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edinburgh book fest 2017

Hey, Philip, is it time again for Edinburgh Book Fest???

I first met my co-author at this very same festival, back in 2010, and since we started working on books together in 2012, it has most definitely changed the course of my book career! For our joint event, we presented our fourth book together, Jinks & O'Hare Funfair Repair and got the audience up to help us with a whole variety show of activities.

I did a solo event, too! Here's my presenter, Ruth Collin, and the stage crew who helped make it all happen! (Shockingly, writer of The Prince of Pants, Alan MacDonald, had been booked to do the week before with illustrator David Roberts. I'll only forgive him because he is David Roberts.)

The audiences are the best part, and I was thrilled to meet this one who'd created her own special Pugs shirt! (She also helped us with the Hook-a-Duck and rolling the giant dice during the event.)

Click here for lots more under the cut!Collapse )

#portraitchallenge: bertha case

Today's portrait inspired by one I saw in Kelvingrove Art Museum in Glasgow on Monday, by John Duncan Fergusson, The Pink Parasol - Bertha Case, from 1908.

(Here's the original.)
Earning a living as an illustrator is a tricky business. We'd love to spend all day drawing, but if we or our agents don't pay attention to what's happening in the industry, we can discover we're working every waking hour but not earning enough to live on. We have to help each other stay aware. Since I wrote this tweet, below, there's been a lot of discussion of illustrator copyright, and how important it is for illustrators to keep their copyright:

After talking with a lot of people on and off Twitter, I came to the conclusion that I'd overstepped in hashtagging that tweet with #PicturesMeanBusiness. Copyright is too broad a scope for the specific campaign and its all-sides-win argument for getting illustrators properly credited for their work. BUT... there are still some things regarding credit to learn from this case. Twitter was very helpful in making me look at the issue from several different points of view and getting industry feedback.

I'll quote last weekend's article by Heloise Wood in The Bookseller in chunks, addressing several points. (Here's a link to their online article.)

This issue had been niggling at me for awhile; I'd seen lots of publicity for Tom Fletcher and Shane Devries' picture books but never seen Shane's name mentioned. This bothered me: #PicturesMeanBusiness argues that picture books and highly illustrated books are very much joint efforts and I've encouraged publishers to put illustrators' names on the front covers. If their names aren't on the front covers, I see illustrators get left out of all publicity and press releases. Names are important, partly because:

1. Branding: The illustrator needs name mentions to build their 'brand' to get more work.

2. Selling point: An illustrator's name on the cover lets browsing potential readers know that the books are illustrated.

3. Accuracy: Names provide accuracy, so readers don't assume a writer drew the pictures if someone else did.

4. Metadata: Better searchability can mean better sales. If an illustrator wins an award, people will try to look up the books they've illustrated. If books don't come up to buy, it's a big fail for everyone connected.

Click here to read more under the cut...Collapse )

dumpling and the cosmic wind

I just had to post this fabulous picture and story here for safekeeping! I've finished my Booktrust Writer-Illustrator in Residence post, and you can read all my blog entries on their newly refurbished website here.

And from the Dumpling the Unicorn competition, here's the picture by Silver Sleightholme, age 10, and the story it inspired by Philip Reeve. (See the original Booktrust blog post here.)

Back when everything was brand new, a giant blue space unicorn galloped among the stars. His name was Dumpling Von Twinklehorn, and he was very lonely, since he was the only giant blue space unicorn in existence (as far as he could tell). In fact, he seemed to be the only living thing of any sort. Everything was so new back then that there were only stars, shining their beams across the sky like lighthouses, and, here and there, a big, emp-ty planet.

One day Dumpling galloped past a planet that looked particularly pretty. It had red conti-nents and yellow oceans, and it reminded Dumpling a bit of rhubarb and custard (which was odd, because rhubarb hadn't been invented yet, and nor had custard). It definitely looked tasty, though, so he took a big bite, and then another. 'Hmm, just a bit more,' he thought to himself. 'Mustn't be greedy,' he mumbled, chomping another continent...

Before he knew it, Dumpling had eaten the whole planet, and his tummy felt awfully strange. He laid down among the stars for a snooze, but he could not get comfortable - he was too full, and the rumbling noises coming from his tum were too loud. Brrrmmmb-bbmmggmm, they went, and also Rmmmbgbmrbmmm. At last Dumpling stood up, lifted his tail, and did an enormous fart. THWAAAARRRRPPP it went. It was the loudest noise that there had ever been. The stars all blinked in shock. But Dumpling's tummy felt better at once.

And when he looked behind him, he saw that something wonderful had happened. Where there had just been empty space there was now a bobbing, twirling cloud of moons and planets. They glittered like jewels in the light of the young stars, and on lots of them Dump-ling could see animals and birds and people moving about. Some of them even had uni-corns! "I have farted my own universe!" said Dumpling happily, as he settled down to watch. "I shall call it, 'The Unicorniverse'.

And he never felt lonely again.