Monday, December 29, 2008

Theatre Rats

Here's a picture from a few years ago for a story I never wrote after all.

These guys are preparing for a theatre performance, I believe.
Can you tell what the play will be? Gold star merit if you can...

Cats Rule...

I'm looking through my old sketchbooks for just the right sort of a picture for something or other, and am baffled at some of the stuff that turns up... what is this one all about???

Very odd.

Sunday, December 28, 2008

Writing for Small Children

I'm working on a couple of lectures, and my head is full of stuff to say about picture books... I'm going through the notes and mails I've written on the subject, here's a bit I like about writing for four-year-olds (which often seems so very difficult and restrictive)

Age range is often a problem, many people find it hard to keep it "young" enough, but there's a neat trick to hit it (I think).
Don't think of it as something for tiny children to enjoy by themselves.
Remember the parent, too.
The age range you're aiming at with picture books is four-year-olds, and the thing they will love most is grown-ups having fun while reading out the book, because then they'll read really well.
Writing picture books is really like writing a script for an amateur performer (the parent) with helpful illustrations for the audience (the child). Write the book so you enjoy reading it out, and if you find yourself quoting it randomly in the day you are doing well, and if your housemates start quoting it back to you you're winning.

That's actually one of my favourite things to have worked out, and the main reason I enjoy making picture books - they aren't just to be looked at, they are meant to be performed, and how much fun is that!
But even though you might be writing to include a parent, the book itself remains the property of the child. Parents are invited, yet the actual core of it must address emotions important to the child - big things like loss and friendship and adventure. And with the pictures, you are talking to them directly - that's where you can bring in all the stuff that you know you would have got excited about as a child, whether your parents understood or not.

Saturday, December 27, 2008

The Kind of Person You Are

Years ago, an ex-boyfriend of mine who had a knack for saying things like this told me: "Since we broke up, I have discovered a lot about myself. Like that I am the kind of man who likes his coffee with cream."
I didn't say "You never complained about the foamed spit", or "What's wrong with lard then?"
I probably said "Well that's Great!"
The point being - all my adult life I've been the sort of person who likes her coffee with cream. No self-discovery needed there. Yet, I also always have been the sort of person who is deeply grateful when she manages to get a clean cup, boiling water and a spoonful of instant in the same place in the morning. The thing is, the kind of person you are isn't so much about what you enjoy, but about what you actually manage to keep stocked in your life. Which in my case definitely is not cream.

This morning I was drinking some of the lovely coffee I got for Christmas from the lovely cup I got also with the last bit of milk from the fridge, and I thought about what sort of person to try and be next year by way of self-improvement, and I decided to be the sort of person who keeps milk and cereal stocked so I can be the sort of person who has breakfast.

Friday, December 26, 2008

That went well!

I can see the nose of a mouse poking out between the floorboards by my desk. I think it's smelled the Christmas Chocolates.
I ate a load of leftovers, felt completely happy and warm and stuffed and fell asleep for hours, and now my stomach hurts a bit and I am declaring the festive break from work over. I'll huddle up with my notebook with a bit and scribble down some ideas for the new comic I'll be starting next year, and I'll check over my diary to see if all my plans are actually physically possible without warping space-time and endangering the Universe.
I got only brilliant presents this year. I think it's because there were less of them. Somehow people gave me a complete kit for a brilliant day with all the things I could need to be happy - my landlady gave me a pack of fine coffee with a beautiful large cup, my flatmate gave me my very own fake fur trimmed parka so I can stop borrowing his (it's my size and all!) and a jar of artichokes, and my mother gave me prettifying things and generally I got tasty food - and lovely surprises from abroad - and an embroidery set featuring the sleepless princess on the pea which I can mindlessly work on when I get bouts of insomnia. I feel completely cared for all round now! And I even very surprisingly was put in charge of the goose, last minute... but thankfully that is one task I have been trained well for by my gran and my mum, and I trussed it and cooked it and roasted it and glazed it and grilled it and it came out shiny and brown and tender and tasty. I am particularly proud since the cleaning lady some time ago scoured all the temperatures off the oven, so I had to work out for myself where 170C would have sat on the dial. - I am not very good at cooking meat, I think it's because I feel too guilty - no meal seems to be so much better than veg to me to really, really warrant a dead animal, but when someone hands me a whole dead goose I feel like it is incredibly important to make the greatest effort and get it as close to being worth-while as I can, and that overrides all else and I just get into some sort of slightly disturbing ritualistic mind-set for the next four hours.

Off to do some drawing now.

Wednesday, December 24, 2008


I got back into oil paints and now I'm painting a doggie... it's not finished yet, I'm contemplating what to do with the background.

Am determined not to overwork it this time, I expect it will take some more short bursts of inspiration... shall leave it like this for today anyway.

(Blurry for lack of daylight.)

Christmas! Here it is already! Yay...

I do apologise for the distinct lack of drawings this month! There has been a lot of paperwork instead, that's why.

It's going to be German Christmas today, that is, Christmas eve everywhere but here that means not much and back in Germany people will be unwrapping presents. I still find that a bit odd, but got used to it over the last ten years to a point that I don't get melancholy any more. It used to be kind of disturbing to have Christmas twelve hours late, getting dragged out of bed bloody early when I was still recovering from a night of trying to feel reasonable about it all, and then being made to play party games before I'm allowed to open one present at a time while everyone is watching (feeling a bit like Gollum wanting to go ssssh, my precioussss, grab the lot and scamper off under the kitchen table instead). And the mistletoe sprigs, lurking everywhere - someone told me if you don't spot them in time people are legally allowed to physically assault you in any way they like, and when I first saw a room decorated with them all over I got very frightened. I mean, no one bothers to explain all those customs in detail, right? And how are you supposed to know which ones are sacred, the paper crowns or the carrot stumps by the chimney, and are they going to suddenly all go WHOOP and set something on fire? ARRGH they are!!! I still get freaked out for a second every time the pudding lights up, before I remember it's not a dangerous accident.

All in all, my beloved time of dark, quiet unwrapping and squirreling away of presents and then falling asleep in a nest of them and waking up late to a day of feasting turned into something other and thoroughly menacing. But like jet lag, it faded. And also I am allowed to open as many presents as I like on Christmas eve now, and strangely I find I quite enjoy saving them up another day instead. And the moment after the panic about the burning pudding is passed is actually one of happy greed and joy thinking that it's been waiting for months getting nicer and nicer in a dark pot just so I'll be allowed to eat a huge chunk of it. And no one makes me play games any more, all in all, people are very kind to me, and this year we even baked some German biscuits... and I found myself wondering how I ever had the discipline to freeze the butter first and make the dough hours or days in advance and rest the biscuits for days after baking. And we didn't, and they came out very nice indeed, although I was quite happy no fellow Germans were around to be scandalised by the irregular shapes and the sticky Barbie glitter icing gel.
I shall take them around to a friends' house tonight and be merry, but first I'll cook the red cabbage for tomorrow, with apples and goose fat and cinnamon and cloves, which is my Christmas job, what with being German and all.

