At last! Finally… Drumroll please…. We present… ‘BLOCKS’
My picture book 'Blocks' has been published by Nosy Crow. Hurray!
This story of toddler rivalry and reconciliation is now ready to be shared with pre-schoolers everywhere, but reaching this day was a story in itself, taking a little over four years.
I thought I would share how it came about.
2011 MA illustration project: Devise a sequential narrative. That’s what I was working on, so when I awoke with this in my head I just scribbled it down. Job done. Or so I thought.
I planned it to be wordless, tweaked it a tiny bit, and drew it up for hand-in. I even trying out screen printing along the way, enjoyed creating my first ever dummy book, and didn’t think too much about it - other than noting my tutor had an aversion to the boggly eyes on the children!
2012. I had heard about the Macmillan Prize but never thought about entering, but with only a few days to the deadline I decided to ditch the boggly eyes and redraw the entire 32 page book with coloured crayon, and enter.
Weeks later, I got the call from Macmillan. Blocks had won first prize. Which was very nice indeed.
They really liked it, but to publish it, the team at Macmillan had to sign up co-editions. Somehow the whole wordless thing just didn’t work. So I popped it back in the drawer and I went on with my course, developing my practice as they say, a very different style emerging along the way.
2013. The end of the MA course was approaching, and having spent all my time on the final project, I had almost forgotten about the little wordless book, but at the eleventh hour I had dug it out, dusted it off, had a rethink and drew it all over again, but with soft pastels, and included it in my show.
Being concept driven, the style changed, but the sequence, basic composition and use of limited colour, which are essential to the story, stayed exactly the same.
2014. It was on the suggestion of Kate Wilson at Nosy Crow that a re-working of Blocks in my newer style, with the addition of some very limited text, might just be what was needed.
So, always one to take heed of good advice, I did just that. And this is the one which is now a proper book.
The published version is the fourth time I have drawn these characters, each time very differently, but now they have names (Ruby, Benji and Guy) and the book has words, and just the right amount. I am quite attached to them all now!
So just as some author/illustrator projects are snapped up and published with little or no no editing (you talented lot know who you are) so others, like mine, take a more meandering path to get to the finishing line.
The editorial input from the team at Nosy Crow to guide and direct me to the finished product has been invaluable, and I would like to take the opportunity to thank both Frances and Kate for spotting something worth nurturing in my student work.
I am sure that my next books will be a little more straightforward, and speedier in getting to the finishing line!