Fear of flying.

First light, chopping logs for the fire, thinking about the days to come. Years ago when I began to work in children’s books I didn’t think I would be doing this. Life was more peaceful then. People didn’t have computers at home, well, not many people. No facebook, no blog.

My second book, the first that I did with Frances Lincoln, The Snow Whale written by Caroline Pitcher, came out quietly like softly fallen snow and was shortlisted for The Federation of Children’s Book Awards. It was reviewed well in newspapers and I even went to a book festival where I met proper authors and illustrators like Philip Ardagh and Vivian French. I thought this was how it was. The book was reprinted within months of publication, did get a US edition with The Sierra Club, but never did great in the USA. Meanwhile I had had another child, or maybe Hannah was a baby when I was working on the book. Yes. I seem to remember playing in the snow with her.

The Snow Whale The Snow Whale


Many picture books went by in the years since then. The children who once had The Snow Whale read to them for a bed time story now have children of their own, well, some of them do. They are grown up. The Snow Whale is dedicated to Hannah Lily Sunshine. East of the Sun and West of the Moon is dedicated to Hannah and Erin. I saw Erin the day she came home from hospital and now she is in her final year of her illustration degree in Winchester and is beautiful and wonderful and all grown up. And Hannah is in Kingston doing a Foundation Year and seems sometimes a long way away.

East of the Sun, West of the Moon is about many things. It is about growing up, leaving home, finding love, traveling. It is about courage and leaving home. And it is for all of the children who have grown up with my books and for the ones who haven’t found them yet.

And now I have to go out into the world which is a noisy place and try and make it visible so that people find and buy it.

So, I am flying to Seattle on Thursday, weather permitting. I have a list of things to do today and have done many things that are on the list and some things that are not. And I have a list of what to take with me and it reminds me of a list I once saw in the Dylan Thomas Centre, of things he was taking to New York. On it was ‘wellington boots’. I wonder if he took them?

List of things to do before i go

So, I have my list of things to do above, with subsections, and my list of things to take below.

List of things to take


No 1 was done with laughter in the local bank. No 2 was wonderful and was the first crossed off. While I was there I used my van as an office and wrote a piece about painting for Books for Keeps. She makes a lovely office and it is lovely to be away from the computer to write. Must do more.

Dawn light

On the beach

Writing article in teh van

Back home Genji decided that he was really a cuddly cat and so he helped me type and edit and send. Cuddles involved claws, which was interesting, but the more time I spend with the cats the more I like them.

Helping me to write


And now, I have to go back to my lists, cross things off and start to pack. I want to make the most of this short trip away, but fear flying and am an impatient and inexperienced traveler, so I am hoping to stay calm. Over the next few days I have cars and planes and maybe snow to deal with, school children and book stores and reps in the USA, librarians ( I am going for the American Library Association Winter Conference in Seattle). Hopefully there will be snow leopards. And I will see Hannah.

I have decided that I must take my sketchbook, just incase the plane should crash.

And when I get back I will have to start making a list for Bishops Stortford. Now, let me see.

1. Tiger

2. Cushions for tiger.

3. Nepalese Healing Bowl.


What is wonderful for me is that Frances Lincoln still have The Snow Whale in print after all these years, a thing that is almost unheard of in publishing these days. Only in paperback, but still there, to be discovered by a new generation of young children. Still selling, slowly.


My work has changed a bit in almost 20 years.


About Jackie

I am an artist and writer. I live in a small house by the sea in Wales where I write, paint, walk and watch and dream of bears and whales. I love to read, have a wish for wings and prefer the company of animals to that of humans, though at times I can be quite friendly. I am learning how to work with wood engraving tools and hoping to show that you can teach an old dog new tricks.
This entry was posted in Uncategorized. Bookmark the permalink.

9 Responses to Fear of flying.

  1. Della Marinis says:

    I often look at your blog via Google Reader and see your posts fly by on Facebook, but don’t think I’ve ever managed to comment. I’m moved now because you mention you don’t like flying and nor do I, but must once in a while do it since I live in Berlin and come from the States and have friends and family in different countries everywhere (very bad planning on my part). Take care and try to transcend the whole experience, maybe have a shot or two of gin before boarding. Of course, this last strategy is tricky to maintain on such a long haul to Seattle, but all will be fine. If anything you’ll pass out from boredom 🙂 All the best and good luck on the promotion of your new, lovely book.

  2. marilyn ritter says:

    Have a happy, safe, fun, productive, enjoyable, did I say fun, fun, fun trip! It will be an adventure of the first order and you will come home with lots of ideas. Waiting to hear all about it!!!

  3. All the best Jackie. Thinking good thoughts for you.
    Sandy in Bracknell

  4. Tammie says:

    how wonderful that you have had such a full life as a writer and illustrator.
    i wish you a wonderful and safe trip to the USA, good weather once you get here. I wish i lived in that area so that i could show you around…. I am in the NW, but not far west.

    wishing you the best with your new book!

  5. Kerry says:

    I love reading your blogs they take me away from my world of accounts, cooking and the general hectic life that comes with being a mother of 2 (3 if u include my husband) have a safe and wonderful journey and I’m sure you will enjoy the magical and talented delights of robin hobb

  6. Georgia says:

    Have a great trip, loved reading your lists. (newt!). I used to write many lists, mainly on the backs of old envelopes but these days I tend to make them in my head. Sure that will change as I get older!
    Loved the Manda Scott Boudica books. Hope you enjoy too.
    Have the kittens’ names changed? Just curious.

  7. I shall never leave home again without my newt brush.

    Exquisitely poignant detail about Dylan Thomas. I’ve missed that at the DT Centre – incidentally a place my two young boys (9 and nearly 7) will happily pop on the headphones and listen to recordings of Thomas’s poems and Under Milk Wood…

    Thanks again for the richness of your blog – I always look forward to opening a post. Have a great trip (love the van, btw!)

  8. Christina says:

    What a stunningly inspiring place to write! If I’m writing a story or a poem, I much prefer to write with pen or pencil in hand too.

    I’ve just ordered two copies of ‘East of the Sun, West of the Moon” from Anna at Solva, for my girls…though I suspect that I will be at least as excited, if not more, when they arrive! I asked for a special dedication, hope that’s OK.

    Have a wonderful trip!


  9. margaret says:

    Reading this post after the one that tells of your trip, I’m reminded of my many flights to the West Coast, each more dreaded than the last – and how wonderful it is to get there … and even more wonderful to get back home each time. All the best for your next voyage!

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *