Dear Year Two, St Thomas’s Primary School.
Thank you so much for all my pictures of dragons and mermaids and tigers and letters that you sent me. I collected them when I went to pick up my friend, the dragon, who had spent some time in Cover to Cover in the Mumbles. She said she loved it there and had many visitors.
I am really busy at the moment, finishing a book for my publishers. It has to be finished by a certain time so that it can be designed ( by the designer, Judith Escreet) which means that the words are all place in just the right position, and then sent off to be ‘proofed’, so that we can see what it looks like when the words and the pictures are joined. Also so that we can make sure that all of the spellings are right. Anyway, this can’t be done until I have finished all the pictures, but I am waiting for some paper to dry so that I can do the next picture, so I thought I would reply to some of your questions.
But first let me show you my studio: this is my desk, where I paint, waiting for the paper to dry so that I can begin. A stuffed owl watches me while I work.
Below are three views from my studio windows. The morning started gloomy, with rain. Now the sky is blue, though taking a photo into the sun bleaches this out. When I took the photo out of the other window you can see what a beautiful afternoon it is. Soon those bushes will be busy with birds and white with blossom.
So, let me answer some of your questions.
Kayla, Kara and Poppy asked what my favorite book that I wrote is. This is always either the one I am working on or the next one that is just the tiny seed of an idea. I find these more interesting as there are many questions to ask myself about them and to try and find the answers for.
Jojy(?) and Natasha asked whether I enjoy writing the books. Well, yes and no. I enjoy chasing an idea and trying to give it a shape and make it work.
Madison asked if being an author or illustrator is hard work and I would say yes, and also no. My uncle worked in an iron foundry. He shovelled coal and carried great heavy bags of coal and it was hot and dirty and a different kind of hard work. What I do takes hours of patience and thinking and working which is hard, but also very fulfilling. My uncle loved his work too. He made things that are still in use years after he has died. Whenever I see one I smile.
Maddson Moore (?) asked where I get all the books. Not sure what this means, but my books are all printed in China, about 2 000 of them to begin with. Some are translated into other languages and it is lovely for me to think of my stories being read in France and Spain and Netherlands and Denmark and USA and Greece and Korea and China and Japan.
Lucie and Connor asked how many books I have written. About 10 I think. When I was at school and used to write stories I would hand them to my teacher or my parents and they would hand them back and tell me that I had spelled lots of words wrong, so I thought I could not write. Obviously my spellings were more interesting than the stories I wrote. I thought writing was something other people did. Then I began to write because I couldn’t not write. I love all your letters, the fact that some are written so beautifully and clearly and others find drawing more easy than writing. And I love that some of you have spelled picture “picktch” and “picchus” and I know what you mean and it doesn’t matter!
Lalce ( ?) asked if I enjoy making the pictures and i would say yes. I love moving paint around with a brush, and I love making a picture appear on a white piece of paper.
Jasmine asked what my favorite book is and I would say it is Where the Wild Things Are by Maurice Sendak.
Jack asked how many books I have read and I would say not enough. There are so many brilliant books and more being written all the time. I love reading, and take a book everywhere with me. And I love being read to.
Josh asked why I decided to be an illustrator, and in a way I would say that an illustrator decided to be me. I always drew and I realised that I might be able to make a living by drawing. I have been very lucky and I have spent my life drawing and now writing. Also it is because I can’t do much other than draw.
And Madison Sharper says would you like to come to our school and I say yes. That would be lovely. Perhaps I could read you a book?
Thank you for your letters. I must go now and see if my paper has dried. Also the dogs want to go out for a walk and the kittens want to play.