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The Grouse and the Mouse Book Launch

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Earlier this month I launched my new picture book ‘The Grouse and the Mouse’, illustrated by Kirsteen Harris-Jones. Here are the highlights of the launch thanks to photographer Chris Scott (and to all of you who tweeted your own pictures too!).

We arrived at the venue to discover these amazing birds were already waiting for us:

Eyebrows were painted red, just like Bagpipe the black grouse by Katie Smith. Katie is the friend who the book is dedicated too – read more about that here:
The Grouse and the Mouse launch

My lovely editor Eleanor Collins introduced the evening:
The Grouse and the Mouse launch
I introduced the audience to the characters from the story, Squeaker the wood mouse, Bagpipe the black grouse and also some of the minor characters – this is the fox from the story:

The Grouse and the Mouse launch

I had some help to demonstrate how camouflage works:

The Grouse and the Mouse launch

The Grouse and the Mouse launch

I introduced the highland cow from the story, MacMoo with a true of false quiz:
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Most of the audience think what I’m saying to them is MacMoo True:
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But this statement is definitely Poo False:
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Then it was time for the story with actions (Squelch Squelch):
The Grouse and the Mouse launchRound of applause from a lovely audience: The Grouse and the Mouse launch

And then it was a Q and A hosted by poet and friend (with red eyebrows) Elspeth Murray:
The Grouse and the Mouse launchThanks to everyone who asked questions: The Grouse and the Mouse launch

And there were lots of thank yous to be said:
The Grouse and the Mouse launch

And then it was book signing, I got to meet my illustrator Kirsteen Harris-Jones for the first time that night too! We signed books together:
The Grouse and the Mouse launch

Here are some of my favourite tweets about the event:

Huge thanks to everyone who came along and made the evening so lovely! Special thanks to the children, seeing your reaction and enthusiasm for the book made my night.

Thanks to photographer Chris Scott for these wonderful photos. You can see more photos in the album from the book launch here

The Grouse and the Mouse is published by Floris Books in the Picture Kelpies range. It is for sale now at all good book stores. Help your local independent book store by buying it online from the Hive. If you enjoyed it, please review it on Amazon! You might also enjoy ‘Can’t Dance Cameron: A Scottish Capercaillie Story‘.

 

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Ready to Launch

Tomorrow I launch my second picture book, The Grouse and the Mouse:

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I don’t want to say to much about the story in case you’re coming tomorrow, so for now I’ll just share the text from the back cover:

back cover

Today I’ve felt pretty nervous, I went for a swim earlier to try to swim off my nervous energy. That helped a bit. My friend Katie arrived later today, that helped a lot! This is Katie:

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She’s the friend I’ve dedicated the book to. She cried when she first read the book (in a good way). The Grouse (Bagpipe) thinks he knows what’s best for the Mouse (Squeaker) and keeps trying to get him to change the way he’s doing things

“It must be awful to have such a bendy tail, you need a stick to straighten it out”

and so on. But he’s looking at things from a grouse perspective and his advice isn’t right for a mouse. Squeaker, thankfully, is happy with the way he is. He’s confident enough not to let his friend’s strong opinions persuade him to be anything he’s not.

I’ve not always been confident enough to stand up for myself like that, I’ve found myself being shaped by other people’s opinions (especially people that matter to me) but to the point where I’m not being me. Which isn’t good! It’s something I’m working on – I guess I’m trying to be more like Squeaker the wood mouse. And that’s a journey Katie has been on too, she’d been becoming more and more like Squeaker so that’s why I’ve dedicated the book to her.

