Interview: Author Julia Richman

Julia Richman Interview

I chatted to Jules Richman about writing, her books and future projects. I have had the honour of illustrating two of Julia’s enchanting books and look forward to creating future stories with her.

Celeste: Hello Jules! Congratulations on your latest book ‘A Huddle of Hippos.’ Before we chat about it, can you just tell us a little about yourself?

Jules: Thank you, Celeste! And thank you again for your fantastic illustrations – collective nouns have never been so exciting, vibrant and fun!

I’m Jules Richman. I live in the glorious Mother City (Cape Town) with my husband –  Tim, son – Nicholas, and cat – Katya. Nicholas is 18 months old and loves exploring and being outdoors, so I spend most of my time these days running after him making sure he doesn’t swallow a stone or pull out my pansies…

I love writing colourful stories for children and I also love art, interior design, flowers, food and wine! I am an animal lover and a sensitive soul, in search of kind, caring hearts.

Celeste: Your first book, Katya’s Hairy Tales: The Bacon Chase was published last year. What lead you to try out for children stories? Continue Reading

Interview: Heather Davidson on Self-Publishing

Heather Davidson

I chatted with Heather Davidson, self-publisher of Choo Choo Park. I was so impressed with Heather with what she has managed to accomplish with her children’s book, that I thought it would be great to interview her to pass on knowledge to other self-publishers out there.

Celeste: Hi Heather! Thanks so much for chatting with me today. First of all, congratulations for being an author! Can you tell us a little bit about when you had this idea about writing children’s stories and what inspired you that this was it?

Heather: Hi Celeste, thank you so much for this opportunity to talk about my book. I have always loved reading and writing. I started writing stories for my son, James, when he was about 3 (he’s now 21), he loved them and used to take them to school for his teacher to read. I didn’t have the confidence to try and do anything further with them at that stage of my life. About two years ago now I decided that I wanted to make writing a priority in my life and I happened to come across The Choo Choo Park which I’d written when James attended the Choo Choo Park Playschool. I still loved the story and decided to try and get it published.

Celeste: You decided to self-publish your first book. What kind of research did you do into this before you started? Did you do any courses, or chat to other self-publishers? Did you try publishing your book through regular publishers?

Heather: I did submit The Choo Choo Park to two south African publishers but it wasn’t what they were looking for so I decided to go the self-publishing route. I had heard a lot about self-publishing in writing circles and enrolled for a correspondence course on Self Publishing. I then met Katherine Graham at the Society for Children’s Bookwriters and Illustrators (SCBWI) meetings and she had successfully self-published a number of books. I had many discussions with her and she gave me very valuable advice. I also attended a half-day Self Publishing workshop that she presents. Continue Reading

Interview with Michelle Ainslie – Online Writing Course

south african children books

Celeste: Hi Michelle! First of all, thanks so much for chatting to me. Can you just tell everyone a little about yourself to kick off?

Michelle: Hi Celeste! Thanks so much for having me.  I am a freelance writer and have been in the publishing industry for over a decade now.  I have surrounded myself with authors and books and writing my whole life.  I have recently started to join my 3 passions which are writing, books and depression.  The last bit sounds weird, but you will be amazed at how many authors and creative people battle with depression on a daily basis.  So, as you will see in the image below, I have found ways to join my skills and interests into a really fantastic career.   Continue Reading

Interview with Caroline Pedler

Caroline Pedler

I have two sides to my creative personality.

Celeste: Hi Caroline, thanks so much for taking time out to chat to me today! I just love your work! I understand that you have done a lot of illustrations for children’s books over the years. Can you tell my readers a little about yourself and how you came into this industry?

Character Sketch from Little Bear's Big Jumper
Character Sketch from Little Bear’s Big Jumper

