I’ve been watching Game of Thrones, and loving every minute. I’ve loved it so much that I’ve started drawing Harold the Hamster as characters from the story.
In this one he is dressed as the wonderful Tyrion Lannister!
It’s quite exciting to find someone such as Julia Donaldson being picked as the new Children’s Laureate. Obviously she’s massive in the book publishing world, and her name alone will get column inches, but more importantly for me is that she makes a big deal of events.
Events form such an important part of being a children’s author. Not only do they help us authors pay for the weekly shop, but they really are the key to getting children excited about books. Give a child a book, and they may read it. Give a child a book of an author they’ve just met at a great event, and they’ll love it and probably read it three times. It’s a surefire way to unlock the reader in a child.
So it’s exciting news! Yes.
I’m very excited to say that a guide to drawing yetis has just gone live on the Guardian children’s books site. The Guardian has always been the paper my family read. As an art school teen with my sights set on something or other (does anybody know what they want to do until they’re doing it?), I had a goal of one day getting my work into the Guardian in some shape or form.
I’ve written a couple of blogposts for their website, but to have my characters feature there is that goal finally achieved. I feel all emotional. And I think I now need to set a new goal.
Read all Alex Milway’s Guardian articles.
Excitement is in the air here as a finished copy of the Magma Conspiracy has arrived. I’m so pleased with how it’s turned out, and I think the comic section of New York is some of the best work I’ve done.
It’s in the shops at the start of July, so go Yetis!
The world is full of news at the minute. You can’t sit down without hearing something new on the radio/TV/Twitter, which makes you want to stand up again.
The big news of the children’s book world is the loss of Diana Wynne Jones. When I first met my agent, her office was full of Howl’s Moving Castle and Studio Ghibli memorabilia. I was awestruck, as she’d recently travelled to Japan with Diana to meet Miyazaki. It seems such a slight thing, and she’d never have known it, but without Diana Wynne Jones, I wouldn’t have picked my agent, and the yetis may never have happened. So here’s me raising a drink in memory of a true great of the children’s book world.
Next on to Julia Donaldson, and the piece in the Guardian where she explains why she thinks ebooks are a bad idea for children. She says that: “if everyone just says yes to there being an ebook of everything, there is a danger they could take over.”
To think digital is not already taking over is a real mistake. You only have to look at the music industry and note how badly CD sales are faring to see that publishers have no choice but to embrace technology.
There’s no going back to an age where paper is the best medium for words, we left that long ago, and in all honesty, you can’t, and won’t, stop children picking up phones/iPads/laptops and using them. My 16mth daughter is already captivated by our phones. She’ll be coding by the age of four and reading ebooks by the age of 5.
I don’t believe all books should be retrofitted to work on digital devices, but new work should definitely look to the future and embrace its possibilities and potential. It’s exciting what might come out of it. And picture books look beautiful on a backlit screen.
And while we’re on the subject of picture books, Polly Dunbar has made a wonderful online picture book about writing a picture book. Just lovely (and digital).
I rarely get much time to read these days – if I’m not writing I’m drawing, and if I’m not doing those I’m probably sleeping or looking after my daughter. Crikey, where did all the time go?! But over the past few weeks I’ve been running a lot of workshops within schools, so there’s been a bit of travelling. Travelling on trains means free time, which means I read a book!
I hadn’t read a Scream Street book before, but i loved the concept: a road/town where loads of monsters live side by side, separate to normal humans, getting on with life and getting into scrapes. A bit like Stella Street (watch out for a bit of swearing on that link), but with an A-List of monsters rather than superstars.
So, Rampage of the Goblins, the 10th in the series, involves the search for a lost mummy and a whole host of farting goblins that are out to cause trouble. I really like the goblins. I mean, what’s not to like about creatures that guff all the time? And then there’s the cutest bloodsucking leech you’ve ever met.
What Tommy Donbavand manages to achieve is a rollercoaster ride of an adventure, that’s both silly and scary in equal measures. It jumps from one set piece to the next with such gusto that you never really question how the characters stay in one piece, or how Rhesus the Vampire manages to keep all the useful plot devices tucked under his cape.
It’s a blast from start to finish, and there are more thrills and laughs than you can shake a decomposing zombie at. I like!
PS. Number 11 in the series features a yeti. What more do I need to say?
I’ve been drawing a lot of late – in bed, on the trains, in school staff rooms. Obviously, this drawing is extra to yetis book 3, which I’m very pleased to say is nearing completion. The scribbles and doodles seem to revolve around my hamster friend, Harold, as well as many vikings.
Harold is one of those characters that appeared almost fully formed, and yet also out of a need for a foil for Pigsticks the pig. Pigsticks needed a friend to get up to stuff with, and Harold arrived on the page without much trouble. His attitude is just perfect for a sidekick to the energetic and super-positive pig.
The more pictures I draw of Harold, the more I love him, and the more situations I want to put him in. I love to see how he reacts to things, and I’m currently enjoying making him look after a load of baby hamsters.
Baby hamsters don’t have any features other than eyes and a nose, in case you were wondering.
And here’s Harold again, covered in the little monkeys! He’s fast becoming overrun with them!