Earlier today the stickers arrived, they’re to remind everyone to ‘Be yourself’

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Stickers via schoolstickers.com

I’m more or less ready for tomorrow. My presentation includes Laurie Campbell’s beautiful wildlife photos, here’s a sneak preview of one of them:

Black Grouse (Tetrao tetrix) male displaying at lek in late snowfall, Spey Valley, Speyside, Cairngorms National Park, Scotland, April 2002

Black Grouse (Tetrao tetrix) male displaying at lek in late snowfall, Spey Valley, Speyside, Cairngorms National Park, Scotland, April 2002

And I’m excited to be using this piece of audio at the launch too – Martin Garnett’s black grouse recording. They sound quite spooky don’t they?:

(click the orange play button)

There will be a chance to get your eyebrows done in grouse red or any other colour you like. And there will be wine and nibbles and black grouse style bum wiggling and an opportunity to hear the story. The illustrator, Kirsteen Harris-Jones is coming too so you can get your book signed by her and me. Hopefully see you there!

If you don’t have your ticket already, get one here.

 
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Posted by on July 15, 2015 in Education, Events, Media, nature, Science, Writing

 

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What I learned on Retreat

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I’m back in Edinburgh after a month writing in Italy. In a week’s time I launch my second picture book, The Grouse and the Mouse. I’m moving house the following weekend. So I’ve gone from having no urgent agenda to having a long and urgent to do list. It feels a bit overwhelming. So I thought I’d write about my retreat to try to take some of the lessons learned back to everyday life.

What were the best things about being on retreat?

1) Time to reflect

Sometimes we’re so busy doing things, we forget to look up and think. Here’s some cherries I spotted above me on a walk. To remind me to stop and look up.

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2) Wild Swimming

I was with Ali (week two retreat buddy) and we weren’t planning to swim. We were walking along a river through the valley with mountains on either side of us. Every now and then there was a roar of a small waterfall and we trecked through the undergrowth to find it’s source. One of these waterfalls had hollowed out a natural pool – it was so perfect I decided I was going in. Ali said she would come back another day – when she had swimwear. I undressed and spent a while procrastinating – apologising for my too small pants (so I had a builders bum). I sat on a rocky ledge with my feet in the water willing myself to be brave enough to jump. It was freezing. Ali got so bored of me counting to three and not actually jumping that she decided she might as well join me. Also apologising for her not-the-best underwear. And we jumped in. It was amazing – freezing cold followed by that tingling I-am-alive warmth. So this is to remind me to go for it. You might not always have the right clothes (or be ready) but sometimes it’s good to take a leap.

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Read about wild swimming adventures closer to home in Scotland here.

3) Walking in the mountains

There’s something so calming about time and space outside in nature. I know I don’t live in the mountains, I live in Edinburgh but I live by the sea. I can go for walks there. The highlands aren’t far away.

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John Muir says this better than I could:

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(taken from Tales from Our Wild Park)

So this is to remind me to go outside.

4) Retreat buddies

Being creative brings joy and life. But it’s also lonely and scary. The act of creating is taking a risk, the act of sharing it with others puts you in a vulnerable position. But if you don’t take that risk, you won’t get the feedback you need to improve or know if you’re on the right track. So one thing I loved was sharing work on retreat. I shared writing with Sian (week three retreat buddy – that’s me and her below). I enjoyed being useful and constructive and encouraging to her and her feedback helped me massively to work on and improve my work.

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With week two buddy Ali, we swam and walked lots as well as doing some drawing. One afternoon we were walking along a path where a whole load of butterflies were drinking from some puddles. As we walked they took off – around 40 butterflies flying all around us as we passed through their puddles. It was like a film. Here’s one of Ali’s drawing’s from the retreat. It makes me think of moments like the butterflies – the magic of retreat:

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So this is to remind me to not create in isolation, artists need other artists.

5) Food and sunshine

It was also really lovely to have someone to share meals with and we took it in turns to make food for each other. I loved the food – it was all so fresh that everything we cooked tasted amazing! It was lovely to have sunshine too.

What were the worst things about being on retreat?

1) Insects

I got so many bites. They itched. I took pictures but I don’t think you want to see them.

