A group of published UK-based authors and illustrators of picture books, children's and YA.
To celebrate the release of ‘Why Am I Scared of Everything?’ I talk about the different approaches in tackling adult and children’s books and why I’ve tried both.
The last six months mark a big achievement for me – a children’s book that I both wrote and illustrated was published, called ‘The Funny Bunny Fly’. Now on the 10th February, a book for adults that I both wrote and illustrated was published, called ‘Why Am I Scared of Everything?’ The gap in style between these two may seem large, but to me they are quite similar.
I’ve always loved the unusual and strange, and growing up, writers like Roald Dahl and Kaye Umansky inspired me. ‘The Funny Bunny Fly’ is a kind of homage to that sort of disgusting storytelling. So when it came to writing something for the older reader, I wanted to keep it weird. The subject is a serious one. It’s about anxiety. This is something that I’ve suffered with and have found ways to deal with, but not through self help books or meditation, or any of the other methods that help a lot of others. When I suffered from it, I focused on trying to laugh again. I’d stock up on comedies, read light hearted funny books and have long talks with my funniest friends. Very slowly, the darkness that surrounded my consciousness backed off a little. So this book was to become a bit of a silly poke at all of our greatest fears and to examine how little they really matter in the timeline of our lives.
‘The Funny Bunny Fly’ was an extreme version of poor hygiene. Weird creature goes into a bakery covered in poo, infects the entire place, gives everyone food poisoning. This was my way of showing children how important keeping clean is. ‘Why Am I Scared of Everything?’ also tackles extremes, in that the heroine, Regina, looks at each fear with a worst case scenario in mind. Flying, driving and smalltalk are given just as much gravitas as ageing, failure and death. Anxiety can make you just as afraid of all of these things. I decided to illustrate Regina suffering extreme ugliness through ageing and a ridiculous death that people laugh at on the internet. It’s not a realistic prediction. ‘Why do I worry about these things?’ we must reason. Regina tries to tackle her obsessions with an inspirational quote from a famous mind, to help both her and the reader think positive.
So really it boils down to the fact that, as long as I’m able to be silly, writing for both adults and children can go hand in hand. Or maybe I’m just a big kid…
BETHANY STRAKER is an illustrator and designer working in Kent and London. She is currently working on 6 picture books for Skyhorse publishing and currently has a book out written by Isabel Atherton, called ‘Zombie Cat: The Tale of a Decomposing Kitty’. Her new books include a book she wrote called ‘The Funny Bunny Fly’, ‘A Curious Robot on Mars!’ written by James Duffett-Smith and ‘Smelly Ghost’ by Isabel Atherton. Previously, Bethany has illustrated for magazines for Disney, CMP Information, Bliss magazine, the National Magazine Company and GoGo’s Crazy Bones. You can see some examples of her work on her website, www.bethanystraker.com