This will be a long tale in the telling, so make a cup of tea or coffee before you settle to look and to read.
In 2008 I went for a walk with my friend Cathy, who makes beautiful sculptures, and her daughter Evie.
We walked in the woods and as we walked I thought of wolves. The birds sang. Small creatures rustled in the undergrowth. We found a pair of shoes. But that is another story.
Back home I wrote a story called Little Evie in the Darkwoods. I always write first with a pen on paper. For me it easier to write this way, maybe because I am drawing the words rather than keying them in to a computer. Anyway, to begin with it looked like this:
I typed up the story and sent it to Frances Lincoln, and there it sat for a while,quietly in a draw, waiting.
Meanwhile I met Catherine Hyde. Her first two books, The Princesses Blankets by Carol Ann Dufy and The Firebird by Saviour Pirotta were published by Templar. Both were very beautiful. But when I asked Catherine what she was working on next she said she wasn’t sure. So I sent her Little Evie. I had always had a curiosity to discover what it was like to have your words interpreted by an artist or an illustrator and it seemed to me that Little Evie in the Darkwoods was just meant for Catherine.
Catherine liked the story, Frances Lincoln were intrigued by the idea of Catherine working with them on a book, loved the story of Evie, so then it was over to Catherine to gather up the story and make it live.
What has happened so far over the weeks has been a joy for me to watch. Catherine and I talked a little, of where the story came from. It grew partly out of my horror at Little Red Riding Hood when I was a child. It was all wrong. Always made me cry. It grew partly out of hearing Barbara Kinsolver talk about how children’s stories reinforced the fear of the wild and wild places. It grew partly out of wolf love and wild love. Then we stopped talking and I stood back and watched and waited. This is some of what happened next.
Then early beautiful sketches by Catherine became ink wolves.
So, have I found out what it is like to have a story illustrated? I can only touch the surface of trying to explain. It has been like watching someone put flesh onto the bones of something I started and to make it beautiful. Catherine, through her vision and sense of design has made Evie and the Darkwood and the wolf live and breathe. There have been times when I have crept up to facebook after a long day in my studio to find a treasure or two posted on my facebook wall as Catherine has made her way from the edge of the book into the heart of it. It has been an exciting experience.
Little Evie in the Wild Wood, written by Jackie Morris, illustrated by Catherine Hyde, published in the UK and the USA by Janetta Otta-Barry Books, Frances Lincoln in 2013. To see all the art for Evie have a look at Catherine’s website.
And did I notice when the title was edited? No, I didn’t. The Darkwood became The Wild Wood, so now we have Little Evie in the Wild Wood, which carries more light with it, an emerald green light.
For sale in all good independent bookshops in UK and USA.