A group of published UK-based authors and illustrators of picture books, children's and YA.
Today we are being generous with the sugar sprinkles and practicing our best iced writing to wish Kate Louise and Grace Sandford a VERY HAPPY BOOK BIRTHDAY for Tough Cookie!
Kate is of course an established YA author, and is now following her picture books successes The Upside Down-Fish and Pierre the French Bulldog Recycles.
This is Grace’s debut picture book title.
Clara: Congratulations, Tough Cookie is fantastic!
Kate, tell us about the central character in the story, the gingerbread man – he’s very badly behaved but I can’t help liking him!
Kate: Thank you, Clara! This gingerbread man was baked without ginger, so he doesn’t really feel like he fits. He lives in the back of the bakery and causes trouble, upsetting the other gingerbread men and women and making a mess for the baker. The baker has soon had enough of the gingerbread man’s mischief and teaches him that his ingredients don’t make him who he is—it’s his character that defines him.
Clara: As with The Upside-Down Fish and Pierre, your picture book stories have a strong message, but delivered with a beautifully light touch.
What would you like your young readers to come away with from Tough Cookie?
Kate: Thank you – again! I’d love readers to experience the happiness among the gingerbread people is due to making good choices, helping each other, and being kind. It’s a fun story, and Grace’s illustrations really make it, so I hope readers enjoy it with a big smile.
Clara: Grace, your colours in this book – sticky, jammy, sugary – are good enough to eat! Can you tell us something about your technique?
Grace: Thanks, Clara! I painted with acrylic for this book, which I think helped create some intense, bright colours! What I do is ink up the artwork first and scan the lines in. Then I paint over the top of the line work (scan again), And then merge the line layer and colour layer together digitally on Photoshop. It creates a much cleaner effect this way.
Clara: Hurrah for REAL PAINT! Will you pick out a favourite picture to share with us now?
Grace: This is my favourite spread from Tough Cookie. I remember how much fun this was to create and I feel it shows the gingerbread man as a changed character, learning from the mistakes that he made previously in the story. Plus the macaron tower makes me hungry every time I look at it!
Clara: You make a great team. How do you both collaborate – do you work closely together or keep the words and pictures fairly separate?
Kate: I’ve loved working with Grace on this. With this particular project, I wrote the story and submitted it to our agent, Isabel. She paired the two of us up, knowing how well Grace’s style fit the theme. Grace sent lots of rough and final pieces over and we discussed both text and illustrations as a team up until submission and long after it placed. Creating this has been such a lovely experience!
Grace: Thank you both of you! This was my first picture book, not just with Kate but ever, so it was a really exciting experience. I feel like I’ve learnt a lot from Kate, our agent Isabel and also our editor, Julie. What I love about working with Kate is that she really cares about this book, she wants it to do the best it can and I’ve found that really inspiring and have taken this for when I’ve been working on other books. Kate completely gets the business and promotional side of being an author (and illustrator) and I think we both work hard to get our books seen by as many people as possible. I would love to work with Kate again!
Clara: And finally, what’s next for you both? What are you working on now, and will you be collaborating together on something new?
Kate: I’m currently working on my young-adult novels (written under the name Kate Ormand). TOUGH COOKIE was my final contracted picture book, but I’m really hoping to work with Grace again some time!
Grace: I have written my first picture book called THE EGG which will be published in the UK next year with NPP Books. A series of colouring books that I worked on for a publisher in Spain has been picked up in France and hopefully will be in the UK at some point too! For now, I’m writing (and drawing!) picture book ideas that I hope will one day find a home.
Clara: good luck with all of these exciting new adventures on your desks, and I hope we see you working together again.
Meanwhile, would you care for a gingerbread man, with lashings of ginger…??
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Kate Louise is picture book author of THE UPSIDE-DOWN FISH, PIERRE THE FRENCH BULLDOG RECYCLES, and TOUGH COOKIE. She lives in the UK with her family, her partner, and a cocker spaniel called Freddie. She graduated from university with a first class 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. Kate is represented by Isabel Atherton at Creative Authors Ltd.
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Grace is a freelance illustrator and designer working from the south east of England. She graduated with a degree in Illustration from the University of Lincoln in 2013 and went on to work as an illustrator and designer for children’s magazines, board books and picture books.Twice a week Grace also works in the office of a Junior School and teaches art to some of the pupils. Nature and fantasy are often strong themes of Grace’s work and she has been inspired by nature ever since she was a child, always choosing to draw from nature in her work or by which book to read!
When she is not drawing, Grace can be found drinking lots of tea, listening to Bowie and wearing her favourite Doc Martens!
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.