February 5th, 2017

survivors: interview with illustrator kerry hyndman

As Blue Peter Book Awards judges, one of the books we picked for the shortlist was the gritty and gripping SURVIVORS, real-life tales of people who went through terrible ordeals to stay alive in the wilderness. The smooth artwork was a real counterpoint to some of the rather shocking accounts (could you saw off your own arm with a blunt pocketknife?) and I interviewed talented illustrator Kerry Hyndman for BookTrust. This is the unedited version and you can read the shorter, snappier version over on the BookTrust website.

* Congratulations on your shortlisting for the Blue Peter Book Awards! That's exciting! Did you grow up watching Blue Peter? Do you have any favourite memories of it? (I grew up in the States, so it's interesting to hear Brits tell me what they remember!)

Thank you, I'm so chuffed to be shortlisted! Yes I did, my brother and I would watch all the time. I remembering entering a drawing competition about energy saving lightbulbs and then desperately trying to see if my picture was pinned up on the studio wall - sadly I don't think they showed it so it's great to have finally had my work shown on Blue Peter - it was definitely worth the wait!

* Your Survivors book with writer David Long really stood out from a lot of the other new non-fiction albums in shops right now. Many of them are quite sanitised and pretty, and while this is a beautiful object, it's also intensely GRITTY! (Someone saws off his own arm, someone has a wound full of maggots, someone staves off dehydration by wrestling a shark and drinking its blood, etc.) What were your thoughts when you first got the manuscript?

I was so excited about the book when I first got the brief. As a snowboarder, cyclist and someone who enjoys a good old hike, I loved the prospect of getting to research and draw all the amazing scenery. I love mountains, and snowy winter scenes are my favourite to draw so I got stuck in right away with those stories. I also really enjoyed the challenge of trying to capture the peril in each scene without making them too gory or gross. This was particularly tricky with the guy who saws his arm off and the doctor who operated on himself, but hopefully my images aren't too traumatic!

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