Last year in a bid to have something to focus on after a super rough few months, I got stuck into illustrating one of the short children's stories I have written - The Arboretum Eel. Although I did sell a fair few more than expected, the best thing for me was the sense of achievement, finishing something and getting it up for sale on Amazon. I've read the book in classrooms, done a public reading and donated copies to local schools and it all just made me super happy.
I've written plenty of stories/short books/poems now and I am determined to get my second book - 'The Arboretum Rat' out this year before Christmas. I've been beavering away with the illustrations and have just three pages left, covers and the final edits to do and I'll be all ready for the publishing stage again. I had so much positive feedback from the first book and my absolute highlight was going into a local cafe where they told me they just had a little boy in with his Mum, book in hand, on a walk to explore the arboretum and find all the spots in the book and to see if they could spot the eel! That one things was just so lovely, somebody making a memory with my book, enjoying the character, the story and best of all getting out in the fresh air with it to explore. This is exactly what I wished for when I made it!
The second book is going really well, I'm very happy with the illustrations this time round and love being able to get the pictures in my head onto paper. I hand draw my characters and work from my own photos to create backgrounds of the recognisable parts of the setting. Although this is based in my local area, it can be enjoyed anywhere!