2) Being propositioned

You say you’re not interested and that you have a boyfriend they say “why is he not here?” and “you should finish with him”. You say you need to get on with your work they say “you have been working for three hours already, I have been watching you. When will you stop working and go for a drink with me?!” and so on. It gets very tiring. Especially when you’re on your own and you’re trying to work and they won’t leave your table.

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3) Heat

It was a bit too hot. Like at night in the last week it was too hot to sleep. So that made me less productive in the day.

4) Being cut off

There was wifi every now and then at the cafe in the square. And in some ways – that was great. I was less contactable and this gave me time and space. I wanted to write without the distractions of every day life and work. But there were some proofs for a book that was going to print and it needed to be looked over. And my time slots for the Green Man Festival needed to be finalised. I needed to check in for my flight home. I had to send a list of email addresses for book launch invites to go out. And so on. So when I needed to do something it often took a few days because I was waiting for wifi to work – so I guess not being able to be distracted properly became a distraction.

5) Loneliness

I was on my own week one and week four. I started to find it hard to cope near the end of week one. Partly because of point 2 above and partly because I was trying to deal with a challenging situation in the UK and partly because I was in a village with no-one to talk to in my own language. Here’s one of the stray cats from the village demonstrating how I felt:

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And do you know what I did eventually? I wrote a blog I’d never publish and sent it to a few friends and I told them how I was feeling. I asked if people could say some encouraging things or funny things because I needed cheering up. And they did. I was sent cat photos and dancing videos and emails from people who shared how lonely they’d felt on retreat and cheery texts and words of advise and one friend called me. It was so good to actually speak to someone! And thanks to that and texts and emails, I knew I wasn’t alone and that people cared and it totally cheered me up. And I realised I was really lucky to have such lovely friends and lucky to have an opportunity in a beautiful place to do some writing. So this cat is to remind me, if you’re feeling rubbish and alone it’s okay to ask for help.

Did I get work done?

Yes. I wrote a middle grade novel (for age 6 – 9 years) I first started on retreat two years ago. It’s about an otter who’s an artist. Many of the experiences I had while I was out walking became part of the novel. I also rewrote a couple of picture books I first began six years ago, one about a frog and one about a worm. And I did some sketches for another book I’m writing. And wrote a first draft for a version of sleeping beauty (with cryogenic freezing) that I’ll be performing at Unbound at Edinburgh International Book Festival.

Would I do it all over again?

Yes definitely, but I’d prefer to do it here, in Scotland.

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Posted by on July 10, 2015 in Events, illustration, nature, Writing

 

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The Grouse and the Mouse

I’m super excited to share the front cover of my new picture book ‘The Grouse and the Mouse’ with you!

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‘The Grouse and the Mouse’ will be published on the 16th July. I added a countdown to the side of my blog!

I’m also super excited to let you know I’ll be taking ‘The Grouse and the Mouse’ to the Edinburgh International Book Festival on the 1st September. Here’s my page in the schools programme:

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The Book Festival released their schools programme last week and schools can book tickets now.

I had a lovely time taking my first picture book ‘Can’t Dance Cameron’ to Edinburgh International Book Festival last year so it’s wonderful to have been invited back with my second picture book.

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Thanks to Alan and the team at Loch Lomond and the Trossachs National Park for their help researching black grouse for ‘The Grouse and the Mouse’. I wrote about black grouse in a book for grownups called ‘Tales from our Wild Park‘ so that really helped me to find out more about this iconic Scottish bird as well as giving me a setting for the book.

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Thanks to everyone at Floris Books for their help with ‘The Grouse and the Mouse’, especially to my brilliant editor Eleanor Collins and to Kirsteen Harris-Jones for the illustrations!

