I know – it’s super late coming out. It looks like it might emerge in 2022 now. As I’m writing this the owl is hooting outside, it’s deep midwinter and the ground is locked in ice. I’m currently working flat out trying to get this finished. It’s a whopping book, and the scale of it will probably limit the number of illustrations that can appear. The text, as I understand it, will be very slightly reduced in size, but there’s no way of avoiding the fact this will be a heavy book. One of the problems is that there’s SO MUCH I wasn’t to illustrate in this book, I’m spoilt for choice, but it’s great that this is a slightly darker book, and the children are getting older. This is getting more into my comfort zone now. I really struggled with the first two books.
It’s strange that when I started illustrating Phoenix I was living 160 miles away in Northamptonshire, and the world had never heard of Covid19. I’ve received messages from a number of illustrators and particularly illustration students that are struggling right now with the isolation. I really feel for those in education as this is not the way you imagine spending your college/university life. One of the most frequently asked questions from students is ‘how do you get motivated to work?’. All I can say is that for myself, I had to go back to what made me want to draw, what made me itching to get down to scribbling ideas. It was seeing people actually in the act of creating something I found inspiring. As a student working in a studio with others – that was easy, but once I was freelance and sat on my own at home, I turned to various ‘making of’ books, blogs, and DVD extras. It’s the closest I can get in lockdown to that ‘studio’ feel, watching people muddle through the creative process. The internet has proven really helpful for this too. I’m desperately trying to improve my skills all the time, there’s so much to learn. I still haven’t a clue how to go about using watercolour or apply colour theory, but i’m trying to learn during this weird period of lockdown
Publishing has, in general, been ticking along ok during the pandemic, and people have found escape through reading, which is one positive we can cling to. Meanwhile I will do my best to get this book wrapped up, and I am very grateful for your patience, and for the patience of the publisher Bloomsbury, who always support me when I have a wobble. J