Merry Christmas everyone!

Monday, December 22, 2008

More Plans

I am thinking about what to do in the new year... I've already made some plans. For one thing I want to try and stop dyeing my hair because by now the roots looks so gray that I think it would look distinguished grown out. Then I want to have my favourite long coat fixed and re-lined in a nice colour, and I want to get some more clothes and shoes, but they all need to be absolutely comfortable and nice and plain because I am fed up with mornings when all I can find are weird shaped clothes. You know, the sort that looks harmless enough but then turns out to be diagonally cut with shoulder pads and a collar the size of your head and screams "decorate me with vintage jewelery and take me to a gallery NOW" when you just want to get on with your life.

And I want to draw a whole lot more comics in the new year! Yay!

Saturday, December 20, 2008

Plans and Birds

I just put more birds into the Christmas tree... my parents sent a box of glass birds including a parrot, and Alexis' mum brought a box of yellow little birds from today's Christmas shopping. Now I have fulfilled my ambition of decorating a whole Christmas tree with nothing but lights and birds. And bells on the lower branches.
There's a new chocolate shop across the road that I shall hit tomorrow for a round of extra presents... they have the most exciting flavours, last time I spent a long time just tasting tiny chocolate slivers.

I am also putting together all sorts of samples... next year I am applying for a part time job (or some) doing workshops and such, so I need a portfolio at last. I'm just getting a bit bored doing all my work at the same desk by myself, really, even if it involves grand voyages of the mind and invisible friends. I want to go out using my legs and work with visible people now and then.
But first - a big plate of tasty pasta.

Friday, December 19, 2008

Cloud Raccoons and Sky Boats

You should really head over to Eric Orchard's shop and grab copies of his beautiful mini comics about Harry and Silvio the cloud cartographers. Look at this!!

I hope some big publisher makes him draw a whole graphic novel NOW - because I want one.

Good Morning!

Strange days I am having! Not sleeping much, writing loads of biographies and blurbs and trying to work out what pictures to send to people who ask for "just some pictures" and in-between the phone rings and people tell me "your book was mentioned on radio 4"! And I get emails telling me about Christmas roundups my books have been included in or asking me to give lectures and workshops and it is all very strange and exciting, and keeps me awake at night... and I realised that I am almost unable to stay away from the computer now, the source of all these exciting and important news, I keep worrying that I might forget to reply or reply badly due to sleep deprivation... so yesterday I hid out at my friend Ellan's house and we walked in the park, listened to Christmas music by the tree and admired the kittens. And I slept more or less soundly from one thirty to eight, for the first time in a month or so, which is like an early Christmas present. There is hope this blog will resume featuring drawings and happy thoughts about other things besides reviews now!

Oh, by the way, it was Emily Gravett who mentioned me as her first pick of Children's book of the year... I am very happy.
And "Timothy and the Strong Pajamas" was just listed one of best picture books of the year in The Washington Post. And the Glasgow herald printed a double spread from the cat book. And Alex Milway blogged nice things about my launch and so did Sarah McIntyre. I hope to meet up with them and draw things and chat next year.
So that's what makes my head buzz. And now I will turn the computer off more or less until Christmas so I can recover!

Tuesday, December 16, 2008


The launch went well! I had a great time and was very happy that the whole team from Walker books could make it.
I handed out some badges to some kids who seemed to rather like them (and to grown-ups who did, too). I knitted a whole cat (minus arms and tail admittedly) while still managing to chat - I was a bit worried that it seems a bit rude to meet nice new people and knit at them, but all in all it seemed to make sense. I was very glad that friends old and new turned up, too, so there was a grand mix of people who make words, pictures, music, theatre and all sorts of art. And Gus the dog, who is a particularly lovely dog. It's his shop, really, he lives there. I hope he had a good time too, what with not being allowed any cupcakes.
Thank you everyone! My first ever launch went well and I am happy!

Click here to see Laura Kidd's report, with pictures.

Monday, December 15, 2008


AAAAH my badges just arrived! I had silently been dreaming they might still come in time for the launch... they did!!!! Aren't they ace!!!


NOW it will be a good event!

Things I just made

Here's a small polar bear I made two nights ago.

small bear

And here are some of the cup-cakes I'll be offering up at my mini launch in a few hours. I think they look a bit frightening, especially since most of the icing ended up pink. They are tasty though.


Now I need to find my good trousers, and have some coffee, and start being charming.

Sunday, December 14, 2008

Matthew Robins - FLYBOY

So, as promised, here is a review of the show I went to see the night before last: Matthew Robins' latest tale of Flyboy, my favourite lonely mutant. (Lonely when Mothboy isn't visiting, that is.)
It was part of a Christmas variety show at the Barbican, also featuring Jarvis Cocker, and pine and turkey fat smells cooked up by Heston Blumenthal. - I really just went to see Matthew, and I honestly think his twenty minutes were the highlight of the evening.

Matthew's Flyboy stories are presented as episodes of song and shadow puppetry. The filigree-cut-outs are incredibly beautiful, I can't quite understand how he makes them, and with moving parts, too... this one shows Flyboy feeding some buns to an elephant, part of the Christmas story...

... just about everything else I saw that evening was a downer - as they promised, in a way, the whole thing being about the darker side of Christmas, the annoying, sad and lonely part of it... but Matthew's story was about being as lonely as you can be, and places colder than Pluto, and it still featured aliens, haunted snowmen and made me smile and cry and be happy. And that's what I want from my Christmas show, thank you very much.

So... if you can catch one of his shows which happen every now and then in assorted London locations, you really should! Here's his website:

and here's a bit of one of his performances - a strange dream Flyboy has one night...

Saturday, December 13, 2008

Experimental Eyelashes

I'm not sure I'll be keeping those lashes on. And I should have waited a bit before stitching on the crumpely eye-doilies, now I feel there should be a stack of doilies behind the eyes. Might have to un-stitch some. But anyway, here is the very non-threatening beast so far. He really needs ears and some tassels.


