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If you work in children's books, you'll know that everyone's gearing up like mad for the Bologna Children's Book Fair: designers are shrieking and running about with cut-up bits of paper (ARGHHH!!!!); rights people are trying to find little pockets of calm to make phone calls to Canada, Korea (SHHHH!!); Bologna cafe owners are making up extra buckets of gelato (Bene, bene!). And I've been - very quietly (eep eep!)- making up some samples for the Oxford University Press stand:



Remember those great Seawigs bags we had last year? This year they're going to be orange, and feature cakes, aliens and robots.



Here's another little peek:



'So what is the Bologna Children's Book Fair?' you ask.



It's an exhibition centre in Italy with enormous halls - like airplane hangars - where publishers display their books, many of which haven't launched yet. And their agents work like mad to sell the rights of the books to other countries, to be published in other languages. (These are called 'co-editions'.) Britain's a small country, so if you sell a book well in Britain, that's great, but if the book can be selling in 15 different languages, there's a chance you might actually make a living from it! I'm not going this year, but last year, my co-author Philip Reeve and I went to Bologna with our publisher, it's an amazing place.



OUP let us draw all over the stall, and I always love the chance to peek at foreign editions, particularly the French language picture books; they often have such interesting design and quirky illustrations that expect quite a lot of advanced abstract thought from their readers. (Read my blog post from last year.)

If you want to catch a bit of Bologna action, you can follow the hashtag #BCBF14. (I think this is the first year they've actually managed to pull together an organised hashtag for English language tweets. Past year's it's been Twitter chaos.)

One of the exciting things has been seeing the Uncorrected Proof copy of Cakes in Space arrive in the post! This is a work-in-progress version, with about half the illustrations finished, and the other half as pencil sketches.



This very limited edition will be missing a bunch of fun stuff like the author pages and endpapers. Last year I'd finished all but the last chapter, and this year I was feeling a bit bad that I'd only managed half this time. But I talked about it with some people, and actually, I think this way might be better: last year people thought they basically had the finished book, and they were surprised when much later they saw the final version, how much more interesting stuff it had in it. This one doesn't pretend to be finished, but it still gives an early reader a very good idea of what's in store.



I've completed all the artwork now and we're working on final edits. I couldn't go to the Emirates lit fest until I'd finished, and that meant I had to put in some very long hours. It really was quite gruelling, and half of me felt terrible about it, because I wasn't giving my friends and family any time, and leaving stacks of e-mails unanswered. But another part of me loved the excuse to switch off from everything but drawing, and really focus on making great pictures. And then I'd feel a bit guilty for enjoying it so much when everyone was annoyed at me for letting them down in so many different ways.

So yes, some tears and pleading were involved. I think this is the hardest thing about my job right now, always feeling like I'm letting down so many people all the time. I get quite depressed about it. ...That is why I need my fleet of McIntyre Clones:



...Heh heh, I love this Zen teacake here, he looks like such a calm little dude in the midst of cakey chaos.



Cakes in Space launches in the UK this September, and fingers crossed that it does well in Bologna. Oliver and the Seawigs did VERY well - 14 foreign co-editions sold - so this year I'm optimistic.

Comments

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jabberworks
Mar. 31st, 2014 09:19 am (UTC)
Hey, thanks so much for that! I don't know how people manage to have young kids and make books; people say it's possible, but I think I would just be tired all the time and want to have a flop instead of working whenever I had a spare moment. Hopefully you'll get more time as they get older, I totally sympathise. But it IS hard not to feel guilty when the house is in a state and I've spent all week working and then go off and spend the weekend doing events. I don't know how to do this job by halves, it's so hard to predict how much time everything will take.

Sending hugs your way! xxx
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