I feel so blessed to be able to bring some magic to the formative years of children’s lives in birthing book characters into the world. Every book I have created the illustrations for feels like one of my children and I refer to them as ‘my babies’.
Once I have read the story, if my imagination gets ignited with images as I read and I feel a rush of excitement, I know it’s a book I am meant to illustrate!
The process of birthing characters and illustrations is very much a labour of love and takes many months of dedicated hard work, copious cups of green tea and lots and lots of chocolate.
I also sing my heart out as I create, to endless different music that helps oil the cogs of my creativity and keep the momentum of colourful characters spilling out onto the page. Sometimes I working very late into the night.
Many of my books have hidden elements, little magical things tucked away on one page or another, as I still recall now the magic of hidden elements in the picture books I grew up with and so I hope to capture that same magic in the books I create.
I hope that every ounce of love that goes into the process fills story time with some magic and that perhaps, if you listen very closely, you might hear the songs that helped bring the characters to life on the page.
Rather appropriately, I gave birth to the illustrations for my first book~baby The Wonky Donkey, in a converted stable, in New Zealand! I was very nervous, illustrating my first ever book, published in October 2009. By December of the same year Wonky had gone for a record 6 reprints and become a number one bestselling hit in both Australia and New Zealand. For a 3~legged, one~eyed ass, with a flatulence issue, he’s proved to be quite clever, winning the acclaimed NZ Post Children’s Choice award in March of 2010, and being winner and finalist of other awards, he proves that you can get pretty far without the physical attributes that most others have and still be a runaway success!
My second book, The Fidgety Itch, is a lovely story about co-operation and friends helping each other out. Each animal gets a mysterious itch and has to find a friend to help scratch it, until there are no more animals left to help and they have to work out how to all itch and get scratched at the same time! When I read the story I wondered WHAT might be making them itch, as there was no mention of the culprit…so, thanks t the help of my wonderful retired teacher Clark saying “BUT WHO’S MAKING THEM ITCH?!” I invented the character ‘Mostin The Skitoe’, who can be spotted quietly hiding on most of the pages!
With only a fortnight after finishing the illustrations for The Fidgety Itch, I started on Willbee The Bumblebee, I felt like a bit of a Hermit on a illustrating, buzzing marathon! I almost forgot there was an outside world with a dear friend doing my shopping and buying me pies from the local shop while I gave birth to our buzzy friends at the drawing board in my little converted stable. This book is about the ones in our life that love us no matter what, and caring friends who appear just at the right moment to save the day. Little Willbee’s adventure in the garden takes an unexpected turn for the worse, but he finds he is not as alone as he first thought.
While birthing this baby at my New Zealand drawing board, a huge earthquake struck as I was working on the page that followed mention of a ‘catastrophe!’
Two weeks later I’d moved to Australia to start a new life and completed the book there. All we know from the words, is that there’s a character who’s lost his front teeth, and is wishing for them back. I first imagined a chicken as the main character, but as I played with ideas, it seemed ‘Derek the monkey’ was determined to be born. His friend and companion Arthur the (very toothy!) snail was also born on the pages of my sketchbook to be alongside him in the book mirroring his experiences and keeping him company.
Seesaw Po was a very exciting book to illustrate as I had been a big fan of Kyle Mewburn’s children’s books and nearly fell off my chair when I was offered this lovely story of his to illustrate! It was fun to combine the humour of his succinct text with my own playful take on the whimsical array of characters. We follow the friends around the playground, from the swing to the slide, the roundabout to the seesaw, always leaving Po the hippo behind, as he just won’t fit! There’s a lovely positive twist to this story, as Po’s kindness at the beginning is rewarded at the end in an unexpected way, which made this a heartwarming fun book to illustrate.
This interactive 3D fold-out House was a whole new experience to illustrate as a lot of the illustrations were to become 3D fold-out furnishings, thanks to the input of amazing paper engineer Phillip Fickling, as part of Wonky’s house. The House was so much fun to illustrate, as was dreaming up all the things that Wonky might have in his home, such as a framed picture of a donkey-ette, pin-the-hoof-on-the donkey, hoof-like additions to the furniture and a stirrup for a toilet flush. The whole house folds out, as do the furnishings and it includes 2 sheets of stickers to make Wonky’s home feel welcoming!
My 7th book baby, and another fabulous story of Lucy’s with a truly wonderful array of characters to bring to life, including a curious character by the swamp, who MAY be best avoided! A story of meeting and making friends, meeting danger, and working together to get through it all, with a dose of luck (*Phew!*) in the mix too! (Watch out, this book may tickle your nose, and make you…Ah~CHoO!!).