A group of published UK-based authors and illustrators of picture books, children's and YA.
Today I have the pleasure of interviewing mother and daughter team, Shirley Hughes and Clara Vulliamy, to celebrate the release of DIXIE O’DAY AND THE GREAT DIAMOND ROBBERY. After loving the first book in the series starring Dixie and his pal Percy, finding it a fun and exciting adventure accompanied by wonderfully lively and bold artwork, I can’t wait to get my hands on the second! I’m delighted to be joined here by author and illustrator of this charming series to see what’s in store for Dixie and Percy in this brand new adventure…
Kate Louise: Hi Clara! Your illustrations for Dixie O’Day in the Fast Lane are so charming! What did you enjoy about working only in black and white, with just a splash of colour?
CV: Thank you, Kate! I love working in black and white, probably best of all. The detail, characterisation, humour and action spring to life off the page. A touch of red here and there is the strawberry on the top – and in the case of the cream teas Dixie and Percy eat in this story, quite literally!
KL: Will we see any of the characters from the first book—arch enemy Lou Ella, or the mischievous badger brothers perhaps?
CV: Not this time, though they will definitely be back in future stories.
In The Great Diamond Robbery there’s a whole new cast, including two dastardly villains and gorgeous feline pop star Peaches Miaow…
KL: Dixie and Percy run into all kinds of trouble in book one, from stalling on a railway track, to hanging from a cliff . . . What can we expect from book two?
CV: All sorts of perils lie in store for our dashing duo, including a daring sea rescue, a nighttime treasure hunt, and heart-in-mouth drama at the wheel too of course.
KL: Shirley, this series must be so special to both you and Clara. What do you love most about collaborating on this?
SH: This is the first time in my entire career I have written for an illustrator other than myself, and we have a lot of laughs working on the Dixie adventures together at my kitchen table, bouncing ideas off each other. I think the most thrilling aspect, for me, is to see what surprises Clara has in store: she adds details I wouldn’t have dreamt of.
KL: What’s next for you?
SH: At the end of August I have a big new collection out, A Year Of Stories and Things To Do; it’s a treasury of stories, poems and activities for every month of the year. In the autumn a new book called Daisy Saves The Day will be published, about a scullery maid in a grand house, set in 1911.
KL: And can we end with a quote from Dixie O’Day and the Great Diamond Robbery?
That evening they were both tired. Dixie wanted to go to bed early, but Percy insisted on staying up to see Peaches Miaow sweep into the hotel dining room wearing a silver satin dress and a smile as dazzling as her diamond necklace.
‘She looks like a princess!’ whispered Percy.
‘She certainly knows how to make an entrance,’ said Dixie drily. ‘Those diamonds must be worth a fortune!’
KL: Thank you both so much! Lovely to chat and I can’t wait to read!
I was born in London, daughter of author illustrator Shirley Hughes and architect John Vulliamy. My first experience of making pictures was being allowed to use up my Mum’s paints at the end of the day, which was like scraping the icing out of the bowl after baking.
I studied Fine Art at Chelsea School of Art, The Ruskin and The Royal Academy. After graduating I began illustrating in newspapers and magazines, and doing a weekly cartoon in The Guardian. I started writing and illustrating children’s books when I had a family of my own, and I’ve been hooked ever since. I’ve made around 30 books, including The Bear with Sticky Paws, Lucky Wish Mouse and Martha and the Bunny Brothers.
I live in Twickenham with my husband, our two grown-up children and a gang of cheeky guinea pigs.
KATE LOUISE is a picture book author represented by Isabel Atherton at Creative Authors Ltd. She lives in the UK with her family, her partner, and a cocker spaniel called Freddie. She recently graduated from university with a first class BA (Hons) degree in Fine Art Painting. It was during this course that Kate rediscovered her love of reading, prompting her to try a new creative angle and experiment with writing. And she writes YA as Kate Ormand.