Here's The Scared Book with a bit of bling on the cover. Doesn't it look fancy?! It's been long-listed for the Children's Book Council of Australia (CBCA) Book Of the Year, and I feel honoured and thrilled for the #thescaredbook team! The book is born of collaboration. Kim, the illustrator has taken my words and brought them to life in the most amazing and unpredictable way, and Suzanne O'Sullivan and the team at Hachette have guided and overseen the process and added their own touches, like the gorgeous embossing on the cover.
In celebration of being a notable book, I thought it would be nice to hear from one of these co-collaborators, the amazing illustrator, Kim Siew.
I love what Kim brought to The Scared Book. It was an unusual manuscript – not your usual illustrating a story. Kim had to make the book a character and bring it to life, as well as make it appealing so children want to interact with it. Kim’s quirky and playful take on my manuscript is colourful, bold and amazing! Here's a Q & A with Kim Siew...
First off, thanks so much Kim, for taking on this book and helping make it something so very special. I’m interested in how you first felt when you saw the manuscript for The Scared Book and what inspired you to take it on?
I enjoyed that as the reader you were encouraged to be so interactive with the story. You guided it and were a part of it. I loved that sense of playfulness. (But really, I just wanted the chance to draw lots of monsters!)
What was your thinking processes that lead to coming up with the ideas we have?
When I first read the manuscript, all the words that jumped out to me were the interactive elements. It was fun! So I wanted the monsters to echo that sense of fun, for them to be silly and friendly rather than scary, so that kids would be more willing to engage and interact with the book.
What medium did you use to illustrate The Scared Book and why?
I like to start with pencil and paper as I find I’m a lot more loose and free, which helps to get my ideas out. Then I’ll start cutting out shapes with coloured paper and moving them about to see what forms I can create, and this tends to create a body, sometimes even a texture or personality for a character. After finding the essence of a character through this, I’ll hand draw again, but this time the character is more precise. This hand drawn image is my base, which I then scan onto my computer. All the monsters are then created through digital collage, using a mixture of textures and papers that I scanned into the computer, and then drawing into them again on the computer. I’m able to move things around a bit easier once I have them all on the screen, assembling all the parts just as I would do with paper collage.
Being a book bursting with monsters, I was worried that they might appear too scary for the child reader. I needn’t have worried – the result is cute and quirky – with only a hint of danger! How did you go about the process of getting the monsters with the right balance?
Big eyes, no sharp teeth! And such fantastic guidance and feedback from Suzanne from Lothians.
What made you think of adding monster elements to the scared aspects – the goose- bumps and butterflies for instance?
I wanted the book to be inundated with monsters in all forms…it is a story about monsters after all! The more monsters in the book the better, it keeps you turning the pages to find more!
What were your favourite spreads to illustrate?
Tingle and Smelly. They are probably the most simple of all the monsters, but they are both so loveable to me.
Here's a gorgeous animation that Kim made of the tingly spine:
When Suzanne O’Sullivan indicated an interest in my manuscript, she told me early on that she had someone in mind who had more of a graphic design background, which I thought was brilliant given the type of book it is. So tell me about your background and your work.
I started out painting murals and creating zines (small, limited run, self-published works). Through my murals I was approached by a couple who created children’s books, Rachel Williams and Peter Warrington from Not Quite Newtown, and they gave me my first opportunity to create a published collaborative work. (Rachel is a photographer, Peter writes the stories, and for ‘You Make the Dreams’ I drew illustrations on top of Rachel’s photographs). I do a bit of graphic design also, teach mural design and paper art workshops and try to exhibit at least once a year.
How did Suzanne know about you?
Through my mural work and paper work that I sell on Etsy. I was so happy when she got in touch with me. It was like a dream!
What made you want to illustrate kid’s books?
I’ve always been a book worm. I love children’s books, I love graphic novels, comics, cartoons, animations. With children’s books, your imagination can lead you anywhere. There are no rules, there’s a sense of freedom and play and a beautiful wonder. I have always loved the art of story telling in all its forms, and my illustrations tend to play to a more naïve, child-like quality, so I guess it all came about quite organically.
I’m so glad she chose you!
So here we are at the end of the creative process with our book in the world – tell me - would you do it again?
In a heart beat x