncomfortable?
Inconsiderate people. I was bought up to treat people as you wish to be treated in return and that kindness is a quality that is free to all.
Where do you see yourself in five years' time?
I try to focus on the present and live in the moment but if I could choose anywhere, it would be among my loved ones and happy… wherever that transpires to be is good for me.
What would you most like to wear to a fancy dress party?
Oh, I’ve been quite a few characters in the past from Cruella De Vil to the King Kong’s damsel with a massive furry hand wrapped round my middle but I think it would be fun to go as something a little wacky like Saucepan man or Moon-face from Enid Blyton’s Magic Faraway Tree.
What gets you up in the morning?
Usually my youngest child climbing in to bed however on the rare occasion that I get a lie in, then it would have to be a good cuppa.
How do you start a project?
With writing, it begins with a few words or sentences that I’ve jotted down in my bedside journal or added into the notes on my phone. Sometimes these can sit there for a while waiting to evolve into a story. Also, my children provide a lot of inspiration with the things they say and the way in which they see the world. These little snippets of ideas can come at the most unexpected times.
With illustrating, it begins with rereading the words and highlighting ones that jump from the page… I tend to scribble images as much as write words, so I guess the ideas start at a very early stage. Storyboarding is then key to getting going.
When do you know a project is finished?
This is a leap of faith and there are various stages but with writing I usually feel like it’s good to go once it’s worked into the book alongside the illustrations. The stages prior to this have their own finalisation like first draft (when I think I’m ready for someone else to read - eek), editing (where it gets passed around for fresh eyes and professional advice – double eek) and then words as visuals (where it comes together to work with the imagery as well as tell a story – and go get another cuppa).
What type of design work do you enjoy the most: traditional or digital? Why?
I do love both traditional methods of illustration and digital and find I tend to use both if I’m honest. Most illustrations will begin with a pencil, paintbrush and paper but then get passed over to digital when it comes to playing around with images with words.
I’ve not long discovered Procreate and I love to digitally doodle on my iPad with it when I feel a little creatively flat.
How do you overcome a creative block?
I find you can’t force creativity, but you can help it along. I think taking a break in the fresh air helps or if its something I’m banging my head against then I move onto a different project for a little while... I find gaining a little head space or changing focus for a bit does the trick. Also picking a pencil up and doodling is as good a remedy as any in most cases.
Have you started writing and/or illustrating your next book?
I actually have a couple that I’m working on and then a few prompts that I’ve started in addition in my notebook.
If you'd like to know more about me and my work, please don't hesitate to get in touch!