There's no way I'll finish the whole thing (blanket body and all) for the exhibition, but I've decided that I'll try and draw the comic it goes with this weekend. He'll be fine half-finished anyway since the story is about him being made. Also I don't think I'll put him up for sale, I wouldn't want to sell him unfinished. I'll sell the comic though!

I realised this week that my decision to do public appearances in the coming year (despite the fact I always go blank when more than two people look at me at the same time) means writing an amazing range of Biographies and CVs tailored to each event, to go into catalogues and such. I still feel like I want to write a new one every time, so I have this growing file of biographies of mine, it's quite frightening, like living with an invisible famous person who has done all these assorted weird things, I can't quite believe that's actually me because I feel like all I ever do is have coffee and then tidy up and do some stuff inbetween, but over the decades that stuff really has added up to... something. SO anyway... 2009 should bring assorted workshops, lectures and events for me, and I hope I'll do them well... I'll definitely try my very best!

Which reminds me, I must find out if we can have mulled wine at the launch/signing on Monday. The shop is quite small and I think people would want to hang out in the lovely outside area a bit and clutch a hot Christmassy drink...

Friday, December 12, 2008

Christmas Birds

christmas birds

Just got out my tree decorations to check them over... all still have beaks, good!


Just signed a stack of books at Hatchards on Piccadilly, which is a nice old shop... one of the books had a torn jacket, so I put an extra cat on it so they wouldn't have to send it back to be destroyed (seems harsh, just for a ripped dust jacket).


Then I bought some Sushi from the Japan Center and ambled back home, losing my way somewhat and ambling through Whitehall, which I put down to sleep deprivation. It's not the worst place to get lost, it's kind of fun to turn a corner and suddenly face a palace guard on horseback (well, face the horse, really) or find myself in Scotland Yard or, in this case, on a bench in St James Park, watching the Pelicans and drinking hot Miso soup and having squirrels peer over my shoulder to see if there were any croutons perhaps maybe.

I am a bit tired because I saw a lovely Christmas performance by Matthew last night and then had to run across the City of London like a mad thing to catch the last train, and lost my way twice in the dark, and... but that's all a bit boring really, except for the performance, I'll blog about that properly later.

I think I'll have a snooze now and then go and buy drinks and cupcake ingredients for the Monday launch.

Tuesday, December 9, 2008

Nights of the Morsicant

So I discovered that I can top up the four hours of sleep I get on average each night with two or three hours of crocheting, filling in the gap between when I wake up after about an hour going WARGH about some odd dream and when I fall asleep again just before dawn or so.

face, almost

and in the process I finally realised what the story is that goes with this piece, and what shape it should be - I think it will be a head attached to a crocheted blanket, like a bear-skin, only as if one had somehow defeated the granny blanket monster of insomnia and turned it into a trophy. Once the head is finished I'll write it up and make it into a short comic.

Man, I am awake but not with all of my brain.

Monday, December 8, 2008

Lovely Reviews

Today my books got two great reviews. One from the Sunday Times (I really got that on Sunday but didn't notice) - they put "There are Cats in the Book" on their books of the year list. Yay. (And I wish I knew someone who gets the Times because I haven't seen it in print yet!)

The other one is for "Shark and Lobster's Amazing Undersea Adventure", from Bookiewoogie, as of today my favourite literary review blog in the world. Not only do they feature in-depth discussion of the books by experts, they also have pictures. Here is one by Lily:

used with kind permission. I remember how hard this monster is to draw and am impressed.
There are more on the site, including brilliant VERY SMALL cuttlefish - go see quick.

Now that made my day... actually, my week, I'd say.

Granny Squares and Nostrils

SO yesterday I decided to cover the Morsicant puppet completely in crocheted squares instead of stripes. Remembered that craftycrafty posted a link to a granny square tutorial... wouldn't you agree that these make great "scales" for a toothsome yet cuddly monster?

And today I find I have so much work stuff lined up that isn't actually drawing that I could stop drawing NOW and still have work to do for the whole week, so instead - I will be drawing stuff today before I forget how! - I just got invited to maybe do a talk somewhere, which would be my first proper talk, so that is frightening and best ignored for today! In fact I have been crocheting most of the insides of the nostrils of the Morsicant while trying hard to ignore prospects of a 45 minute talk about my work in the near future. Harrgh.

Sunday, December 7, 2008


I am hereby inviting all my nice friends and colleagues to the launch of "There Are Cats in this Book" at the Review Bookshop in Bellenden Road, Peckham, on the 15th of this month, 4 to 7 PM, bring children, bring friends, bring knitting, eat cupcakes, browse books, chat and be merry!

I'll be emailing and posting and speaking proper invitations also, but since it's short notice (next Monday already!!!) It's time to spread the word now!

Also, quite shamelessly, I am reminding you here that "There are Cats in this Book" together with a knitted cat or three or just some wool and a knitting pattern makes a very crafty Christmas present, and without is perfect to amuse any small people or cat lovers in your life. And if you come to the launch, I'll sign copies as prettily as I humanly can!

Oh, and there might be badges... and cupcakes, I did mention cupcakes?

Weekend things

Some things I did this weekend... knit more teeth for the Morsicant: he exists now, if just as a mouth so far, I would say. And he's going to be HUGE when he's finished. Argh.


I must hurry up because I want tos ee what he looks like so I can draw him for a short comic (on the theme of biting things) I also need to work out how to cover his back in spines.

I also threw out a lot of cosmetics I never use - like nice-smelling shower gel and shampoo that I have decided are responsible for me feeling itchy all over. I "forgot" them at the local pool and got some soap-free perfume-free stuff instead...

And now I am cooking the third cabbage stew in a row. I love cabbage. I love stew. I love cabbage stew.

Oh, I must post something much more important, hang on...

Saturday, December 6, 2008

Going to the V&A

So I did go to the Victoria and Albert Museum, and it turned out to be quite exactly four times as big as I thought it was on my last visit.


They have an amazing collection of status symbols through the ages... especially things that a master craftsman made to show his skill and then gave to royalty and then probably dropped dead from sheer exhaustion. Like the masterpiece of a Parisian craftsman, a trilobite shell set in gilded silver to make a tiny tall ship with all the rigging, carried on the back of a small silver mermaid... and only when you look very very closely you can see that by the main mast two people the size of thumb-nails are playing a game of chess. Yes, you can just about tell that it is chess.

This chair, however, is not unique.


I made sure to sketch it BEFORE reading what it was, just to give myself a chance to capture the utter weirdness of it (don't think I quite did). I called it The Uneasy Chair, because that's what it looked like quite exactly. It's upholstered in black velvet, and made completely from horns and antlers otherwise, spilling sharply in all directions, with screaming hog faces carved into the ends. - Apparently (as noted down here) it was the kind of thing one would have in a German hunting lodge around 1860 if one could afford to have it made. Which made me wonder - surely under any circumstances sitting in one of these would instantly unleash something to turn you into a minor Dark Lord? Was that intentional? Must have been.
Which got me thinking about status symbols, and how through the ages and places of the human world they have some similarities... you want something portable if possible (or else furniture) that you can whip out or flash for some reason (short sword covered in silver octopi with back-of-dragon-misted blade, owl-shaped teapot, silver time-piece), made from rare materials, tiny tiny or with incredible detail at least (miniature portraits, samurai armor, that silver tall-ship with rigging and chess) or insanely massive (cast of a roman column that only fits into house in separate parts) - but tiny is better on the whole because you can have more of it. If it's intimidating (the dark lord's screaming hog and antler uneasy lodge chair) you're good. If it is the final effort of a legendary grand master of his craft, you're likely the Queen of the Empire.
Which makes me wonder if somewhere out there are a load of people racking their brains how to get mobile phones made by old master craftsmen. Or rather, how to train someone for ten years in the mountains somewhere to make mobile phones.

Anyway. Here's a silver cow creamer and a Taiwanese tiger warrior.


I could have spent the whole visit just looking at the samurai stuff. I never realised before that if you look at a samurai armor from far away, it makes a good shape - then you get closer, and you notice it's made out of different parts which all make shapes - then you get closer and it's made of silk and leather and fur and tassles - then you get closer and the leather is actually fish-skin - and even closer it is embossed with tiny dragon-flies... then you bump your head on the glass display case, and you'll never know if there's a Japanese novel inscribed along the hems.


Got some research done in any case, and as you see, the Sleepwalkers are gearing up to return, and because drawn objects are free, they will have some really, really good kit, and the Sleepwalking house will have some interesting new rooms.

Wednesday, December 3, 2008




Last night's character drawings... new Hamster-based project, you see.

Tuesday, December 2, 2008

Milky Eye Moonpie

Last night I finished the cat I started knitting in the Bookshop - I cheated a bit and didn't follow the pattern completely, made the limbs a bit shorter and gave it a paunch, and then Alexis' mother rooted through her button collection to find some eye buttons - and found a chipped old cat eye and a gold rimmed, milky button... so now instead of giving this guy away for Christmas, as planned, I am keeping him for myself, because I am greedy, and I want to make outfits and hats for him now, and an eyepatch.

One Eyed Cat

I'll be off to the V&A in a bit to do some drawing and thinking - I bound a lovely new sketchbook for the occasion, all sorts of paper in a leather cover. Hang on, I'll show you...

desk today

so there ought to be some drawings to show soon.

I changed the studio around yesterday, which is a great improvement (as always). I think there are people who get unsettled when anything around them is moved at home, and who like to keep it all the same all the time, and people who get frightened if the furniture stays in the same place when the seasons change. I'm the second kind. So yesterday I stripped the big pin-board completely and got rid of one of my tables because it wasn't useful any more, but just collecting clutter.
It's funny about things staying and things changing, isn't it, I've never been able to work out some basic stuff in my life, like when the best time to work is, when one should eat a big cooked meal (Breakfast? Lunch? Dinner? Midnight?) and where clothes go if they aren't clean any more but also not dirty yet (on your chair, someone told me. What?? All of them??? Where am I supposed to sit???) I am in awe on all the people who can say: "I am in the habit of taking my breakfast of grilled tomatoes at seven thirty" or "I always finish what I start" or "One doesn't wear tights after sun-down" whatever happens in the world... they say once you lay down the rules it kind of runs itself, but how? I've sometimes tried to acquire habits I like, like listening to classical music before bed, and tried to stick with it until the soothing joy of repetition kicks in, but I never manage. I can't even explain to myself convincingly that nights are for sleeping and days are for everything else. Hey, maybe that's the way to break my insomnia, stay up until I'm actually tired...

Never mind, I am rambling, off to town to look at treasures!

Sunday, November 30, 2008

Alarmed Cats at Crystal Palace

So... I got to the bookshop and met these guys - aren't they lovely?? They look terrified for some reason. I was so impressed!

Bookseller Crow Cats

(here's a nicer photo - also includes my elbow)

Then I spent some time signing, and some time knitting (I made about half a new stripy Moonpie cat) and decided after a while to do less knitting and more signing because - as knitting will do - the place got a bit covered in wool and cups of tea and looked not very much like a signing table and I forgot about the customers for a while and just thought knitting thoughts. Note to self: people don't expect authours to be knitting when signing. Was a hit with some though, one small girl by the very good name of Aurora demanded I knit a row for her entertainment before she left, as advertised. - I think I perfected my author signature by the end of the day, this is the very last one:

signed book

don't try and forge cheques with that one, they'll think you've gone strange. My legal signature is just a weird scrawl... I think I might do a different one for every book now.

I think I'll return to Crystal Palace soon, when it's not raining, to look at the stone Dinosaurs and stroll around the other nice shops.

Friday, November 28, 2008

Off to Crystal Palace!

OK, just another post to remind people that I'll be signing books and knitting cats tomorrow midday at Bookseller Crow in Crystal Palace, hooray!

Otherwise - what a brilliant day! I rushed around a fair bit, to London Bridge to meet my friend Steph, who phoned her local bookseller in Cornwall and booked me a signing straight from the pub (so: mini seaside holiday afoot for me), and then on to lovely Herne Hill, which is (to my utter surprise) only a short bus-ride away from my home. Laura located the ideal writing cafe, and we had a Bloody Mary and half a pot of tea each while hacking away at our respective novels. I am so glad I know a good place to go to write and draw now! Whey-hey, brilliant day :)

Thursday, November 27, 2008

NaNoWriMo day 27

It's almost the end of NaNoWriMo and although I only wrote a fifth of a novel, I think I finished plotting the whole thing more or less last night. I'm not completely sure in what way it ends (I know the ending, but no details), and at least one character might be dead - I'll have to actually write the thing to find out. I am pleased with it, and planning to get it done steadily and illustratedly.

Now I am looking for a nice place to go and write once or twice a week, some comfy pub in Southwark where they don't play loud music in the day, preferably, somewhere with nice soft gloomy benches... or a cafe with comfy armchairs... and where they don't kick you out if you just drink a pot of tea over two hours. And it needs to be well heated. And serve some sort of food if needs be.

Tuesday, November 25, 2008


I just inserted the first teeth into the mouth of the Morsicant.


I also bought a bed-tent, and put it up. Here it is.

bed tent

I wonder how it is that when we are small we get to have things like bed tents to hide out in, but when we grow up we're supposed to stop that sort of thing. Why? Because you're supposed to want a house really badly? And we might all end up happily living in a box each in one big house and collapse the economy? (Hey...hang on...) - I get unhappy if I can't sometimes sit under a table or in a cupboard. It helps me think. If a lot is going on in the world I sometimes don't notice that I am thinking the same thing over and over. It is very easy, for example, to see the world passing by through a train window and count up everything I don't like about somebody I haven't seen in years over and over again. But when nothing is going on at all, for example because I am inside a cupboard at the time,that sort of thing becomes excruciatingly and obviously boring.
If you get stuck writing a story at your table, I do recommend relocating to underneath it for a bit.
But I don't insist.


So yesterday afternoon I spent a long time at my local train station together with a growing crowd of people also wanting to go toward Croydon... it got colder, and darker, as we waited, and no one was wearing enough to be out past nightfall. I glanced around and saw that people's eyeballs seemed kind of milky and frosted as they looked at the railway clock ticking on. It was quiet. All the train announcement times crawled forward steadily, always a few minutes ahead of the clock, suggesting that trains were slowly overtaking each other somewhere just out of sight, trying to stop each other from getting to us, more trains joining the fray, it must be crawling with trains like centipedes somewhere around Battersea. They had gone wild and forgotten all their training and just bit each others tails in a frenzy, is my guess. Trust British Rail to put feral trains on the tracks without breaking them in properly. Eventually, they cancelled them all, dragging the whole knot off the track I suppose, and started counting minutes again.
A sudden hail storm came down, like someone had slit the bottom of a bag of peas in the sky, and the girl on sitting two seats away from me shivered so much it vibrated everyone on the bench.
And all at once I realised I didn't have to go to Croydon, because I lived only around the corner, and so I had my tickets refunded and bought a big jar of sauerkraut and cooked a thanksgiving meal for the natives. I am glad they are letting me live in their warm friendly house.

Today, I set out again, and I'll take a dummy book on the train, so if it gets stuck due to "weather" (no one ever expects weather, do they) I can at least do some work.

Monday, November 24, 2008


In November, I am mostly glum. I do that every year, so it's no cause for alarm, in fact no one who knows me worries or asks why I'm being quiet, it's November, that's why. I once got so sad in November that I thought I might drop dead of it, but I didn't, and ever since that I get sad on Bonfire Night and pretty much keep it up (or down) until St Nicholas' day. I take it as an opportunity to be nice to myself and buy lots of hot milky beverages and read adventure novels, and I don't expect my drawings to be great, neither. They are November-drawings, a bit wonky and miserable.
This November is actually surprisingly cheery... I think I am getting better at Novembers. I think it's because I have learned to indulge my gloomy self to a point where it's actually kind of happy, drinking milky spicy tea and thinking how amazing it would be if suddenly one of the people in the café would take their coat off and spread great wings and all the pigeons in the street would come and peck at the window, and then no one would need to worry about anything else for the day.
I also don't question ideas as much in November, like the notion that it would be a lot nicer to sleep in a tent. I tried it out with bedding sheets and it really is an improvement, so today I'll go and buy myself a tent that fits on my bed neatly. I don't see why only children get to have brilliant beds anyway, I would like to have one in the shape of a boat, with a ladder going up the side, and trunks full of books, and rigged with night-sky sails, but that wouldn't fit into the studio so well. Maybe one day.

Sunday, November 23, 2008

Come to Crystal Palace, get yourself a book full of Cats - signed!

This is to announce that next Saturday, the 29th of November, I can be found at The Bookseller Crow, Crystal Palace, London. I'll turn up at eleven-ish and stay over lunchtime and see how it goes, and I will be drinking cups of tea, knitting a stripy Moonpie cat and signing any copies of "There are Cats in this Book" which you may care to purchase there and then. It's not quite a signing, more a presence. I'm told that there is also a Christmas Market going on in the area that day, so why not visit and do a bit of Christmas shopping?
You can also pick up a free cat knitting pattern, and if you add a few balls of wool to a signed book you'll have a fully interactive multimedia present!

They have already been busy knitting at the shop - just look at this superfurry Andre!!

Saturday, November 22, 2008

Definitely a Saturday

La de da doo dum dee da da da... da deee... dum da dooo... da da... don't bother holding the line, try calling back next week... doo doo...

Friday, November 21, 2008

Definitely a work day.

Back from a six hour session at the publishers', editing the dummy of my mostly finished book - with scissors and almost a full roll of scotch tape. Now some of it is utter nonsense and some is much improved... six hours of "Now it makes sense, but it's not funny", "Now it's funny, but it's got no emotional impact", "Awwww that's sweet, but it makes no sense"... and every half hour someone walking past saying "Oooh, I love that bit" about something that just got cut. - And that is just fine-tuning a basically finished fourth dummy of twelve spreads and less than one A4 page of text which already took months to write.
I am not complaining, I just kind of want to somehow bottle the way I feel right now up in a pretty flask and offer a swig to the next person who asks me why I don't work seven days a week ("it's not like it's a job - it's a privilege!"), or why I don't work on more than two books at a time ("Hey, I got a few great ideas you can use!") - I love this job, but it sure is a job.

Anyway, all lookin' good, two or three more days like this and we'll have it ready to be inked in!

Wednesday, November 19, 2008

Busy Day

I got up early and did some morning knitting and shopping, and because everything was bright and beautiful I bought tastier food than I normally do. I also made momentous decisions, as you do, firstly to stop putting concealer under my eyes every day - I mean, if I only had dark circles now and then, okay, but since they are there all the time they are actually part of my face, so people can get used to them. Secondly... secondly I already forgot. I hope I already did whatever it was.

I knitted the gums of the Morsicant puppet and started on the lips, and it is nice and snappy already. And then I really got going on my paid work... I have almost finished a new rough dummy, actually the old dummy photocopied and changed around with scotch tape and torn paper and scrawls. I think when I deliver it to the publisher I'll add a bag of sweets and a note of apology to the poor person who needs to scan it. There will be a meeting inbetween so I expect it will get covered in even more layers of scrawls and tape.
More to do now, still a few spreads left, and for a change there are materials for cheese and pickle sandwiches in the house...

Oh, and I also added a sound to my web page, just because I happened to record it and it sounds pretty much like my thoughts when I'm drawing stuff.

Tuesday, November 18, 2008


I gave my first magazine interview today, to a knitting magazine... I had to dig around in primary school memories a fair bit to answer the questions, and I told them about the final project I had to do: a teddy bear. Actually there were two, a crocheted one and a knitted one. The crocheted one I managed to make myself (pretty much - my mother made the face and one of the arms) and was very proud. The knitted one was a different story. (I recommend to anyone to learn crocheting before knitting - you just need one hook and don't need to worry about dropped stitches!)
Anyway, my mum tidied the attic today and found this guy.

And I thought I'd lost him twenty years ago!

Vegetable Music

I don't know why I haven't come across this guy before, but I tell you it is quite important that you have a look.
Might also be a way of getting your kids interested in vegetables, in case they're not.

Sunday, November 16, 2008

Sunday: more wool and more foxes.

I think it's actually a novel-writing day today, hooray! I've would the wool I bought yesterday into neat balls and started crocheting the inside of the mouth of the Morsicant last night:

It'll look better with gums and teeth.

Today is nice and grey and I have (I think) worked out the plot now, so why not produce some wordage about foxes...

And I just read the weekend paper and noticed that there will be Lucha Libre in London. Now I am rallying the whole household to come along to the show... they do a Sunday family matinee, if I book that I might even be able to see over the crowd! Whee!

Saturday, November 15, 2008

Very Odd

Hm: Strange afternoon I had. I got stuck in cross-town tube refurbishment traffic fuss and decided to take a break and do some research for my novel when I'd finally managed to cross the river and found myself at St Paul's Cathedral. The thing is, I had plans to end the novel there, but the plot hinged on the question: could a fox easily get into St Paul's cathedral in the middle of the day? And: WHY would it do that? - So I went to check if the doors were ever kept open (maybe for Christmas?) and what the place was like close-up and from the inside anyway. I looked at all the statues and the whispering gallery and the view from the dome and the crypt (where to my surprise I came across William Blake, which was nice, I didn't know they kept him there) and all that time I imagined being a fox and how I would feel about the place. I couldn't quite work out what a fox would ever want there, but it did still seem right somehow.
On my way out, I visited the gift shop. And the first thing I spotted was a shelf full of toy foxes. What was that about? Well, apparently - that was about "Herod", an urban fox who snook into St. Paul's ten years ago and happily lived there for a week. He's kind of their mascot now, it seems. "Ah," I said to myself and the shelf of stuffed toy foxes. "That answers that, then."
I did feel a bit like someone had re-programmed the universe to catch me out, but then I often do. So, tick - novel ends in St Paul's Cathedral. Real foxes agree.

Haberdashing off to the city

Aaaah, Saturday!
Time for me to get a travelcard and join the teeming masses. There's a few exhibitions I want to see (if they're not too packed today) and I need to get toy stuffing and some balls of wool to make a Morsicant for an exhibition. The main thing to be illustrated (or suggested) with this piece is a "sensation of repeated biting".

Morsicant Sketch

As you can see, I am still inspired to crochet smiley animals with round eyed masks...
He will have a big mouth with crocheted teeth which when closed slot into gaps in his gums, so that the teeth disappear completely and are surprising when they appear again. And otherwise he'll look like a friendly stripy monkey. That's the plan, anyhow. Then I just need to work out how to present him as a work of art - it would be nice if people could be bitten by him but that'll be a bit too much excitement in a gallery situation I think, so I might just have a photoshoot to demonstrate, or do some sketches...

And guess what, I just checked my work box for toy eyes (which I sometimes buy when I see them and then forget about them completely) and found these:

owl eyes


Friday, November 14, 2008

Ray "Steel Wool" Merino

Ooh! Eric has just posted some pictures of Ray in action... Look here!

I'm glad he arrived well - quite a journey, all the way to Canada, I was worried about him.
It's been ages since I've been inspired to knit (or crochet) a beastie, but there's something about nice people having babies that seems to trigger it!

I think I want to crochet more. Maybe I can make some toys for some gallery exhibitions I'm supposed to make things for... I hope they'll let me, maybe if I do drawings to go with them!

Friday Morning

Hm. Might need two coffees today.
But got a lovely mail from Eric in Canada, I sent him a sheep I crocheted for his baby in a burst of sheep crocheting inspiration and he arrived in one piece... my friend Matthew (who knows these things) says I should make a pattern section on my site for toys, but I don't know how to write crocheting patterns... I'll try and find out.

Thursday, November 13, 2008

Milky Coffee

coffee foam

That's the surface of the latte I had yesterday when I decided to not tidy up the studio but go and take my work somewhere else, because I figured I'd never get it done else. I might do the same again today... I love my studio but when I really need to get a lot done in a short time, running off to a cafe is much preferable because at home I get nervous about not getting things done and start tidying and looking for food... in a cafe, people buzz around wiping the tables clean and then offer me food. Ideal. And I get to scatter the milk-foam with sugar and wait for it to cool down, which is a very humane sort of a warm-up phase for work I think, much better than rushing around clearing work surfaces.

Wednesday, November 12, 2008


Wowweewow! Walker Books has put the official knitting patterns for Moonpie, Tiny and Andre online, so if you like the book you can accessorize it with your own cuddly cat friends now!
And remember, if you do, send me a photo of them lounging about in your home town, and it'll make my day.

Fun fun fun at the palace...

So I had a nice evening... I was invited to Kensington Palace (the bit at the back that houses the Princes' Trust, anyway) or at least I thought so until I arrived with my passport and all and wasn't on the guest list. But they kindly didn't throw me out into the chilling night, but let me in and gave me some champagne, the good people! I was very grateful to warm up because I had been out and about in London for hours, with an hour's break at a particularly nice grubby pub where I almost finished plotting the fox novel and amused myself matching Hollywood actors to characters I'd made up (it's free and easy entertainment, that).
I got to say hello to some authors and illustrators I'd only knew by name before, which was fun, and I had nice people coming over saying they liked my book even though I didn't have a name tag, which was surprising and joyous. And I wore my gran's necklace that I inherited some time ago, because I thought she would have liked me to wear it to a palace do.

And now I must spend all day preparing for a meeting on Friday, because I have about a week's work still to do on that...

Tuesday, November 11, 2008


I just got today's post and a phone call from my sister simultaneously. In the phone call, my sister told me that my nephews really want the latest wrestling video game but are absolutely getting something more wholesome. In the post, I got a five disc DVD box of "The Legend of Tiger Mask", and "AAA when Worlds collide". I think it is a good thing in a way that I live in a different country from these guys, else we'd all be bouncing around like lunatics shouting "I think I'm cute! I know I'm sexy! I got the Looks! That drive the girls WILD! I got the moves! That really move them..." I mean, not on purpose, I just enjoy doing the washing up more when I can pretend to be Shawn Michaels at the same time. It probably is unhealthy.

So now I have to run off to a day packed with strange PR activities, hooray! I got the moves, that really... er, sorry. See ya!


Monday, November 10, 2008

Videogames make me a better person

You know how they always say videogames teach you bad stuff?
I just went to the local supermarket to get a packet of loo roll. I wanted recycled, but as cheap as possible, but they'd gone and stacked that on the top of the high shelf, and two packets high. I could just reach the lower edge of the bottom packet (am quite short and get this a lot). I stopped to think, and noticed that there was a little old lady standing next to me who had exactly the same facial expression as me, which made me think she probably had the same problem (already a strange thought).
What happened then I can only put down to having played "Little Big Planet" on the PS3 a lot for the last three days.
I kind of bounced up, grabbed the low packet, caught them both as they came down, and handed one to the old lady.
She laughed and said "That was great! Thank you!"
I walked off to get some vegetables and thought: That was so not what I would have done if I'd thought about it for a moment.

Events again

I just tried on my proper dress, to see if it still fits around the arms - it does, goodie! I've got a big book launch to go to tomorrow, and as usual I'm wondering if I need to cut my hair or anything. I think I do... but I won't think too much about it, because every event I go to I end up looking loopy anyway. I'm no good with smart clothes... I can see they look nice, but so do naked people, and you don't see them gallivanting about at book launches much.

I also just got a mail about an upcoming exhibition where I'll get to illustrate a word that's disappearing from the English language - they sent me a list, and I got my first choice, "Morsicant", which means "the sensation of repeated biting". I have a slight feeling that this is a word still well used by the medical profession, but anyway, I am looking forward to illustrating it... if they let me, I'll make a sculpture, just because it's such a good opportunity not to have to work in 2D for printing. If I do have to draw an illustration I am slightly miffed that I didn't pick "Filipendulous" instead, which means "hanging from one thread".

Otherwise, the novel is shaping up well, I'll do an hour or so of plotting over lunch... I'm just working on a classic villain bit where someone makes a big show of sending out a message to prove their integrity, and then secretly kill the messenger. The main bit is where in the story it would be most useful to reveal the corpse - as a big shock effect before everyone has realised the guy's a villain, or right towards the end when we already know and it's more of a chilling detail? I'm trying not to kill of too many characters this time, so the ones that do die can do so to greater effect. - I'm hoping to get the plot in place in the next couple of days so I can actually write some more scenes...

Sunday, November 9, 2008

Small Creature

This seems to be what my doodles default to most of the time... small animals who are a bit surprised that nothing has fallen on their head quite yet. What that says about me I do not know.

I make that one of the six inconsequential things I've been tagged to blog by Anne. The rules are:
1. Link to the person who tagged you.
2. Mention the rules.
3. Tell six quirky yet boring, unspectacular details about yourself.
4. Tag six other bloggers by linking to them.
5. Go to each person's blog and leave a comment that lets them know they've been tagged.
I've not worked out who to tag with it yet because I think everyone I can think of has been tagged already, that's maths for you I guess, what with it trying to multiply by six every iteration... but maybe I can do that later and link back here.

Anyway, here you go.
1) when I doodle I always default to drawing small creatures who look like they are worried about the sky in some way.
2) I love watching old wrestling videos, from before everyone started bleeding all over the place at every match. I would really love to be a big guy sometimes and go RAAAAAH and grab some other big guy and throw him right over my head. Just, you know, for a few minutes, now and then.
3) I don't like saying people's names. I never have, for some reason. Sometimes people notice and quote that "How to make Friends and Influence People" book at me with some nonsense about how a person's name is the sweetest sound known to them or something. I think it's more like a doorbell embedded in your head, personally, and it seems odd to keep ringing it when they're right there already.
4) I don't play games or argue for fun. I sometimes try but I am totally hopeless, if I feel like someone wants to win I kind of want them to win, too.
5) My favourite line in any film ever is "Dinner's over, worm dude", as delivered by Bill when he comes back to life in "Bill and Ted's Bogus Journey". He says it in such a friendly way... I hope that's what I'll feel like when I die one day, like "Dinner's ready, Worm Dudes!"
6) I can eat a Chomp chocolate bar sideways without breaking it. Actually, that's a lie. I used to when they were 10 pence, now that they are 15 pence I have to bend them a bit.

NaNoWriMo, day 9

Okay. I've ditched the word count, and the world is suddenly a brighter place, and I am excited about the novel again. Here's my plan for the rest of the month: I will work on the book every day, but it doesn't matter if I draw maps, write words or just make notes. My aim is to have the thing worked out as a rough draft by the end of the month so well that - in the words of my illustration teacher at college - "someone else could draw it". - Since being introduced to the concept of writing a novel by writing a lot every day until it's written, I've written two big novel drafts, and I've failed to carve anything I liked out of either. I just don't think it's how my brain works... I like to think about patterns, and I like tightly plotted stories. That's why I am writing picture books, for goodness' sake, that's what I do, take something that's very much plotted and make it seem inevitable. If I let my brain run free and just write, all I ever write about is tasty food. My cunning villains are as disorganised as myself, and my heroes are always taking time off for a snack and a stroll round the block and maybe a nap. I'm just writing what I'd rather be doing myself instead of writing.
You wouldn't believe how much tasty food I've already crammed in these 10.000 words...

Mind you, I've come up with characters and ideas that were completely unexpected (some of them about interesting food, but not all), and that's due to just writing without thinking too much, but I have reached the point where there's enough ideas and enough characters and I want to close the door and make a book now.

Okay, off to do some plotting :) Really looking forward to it for a change!

Saturday, November 8, 2008

NaNoWriMo day 8 (evening)

I dragged myself over the 10.000 words mark today - I was utterly stuck on an utterly dull stretch of novel, I could hardly believe how dull it was. I mean, I have all these things piling up in my head that will happen later, but they just don't happen yet. And somehow there seemed to be endless potential for the characters to do hardly anything at all, which seemed very life-like to me, which in turn started to make me question what I am doing with my life. As it is, I am spending my days doing pretty much nothing except writing a novel, trying in vain to get to the exciting parts, so in a way it's not to surprising that nothing happens in the novel neither except everyone somewhat vaguely expecting exciting things to happen.
It's a dreadful state of affairs, which I decided to get out of by writing something much like this:
Then some more boring stuff happened, which they didn't mind because life was kind of going on in ways they mostly enjoyed, and in fact it was all kind of a calm before the storm thing which they did not at all realise was foreshadowing great events that had not as yet transpired, so they didn't even know which bits of their blissfully boring existence were foreshadowing anything at all.
Until one night, when Pebble heard desperate screaming coming from all over the place, which was totally unexpected. Something dreadful must have happened very suddenly.

Then I wrote who was screaming and why, and when I felt the dreadful drudge coming on again I switched to italics and wrote a short account of the very exciting stuff that's going to happen next, and I intend to turn those italics into some half decent writing tomorrow and then end up with more exciting italics for the next day, and so on, and if it all is just exciting stuff, doesn't hang together and ends after 30.000 words then I'll go back and write more boring stuff between the lines.

NaNoWriMo day 8

I knew this would happen. My non-competitive streak is telling me that there is no point in trying to write 50.000 words in a month to get a little thing that says "winner" from an internet robot instead of just writing a novel in whatever time it takes, and in however many words. The rest of me is telling my non-competitive streak that this isn't a competition, even if they offer to give us a little thing that says "winner" (which we don't have to take if it makes us feel tricked). It's just a neat way of motivating ourselves to get some writing done and pretending that it'll all be over in the foreseeable future (December). It's kind of like exercise, where you do so and so many repetitions. And remember the time when we spent years writing that mad novel about rats that was the weight of a large brick in the end. It's actually veeeeeeery sensible to aim to get it over with in a month.
"Argh," it says. "I hate exercise."
"It's not a perfect world," says the rest of me. "Let's do the next 3000, you're allowed to do an improvised dream sequence if we get stuck."
"Ok then."

Friday, November 7, 2008

NaNoWriMo day 7 (morning)

So! Yesterday I took a break from Novel-writing, because the day before I allowed myself to be tricked by the word-count widget into writing so much I felt ill. I just kept going back and logging more all through the day, didn't listen to anything anybody said and by the end of the day almost walked into walls, I was so tired out. And all just because the little square of the word-count widget had gone bright red for that day, and was refusing to change colour however much I added. - I think it might be running on the wrong time zone or something. So I'LL get rid of that and calculate my own aims for now - I'll just see how many more words I need to write, then I'll count how many days are left, take away one day a week to have a break from it, and calculate the required total-per-writing-day from that... and magically, it's exactly 2000 words per day. Hah. That is neat.

What I did do yesterday is play "Little Big Planet", the new PS3 platforming/world-building game, and it truly is as lovely as they say. It took me right back to childhood memories of changing the attic into a ghost-ride with my friends, with cardboard ghosts and teddybear monsters on strings. It's wonderful. Just before midnight I made a huge sheep out of sponge, painted it white and climbed all over it, shouting "HA HA I defeat you, giant sheep" until Alexis told me I might want to get out of his room and let him sleep maybe.

Thursday, November 6, 2008

NaNoWriMo day 6 (what??? Already?!?)

I haven't written a word today. And since 'Little Big Planet' arrived in the post this morning, I am not completely sure I will...

Stone Foxes

Hello my native English speaking friends... can you help me out with something here? I have started to google some of the made-up expressions I am using liberally in the book I'm writing, and as expected things that sound interesting mean all the wrong things already.
Now the main thing is: would you say that "Stone Fox" these days primarily means
- A very foxy lady
- The title of a classic kids' novel (and film)
- Sounds like a native Indian sort of name to me
- Oh my Goodness! That's so RUDE! I'll tell you in an email, don't for goodness sake use that expression ever!

And also, if I use the expression "The Promised City" in a Fantasy context, will I unwittingly be talking about New York, Jerusalem or some other specific place and annoy a whole lot of people without meaning to?

Thanks... I just want to know if I have to change these early on, and if I can use "Pebble Stone Fox" as a working title...

More Foxes

Hm yes, a whole lot of foxes expected today again... I haven't quite worked out when to do the writing today, there's all sorts of other things to be done. I guess the good thing is that I can think about what to write while I'm running errands...

Wednesday, November 5, 2008

Publisher's Weekly

Well, this is mostly for my Mum & Dad: if you scroll down a lot on the Publisher's Weekly Best Books List, to the Picture Books section, you'll see my very Cats-In-This-Book! And yes, that's pretty good!
And anyway, and I forgot to say because I was stuck head-down in this November novel: it's out! It's out! Oh yeah!
There's supposed to still be a proper launch of sorts, so I'll make a bigger noise about it when that happens.
But you can buy it now and have it tomorrow! Whey-heyy!

I'm going to go out and buy some chocolate on that.

NaNoWRiMo day 5

Nothing to be said about day five, except that I somehow pootled through another wodge of words. Feeling a bit lazy about it, I even just described a possibly important scene that I could have written in lots of words because I thought it would just slow stuff down to spend time there if it turns out that it wasn't important after all... and I can always go back and extend it later. I think if I get to do a second draft eventually I'll know what should be happening in all these scenes I'm writing where characters are just faffing about on their way to the next big event that somehow shouldn't happen quite yet, but I'll make it happen tomorrow because that's been enough faffing. It's hard not to write too much faffing, since that's what seems to take up most time and space in real life. Anyway, first session that didn't turn up anything interesting at all (I think). Pah.

Long Night

Rrr. I am propping my eyes up with coffee spoons. I ended up going to bed at midnight after doing some late-night work on the new picture book, and then kept the radio turned on and listened to America. I was still very worried that it would turn out that in the end, that there might still too many places where people would just not even consider Obama as an option. I thought of the silly casual racism I remembered from growing up in a part of Germany where back then black people were still stared at by small white children in the street. I was thinking how brilliant it would be if small children of any colour anywhere in the world would see a black man running America. - I fell asleep at some point and when I woke up in the very early morning the radio was still on, and Obama was talking...
Well, I am happy. Thanks for voting, you guys over there :)

Tuesday, November 4, 2008

For goodness sake... NaNoWroiMo day 4!

And how many words do I have? Not even 5000! This is going to be a late night, I can tell. I completely overslept, mostly because somehow I slept pretty well for a change. Normally I wake up some time after midnight with a start, from some sort of terrifying nightmare that I can't remember at all but to do with having forgotten to do something important, and then I can't sleep for some hours, and then I fall asleep and have completely mad exhausting dreams until the morning. