Sunday, October 7, 2012

"Getting the Setting of Story"

"Researching the story's environment"
By happy accident, I discovered the  way to travel interstate, overseas, inter-culturally  and explore the  ambience of remote towns, cities, country lanes and outback outposts. Air tickets - well that's the ideal, but no, I used Google Earth.
It started with trying to locate a lovely country home in West Hougham, Kent, England by using aerial satellite and 'street view'. It was featured in Country Life for September 7th, 2000, and was the
Inspiration for "The Dolls' House in the Forest"
inspiration for my story "The Dolls' House in the Forest". 
West Hougham, Kent, country road, travelled via Google Maps street view.
I didn't find the house, but I had the most wonderfully inspiring time wandering down country lanes that were little more than wagon tracks, great boughs canopying overhead and wildflowers dotted in the fields...
Now, if I need to capture something of the 'feel' of an area. I seek out an address. Then in I go.
Exploring the Realtor advertisements in the research area gives insight into the lifestyle and inhabitants of the town. Many homes  give a slideshow or even a video tour online.  
Visualising Story
Other ways to 'get in the setting' for free include YouTube clips. This is even a Youtube video clip on West Hougham, Kent. Sadly, it doesn't feature that house...
Other ways to 'get in the setting' for free include Flickr, photographic collections held in State Libraries and on places like Pinterest. For historical setting, try online Heritage listings and databases for Australia and UK.
An example of other useful research sites  for historic buildings in Australia -
International settings - the virtual tour
Aside from a drop in to street level via Google Earth, many online sites feature virtual tours of historic settings, buildings, rambles around towns, cities and country areas. A few examples -
Castles -
Eilean Donan, the iconic Scottish Castle on Youtube Clips.
Neuschwanstein - site tour;
International Cities
A walk around Paris by video [not signposted but a good  overview of  everyday life on Paris streets];
Whatever the historic building or the town, you are quite likely to find a youtube clip or at least flicker photos, then there is always Google Earth! Have fun!

Sunday, September 9, 2012

Monday, July 30, 2012

Shoe Designer to Children's Illustrator

Interview with Caroline Lee, Shoes Designer turned Children's illustrator!

Caroline and I have  just launched our digital picture book collaboration on Utales. It is called "Little Dragon's Babysitter" and is a humorous narrative verse story with a counting element. This is Caroline's first  picture book and my 7th digital book.

Question: Caroline, you are living every woman's dream - designing shoes to die  for! Tell us about  why you decided to  add illustrating children's books to your resume?
I have always liked drawing in its own right, vs. drawing for the execution of a design. I still enjoy designing, and will always  love shoes, but it's also nice to be able to just simply draw, especially since becoming a mother. My daughter loves drawing  and painting, so it's something that we can do together.

Question: What drew you to the text of "Little Dragon's Babysitter"?

Jennifer sent me two really lovely stories, one which was about a turtle and the other about little dragons. I chose the dragons in the end, because I liked the counting element, and I liked her little side comments, which established a humorous point of view to what could otherwise be a scary story for children.
Question: How did you decide to tackle the illustrations? What decied you on the medium to use?
As I felt that the story was humourous, I decided to use pen and ink for its boldness, and added colour via Photoshop, as digital colours for me fit the final product, an eBook. I thought that the two combined would give a handmade but modern look that fit Jennifer's story.
Question: You have added an illustrative subplot to the story that is very effective, combining the story of the little dragons, which you have made into toys, and the   story of the little girl who babysitting a toddler who has more than a passing resemblance to a little dragon! :)  How did you come up with that? What inspired you? 
That is the subtext that I myself read in the story. Maybe I should have verified with Jennifer that this is what she meant ! :) This interpretation was probably influenced by my own experience of having a toddler my daughter was three when we began working together and had just begun becoming a bit more reasonable and easier to manage. During her terrible twos, one of my nicknames for her was 'Beastie', or 'the Beast', because she could be pretty nightmarish at times! 

Questions: You have also just illustrated the story of a friendship between a blind girl and her schoolmate. How did that come about?
When Nessa Morris joined the utales community, she said she was looking for an illustrator for her story about Amelia, a blind girl who describes her experience of colour to her friend, Betsy. I thought it was a lovely idea, so I wrote to Nessa saying I was interested, and sent her some of my work samples from Little Dragon's (minus the text, to protect Jennifer's privacy). Colours are such an important part of children's lives in the early stages of development, and the idea of showing them through the 'eyes' of a blind girl for me, was truly inspired. I hope she continues to write other stories that relate to her work in this field.

Question: Finally, What are you working on next? 
My workload got really busy after finishing Reaching for Rainbows, so I had to take a hiatus from illustrating. I have however, recently gotten back on track and am collaborating with a writer named Canidlynn Fite on a story about a nut. THis time, I am going to try using watercolours to see if it works with the story; if not, I will probably go back to my favourite medium of pen and ink with digital colours. 
Thank you  Caroline! Our collaboration was great fun and I love the way you brought out the humour in the story!  
You can see our collaboration here:
And more about Caroline and her work via this link: and for my tumblerlog.

Saturday, April 14, 2012

Eric Orchard: Marrowbones Pumpkin Patch Give Away!

Eric Orchard is launching his comic, "Marrowbones" online on 16th April and to mark the auspicious occasion he is doing an awesome giveaway!
Eric Orchard: Marrowbones Pumpkin Patch Give Away!: To celebrate the launch of Marrowbones on Monday I'm giving away 5 digital copies of Marrowbones issue 1 and the Marrowbones pencil sketc...

Thursday, January 19, 2012

All in the Woods - new book review by Kathy Schneider

Kathy's Library: All in the Woods (Book Review): Title: All in the Woods Author: J R Poulter Illustrator: Linda Gunn Source: From author for review Goodreads Summary: 'All in the Woo...

Title: All in the Woods
Author: J R Poulter
Illustrator: Linda Gunn
Source: From author for review

Goodreads Summary:
'All in the Woods' is a fabulous, fun read about a boy, his granddad, a possum and a trouble-making neighbour. Illustrated by Linda S Gunn and written by J R Poulter, it is aimed at 5-7 year old readers. 

I was really excited when I was asked to review this book. Generally I review YA and adult books, but I grew up babysitting and volunteering at daycares and preschools so I am no stranger to the children's book. And it's been ages since I've read a new one so I was happy to get the chance to try this one out. And it was definitely worth it. The characters are fun and the story is simple enough for a child to understand and complex enough to make them think, which I think is the most important part of a book for this age range. While this book was written for a 5-7 year old audience, I do think that younger children would enjoy it as well, although they may miss some of the plot elements.
And I haven't even mentioned the illustration yet. It is perfect. The illustrations themselves could stand along as beautiful pictures but when matched with the story they are simply fantastic.
This book is a great mix of illustration and story telling that every child should have the chance to read.

(Note: Since children's books are very different from what I normally review, it seems unfair and too hard for me to use the same rating system. So technically, I'm not going to rate this book, but I will be giving it 5 stars on Amazon and Goodreads)

Kathy has given one BIG thumbs up - 5 stars on Amazon and Good Reads!

Buy it on Amazon and