Caroline: Hey Celeste, Yeah thanks…. I was living at home in Cornwall after a disastrous gap year and bad health and worked on my illustration folio. I had a lucky break showing my folio to a card company in Bath and from there on in I started illustrating greeting cards for a company called Gordon Fraser, under the umbrella of Hallmark Cards in 1997. I worked for card companies for a couple of years, illustrating numerous ranges and making a living from that and bar work. I loved it. I was then offered my first children’s book around the same time, for Oxford University Press, and then another for Readers Digest in Bath. From one of the the first ever greeting cards I did with Hallmark, a company called Parragon wanted me to do a book based on that card, of Father Christmas. I did 7 more books in that range, plus another 6 over the next few years. That started my career. I also took part in exhibitions in local galleries at that time and got an agent via that connection. So for a while I did various illustration work and then I started working with the children’s publisher Little Tiger Press in 2005. I have been on a rolling book contract with them ever since. Meaning I am contracted to do 2-5 books in one contract, spanning over 12 months – 2 years in advance. I prefer a two book contract so I don’t feel trapped. Little Tiger are a great company and really look after me. To the extent of taking me to business parties and taking me out for dinner in Palaces and lovely restaurants in Bologna, Italy, while at the Bologna Children’s Book Fair. Continue Reading

John Kelly on Pirates, Processes and Illustrations

John Kelly

I don’t like cheese. Hate the stuff!

Celeste: Hi John! Thank so much for chatting with us today! I just love your Beasty Pirates book and I am so excited I can pick your brain for a bit. First of all, can you tell my readers a little about yourself?

Munch, Crunch Prirate Lunch
Munch, Crunch Prirate Lunch

John: Hi Celeste, So glad you like the Beastly Pirates, especially as there’s another one coming this summer. It’s called ‘Munch, Crunch, Pirate Lunch!’ And tells the tale of Heartless Bart, the pirate leader, who is exceptionally annoyed that the Beastly Pirates have eaten all of his pirates and sets out on a dastardly plan of revenge.

Well, I’ve worked in publishing, firstly as a designer, since 1990. Most of that was in children’s reference non-fiction. I found out very quickly that as I was a designer who could draw I naturally gravitated towards doing books about explaining things. My niche was deconstructing technology, buildings, animals, maps, and films. I’ve always been interested in taking things apart and putting them back together again to show how they worked.

But I’ve also worked in licensing, doing books about Star Wars and Pixar for a company called Dorling Kindersley.

So I spent a big chunk of my career drawing things for other people to then illustrate. I never considered my own drawings to be artwork or illustration as such. They were always just the ‘blueprints’ for a ‘proper’ illustrator to come in and finish off properly.

Over the years I did illustrate some books, but in the early 2000’s (long story) I ended up getting involved in children’s fiction. The rest, they say, is history. Continue Reading

Ruth Chan chats about Georgia and Illustrations

Interview Ruth Chan

Georgie is my real life cat, and Feta is my real life dog. They are sort of odd and hilarious and are best friends

Celeste:  Hi Ruth, and welcome to my blog! Thanks so much for joining me and my readers today. I stumbled across your portfolio, while browsing the KidLit411’s website and loved your illustrations of your cat Georgie. Can you tell us a little him and his books?

Georgie on books
Georgie on his books

Ruth: Hi Celeste! Thanks so much for having me.

Georgie is my real life cat, and Feta is my real life dog.  They are sort of odd and hilarious and are best friends– they sleep together, clean each other, and get upset when one of them isn’t home.   So, quite understandably, I knew I wanted to make them into characters in a picture book.

Where’s the party? Is the first book that features Georgie, Feta, and a few other friends.  Just like in real life, Georgie and Feta are sweet, a little awkward, but apologetically themselves, We now have a series, called Georgie and friends, and the second book, Georgie’s best bad day is due out April, 2017.

Celeste: I understand that you didn’t come to illustration the conventional route (neither did I!) but discovered it and pursued it. Can you take us through your journey and how you found yourself making drawings for a living?

Ruth: I studied photography and education in school, so, you’re right, I don’t have a conventional, formal background in illustration. I’d always, however, loved picture books. They seamlessly encompass some of the most beautiful things in life: A good story, beautiful language, incredible art, humor, wit, tenderness, and truths. I’d amassed a huge collection of them, but never allowed myself to really consider making them. While I doodled here and there, in my mind, there was no way I had the chops to make it in such a competitive industry. Continue Reading

Interview with Paddy Bouma

Interview Paddy Bouma

Tips, advice and Bertie

Celeste: Hi Paddy! Thank you for taking time out to answer our questions. Before we start, can you just tell us a little about yourself?

Paddy at her Studio
Paddy at her Studio

Paddy: I  always wanted to be an illustrator without having any idea how to go about it! So I studied Fine Art at UCT and was fortunate enough to win a bursary to study in Paris afterwards. While I was there, out of the blue I was asked by a SA publisher to illustrate my first book, in black and white. It was set in France, which is why they asked me, I suppose… Unfortunately it ended up so badly printed that I was put off illustration, I thought, forever!

Back in SA, I taught Printmaking at the Art School of Stellenbosch University. But my first love of picture books reasserted itself and in the late 70’s I wrote and illustrated my first picture book in colour. It lay on the shelf for 4 years before it was published…

Celeste: I think I’ve counted over twenty books that you were involved in, as either an illustrator or a writer, since 1984 (which was the year I was born in). Does anyone of those projects stood the test of time for you, and still remains your favorite?

Paddy: I think that would be the Bertie series (about a badly-behaved toy hippo) that I wrote and illustrated for the Bodley Head in London the 80’s. I was recently asked to do a book reading at our granddaughter’s school in Dubai. Confronted by a class of very bright 4-5 year olds, my old favourite came out! The stories seem as popular now as they were then – the teacher commented that she had never known the class to sit still for so long! Continue Reading

Polymer Clay Art Dolls by Мастерская Santaniel

Santani Interview

Sowls are small mischievous spirits. They like to frolic, so don’t forget to feed them sweets, and they will become your best friends!

Celeste: Hi Santani! Thank you for taking time out to chat to us today about your amazing creatures. Can you tell the readers a little about yourself – where are you based, how did it all start?

Little Dragon
Little Dragon

Santani: Hello! Thank you for the interest and kind words. I am sorry for my bad English, but I will try. I live and work in Moscow, Russia. I started making dolls when I was 15. Since then I’ve never stopped making them till now, so about 10 years. At first I made small full-plastic figures of animals and fantasy creatures like dragons and etc. After 2 years I started to make dolls combining faux fur and clay parts.

Celeste: The combination of sculpting and sewing is an unusual hobby mix – do you sew the dolls and how long did it take you to work it all out? Continue Reading

Mike Boldt Children Books & Illustration

Mike Boldt Illustrator

The ‘D’ is silent

Celeste: Welcome Mike, to my blog! Before we get started, can you tell my readers a little about yourself?

Mike: Thanks Celeste. I appreciate the invite and opportunity. I live in the beautiful countryside just outside Edmonton, Alberta, where I’ve lived most my life enjoying comics, cartoons, sports, and ice cream. I also love creating stories and drawing and have been doing so for as long as I can remember. Professionally, I’ve been working in as an illustrator for over 16 years working almost exclusively on products for children.

I Don't Want to be a Frog
I Don’t Want to be a Frog

Celeste: You style varies a lot, from realist to very stylised work. Can you tell us what your favourite project has been so far?

Mike:  I have a couple favorites. Recently, it would be the I Don’t Want to be a Frog book, by Dev Petty, as well as my next book, A Tiger Tail. Both those books were such a natural delight to work on – which also helps having an incredible editing team that I really connected with. I should add that when I have time for it, I love doing personal doodles. I should really try to make more time for those.

Celeste: Not only are you a creative illustrator, but you’ve also been published as an author. How does it feel to be on the ‘other side’ as a writer?

Mike: It’s a very different approach to a project for sure. Drawing comes very naturally for me, where writing does not. When I get a manuscript that someone else has written, most of the hardest work has been done. As an illustrator, I get a lot of ideas and concepts I’d like to do or write. But an idea or simple concept is nowhere near a finished story. Writing a great story is the most difficult thing I have come up against, but something I also enjoy immensely. Continue Reading

Whimsical Illustrator – Shirley Ng-Benitez

Shirley Illustrator

My inspiration are my kids and nature.

Celeste: Hi Shirley! Thank so much for chatting with us today. I must say I love your work – it is very whimsical! Can you tell us a little about yourself, before I start bombarding you with questions!

Shirley: Hi Celeste! You are so kind to ask and thank you for your generous words, I really appreciate that! I am a children’s book illustrator and writer living in the Bay Area, California and have been illustrating for the children’s market for about five years. I made the transition to illustration in 2011 from many years in the graphic design field. I started out after college working for American Greetings, Inc. as a Professional Lettering Artist, and then worked for different design firms specializing in the toy industry, direct marketing, product marketing, and technology. I continue to work with my clients in design through gabbyandco.com, my company established in ‘98. Continue Reading