Pre-order a copy of ‘The Grouse and the Mouse’ at Waterstones, Amazon or on my personal favourite ethical book store – The Hive

 
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Posted by on May 1, 2015 in Education, Events, nature, Writing

 

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Rockets and Dancing in Dundee

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I’ve been working through in Dundee running science events as part of Dundee Women in Science Festival. On Mother’s Day we ran a Can’t-Dance-Cameron event for under sevens (and Mums!) in the morning. In the afternoon we ran ‘Love you to the Moon and Back’ rockets show and workshop for over sevens / families. Photographer Alan Richardson took some fab pictures at both events. My favourite photos were of the dancing:

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I love the photos that showed the children’s reactions too:

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There’s one of me looking highly uncool with head set and safety goggles:

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And finally the book signing at the end:

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Next up we have the ‘Love you to the Moon and Back’ rockets show and workshop:

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Making and testing rockets for the competition:     WiSF_Fly-Me_to_The_Moon_AR WiSF_Fly-Me_to_The_Moon_AR WiSF_Fly-Me_to_The_Moon_AR WiSF_Fly-Me_to_The_Moon_AR WiSF_Fly-Me_to_The_Moon_AR WiSF_Fly-Me_to_The_Moon_AR

The competition:

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The happy winner:

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And our grand finale, launching a water rocket in City Square:

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The best way to see the rocket launch is via a video:

Evaluation

The drawing of me launching the rocket (and getting wet) was on the back of one of the evaluation forms. My favourite comment on the forms was from the boy who won the rockets competition. When asked what he liked most about the event his answer was:

Winning flowers for my Mum

Big thanks to everyone at Dundee Women in Science Festival and to everyone who came along to the events.

Video: Ana Ranceva. Images: Alan Richardson

 
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Posted by on March 26, 2015 in Education, Events, nature, Science, storytelling

 

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Drawing Again

Are there things you used to love doing as a child but then for some reason, you stopped?

For me it was drawing. I loved to draw and later to paint. I’d forget to eat, I’d spend hours on one picture, I loved building an idea, one line at a time.

Almost First

When I was seven I came second in an art competition with this:

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The judges said the leaves on the drawing were too good for a child of my age and I’d obviously had help. That’s why I wasn’t getting first place. I did the picture in school so my teacher, Mrs Richardson was furious. She hadn’t helped with the leaves. She said that second and an accusation of cheating was a compliment – I should be proud.

Be Careful What You Draw

When I was nine my picture won the Ambergate carnival programme competition. It was printed on the programme cover and on posters all over the village and I was given a T-shirt with my picture on it. I remember drawing the zebra crossing and a few houses out of my head, quickly so it wasn’t very good – it had wobbly lines and I was a little ashamed when it won but I couldn’t say that because it would sound ungrateful and everyone kept congratulating me.

Bananas on the Wall

When I was 14 my art teacher Mr Young put my work up all over the art room and in the corridor at school. I remember feeling embarrassed – a WHOLE WALL of my stuff. And a corridor too. A sort of Emily exhibition. I didn’t know he was going to do it. The rest of the work was the fifth year’s because their work was really good.

I had a banana thing going on at the time. This is a depressed banana in prison in pastel (imagine a person sitting hugging their folded knees) and it was huge, 80cm across:

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And this was Van Gogh’s bedroom with a depressed banana slumped on the chair:

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And bananas in bed:

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So my bananas (there were many more) and four self portraits (we had to do them!) were up all over the school.

A-Level Art

When I was 16, Mr Young tried to find an A-Level to enter my GCSE work into – two years early. He was an A-Level moderator for the county, he said my work was good enough. But all the courses needed an art theory element to A-Level standard. Something I didn’t have. I did do A-Level art the following two years at college. And maths and physics.

Everyone has an Opinion

When I applied for University I had to choose between art and science. People told me science was ‘useful’. That artists are poor. That even the good ones are only appreciated when dead. That art is hugely competitive – it’s unlikely I’d make it. That it’s much easier to do art in your spare time (picture a science shed blowing up in the back garden!). They said science would get me a job. Science was safe.

Nobody said:

The creative industries bring in more money to the UK then any other industry

or

If you’re an artist, you’ll need to create art. Otherwise a part of who you are just won’t exist and you’ll never be fully you or fully happy.

So I chose science. Geophysics – physics for people who like going outside. And I stopped drawing. No I lie, we had to draw rocks in geology and I got told off. The tutor wrote “too artistic’ in red pen on my beautiful diagrams. But apart from that, I didn’t draw.

Fast Forward Fourteen Years:

Last summer I was pitching my second picture book ‘The Grouse and the Mouse’ to my editor. She explained they wouldn’t be working with the illustrator from my last book ‘Can’t-Dance-Cameron: A Scottish Capercaillie Story’. And something strange happened. A still small voice in my head whispered:

You should do it

I internally replied by thinking ‘Don’t be ridiculous! I’m not an illustrator. As if I could do it!’ And that was that.

But ‘You should do it’ was still there. Like a gentle knocking on a door I was refusing to open.

My parents had asked in the past “why aren’t you illustrating your own books?” and I had replied “because I’m not an illustrator. I don’t have an illustration degree. It’s not like it’s easy” and so on. I’d never realistically considered it.

Maybe I could learn?

The ‘you should do it’ thought wouldn’t go away so I started to think maybe I should do a course in illustration. It would be fun. No pressure to be good – just a chance to learn. To ‘do it’ as a hobby.

I looked for short courses at Edinburgh College of Art and at Leith School of Art and on the Council adult education programme. There were NO short courses in illustration.

Ask an Illustrator

I went along to the Edinburgh Literary Salon and found an author-illustrator friend of mine, John Fardell. I explained my background in fine art and that I was looking for courses – was he teaching any, did he know of any? He said:

You don’t need to do a course, just draw

But I don’t have a style (I said). He replied with:

You don’t need a style. Just work and your style is there. It’s how you draw. It’s you.

He also told me about a workshop he was running that weekend at the National Library of Scotland. It was for children over 8. I’m over 8 so I decided to sign up.

Make a Commitment

I kept thinking about what John said. The next day I spoke to a good friend and former writing mentor of mine Elspeth Murray. She does lots of sketching so I suggested we have a sketching date. I told her I’d decided I would start drawing… sometime in the next month. She said:

Emily, why not today?

I made some excuses and hung up. The truth was I was scared. Scared I’d be rubbish. Even more scared I’d become the slightly crazy person I was as a teenager – drawing giant bananas and forgetting to eat. Singing with paint in my hair.

Why Not Today?

And then I realised Elspeth was right. No one need know. There’s a draw under my bed full of art stuff, I never use it but it’s all there – water colours, acrylics, gouach, pastels, paper, pencils. I chose a pencil and a rubber and a pack of pastels. I decided to try drawing a character from my new book – The Grouse and the Mouse. I drew Squeaker the wood mouse:

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It was my first drawing in 14 years and there he was, suddenly alive. I wanted to stroke his little wood mouse head and I felt so happy. I emailed him to friends, to Elspeth and to John and a few others. Like a kid who wants to show everyone their picture. It was a wonderful feeling. And after that I started to draw every day. I drew in bed instead of reading – so I could fit it in.

The course with John Fardell

That weekend I went to the course with John Fardell and the 8 year olds. It was AMAZING. John talked through his process from roughs all the way to finished artwork. He showed us examples at each stage. He talked about how to tell stories through pictures across the page. I learned so much.

Afterwards we all started drawing – the 8 year olds and me. I had a question for John – how do you make a grouse smile when it has a downward beak? I’d tried making the beak turn up instead but it didn’t look right – I mean it didn’t look like a grouse. John explained that Disney bird beaks start the right shape and then turn up at the end – that’s how to give them expression – think Donald Duck. So I tried that and suddenly I had anatomically correct expressive grouse:

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One night soon after that I tried three new ways of drawing Squeaker the wood mouse. I was trying to find my character.  I tried realistic, cute and cartoon:

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Something unexpected happened. I got out of bed and did a little dance. I can’t remember when I last did anything like that. A part of me was back. I felt like a child again. A little bit unhinged but I liked it. Maybe that was me?

I emailed my mouse drawings to John and he told me specifically what was working and what wasn’t (e.g. the first one has a rather long monkey like arm – and he’s too stiff). He was brilliant at balancing praise and encouragement with useful constructive feedback.

Use the Mistakes

I read James Campbell’s Guardian article on how to be an illustrator. Tip nine suggests drawing straight in pen and if you make a mistake just keep going – the mistake becomes part of the picture (rather like life). I tried it and these are the mice I drew:

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No pencil, no rubber. I was getting more confident. I emailed them to John, he especially liked the round one above – he said it was my best yet!

Picture Hooks

I’d heard about an Edinburgh based illustration conference and a mentoring scheme called Picture Hooks. I decided to start working on a submission, the prize was an illustration mentor – I really wanted that. I’d told John I was entering and he’d said he would be happy to advise me on my submission.

I also asked my publishers if I could submit my competition entry to them – would they consider me as an illustrator for The Grouse and the Mouse? They said it was highly unlikely but I could have a go. Mainly because I explained how much I was enjoying doing it and that I wanted the best for the book so if my pictures weren’t good enough I’d be totally happy for them not to use them.

I noticed I was improving every time I drew so I decided to do my picture hooks submission work as last minute as possible. That might sound like a bad plan but I wanted to get as good as I could before I did it.

Deadline Weekend

The deadline was Sunday midnight and I spent all of Saturday on a double page spread. Here’s half way through the day, my messy desk, sketch book and page plan!

20140830_163834Here’s the spread almost finished – it’s A3:

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John advised adding more background so I did that next and added some text.

On the Sunday I started a three page character sequence. I decided to try water colours because that’s what John uses. I spent two hours on one mouse and it was a total disaster:

IMG_20140901_114017It looked like a hunchback. At this point I very nearly gave up. I’d wasted so much time and still had three pages to go. What was I thinking trying a totally new technique? More to the point what was I thinking trying to be an illustrator?

But then I thought of John and that he’d taken the time to feedback on my first double page spread, despite being a busy man so I decided I couldn’t just give up because he believed I could be an illustrator, even if I didn’t.

I planned out a new page:

20140901_134758And started to pastel each bit:

20140901_215127 (2)I got it finished but by then it was around 11pm and I needed to submit at midnight. I did my final page as a quick rough A3 pencil sketch, I drew it in ten minutes:

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I submitted and sent it all to John too. I told him about the disastrous water colour mouse and that I’d considered gin and tonic at that point but that I’d finally got it all done. He said people love to see roughs and that my rough sketch was really good so it had actually strengthened my application. I sent my work to Floris too. Then I waited.

No and No

I got a no from Picture Hooks. It went like this:

Dear Emily

We met recently to consider the entries and it was a tough process as the standard was so high. I am sorry to be writing to inform you that we were unable to include you on the shortlist, even though we enjoyed looking at your work very much.

Emily, we hope that you will understand our thinking. Everyone admired your work and we all felt it had great commercial potential. However, after much discussion, we decided that you didn’t really require the close attention of an illustrator as a mentor for the year. I hope you won’t be disappointed because actually this is an endorsement from us about how good your work already is.You have your own distinctive style and a great track record – have confidence as you are well on your way.

Kind regards

Lucy

I sent it on to John and asked if he thought it was softening the blow? He said he’d had many rejections in his time but this wasn’t one of them. And that I should take it as a compliment.

Soon after I got a No from Floris too. They wanted to use a professional illustrator. I was expecting them to say no so it was okay – I wanted the best for the book and was really happy they were publishing my words for a second time, even if they didn’t want my pictures.

But where did I go now? I was too commercial to need a mentor and not professional enough to get published. I felt stuck.

A Yes and a Yes

But then a lovely thing happened. John said he’d be happy to keep feeding back on my work. So I had a mentor after all. And one who’s already helped me improve so much – someone I respect and love working with.

At the end of last year, I wrote a nonfiction book for Harper Collins and as a result I’m now working with a brilliant literary agent, Lindsey Fraser. She’s one half of Fraser Ross Associates – a children’s specialist literary agents. They work with authors AND illustrators. So now I had an agent too, primarily for my words but if my illustrations get good enough in the future I’d have help to pitch them to publishers.

I took some of my drawings to her for a new book I’ve written about squirrels:

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She gave me some brilliant advice – my writing has humour in it but my illustrations tend to be a picture of the thing – I’m not bringing me or my humour into them. I realised she was right – I was playing it safe by sticking relatively close to a picture of a real animal. Not changing it much. Not daring to use my own imagination. So that’s my next challenge. And I’ve got John and Lindsey to help.

The Future

Just now I’m looking at renting out my flat and moving to the country to help me to reduce living costs. That way I can spend more time writing and drawing. And as for illustration, I’m hoping one day I might get there. One day I might illustrate my own books.

The thing is, even if I don’t, I can still enjoy the process of drawing. I will do little dances of joy because the artist in me has been allowed to come out and play.

My second picture book ‘The Grouse and The Mouse’ comes out later this year, it’s illustrated by the brilliant Kirsteen Harris-Jones.

 
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Posted by on February 22, 2015 in illustration, nature

 

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Kick It Cameron!

Last week, people kept sending me links to a video of this bird:

capercaillie5b

The video was of a dancing capercaillie attacking skiers! It went viral. That same week I got a couple of lovely letters about my much less violent capercaillie children’s book ‘Can’t-Dance-Cameron‘. I wanted to share these things with you.

Firstly, I’m sure you’re dying to see the video:

It reminds me of how important it is to observe nature from a distance! Male capericallies dance during the mating season but they also dance in defense. Sometimes they dance so hard they drop down dead. No joke. And there’s only around 1000 of them left in the wild in Scotland. That’s why we humans shouldn’t get too close. If they waste their energy dancing for us it might just be their last dance.

If you do want to see the phenomena that is a dancing capericaillie you could watch one from inside a bird hide. That way you don’t disturb the bird causing any unnecessary dance moves. I’ve been to RSPB Loch Garten Caperwatch the last three years in a row to try to see a dancing capericaillie. I live tweeted my adventures and even made a wee video about it. Did I see a dancing bird? You can find out here.

Alternatively, to dance like a capericallie without harming any capericallies in the comfort of your own home or school, you could follow the dance moves in Can’t-Dance-Cameron!

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And now, on that lighter and much lovelier note – I’ve received a letter from a Dad and one from a Mum all about just that:

 xxxx had to give a talk in school this week about an object that summed up ‘Scottish identity’. So, he took along his signed copy of ‘Cameron’ and talked for two minutes in front of his P2 class. His teacher said he did really well, and she was delighted to discover the book through him. She read it to the class after his talk and it went down a storm, with all the kids doing the Cameron Boogie at the end. The teacher has ordered a few copies for the school (she said she was struggling to find new books for P2’s with accessible Scottish themes). So, if you are planning a promotional roadshow to local schools any time soon, please include xxxx PS in Musselburgh to the list – you already have an established fan base there!

I just wanted to let you know how much we loved your new book – My daughter was given a signed copy of ‘Can’t Dance Cameron’ for Christmas and I will make sure its kept safe so she can treasure it forever . She loves the book and we read it often and do the dances , we both love the beautiful pictures and the story of the book is very apt for my little late bloomer who took her time to find her groove like Cameron. We can’t wait for other stories to follow x

Writing is sometimes a lonely job – you don’t get much feedback sat at a desk by yourself. So getting letters like these is really one of the loveliest things about being a writer. It’s so great to know you’re making a difference – thanks to the parents who took the time to write them – you totally made my day!

 Image Credit: Laurie Campbell

 
 

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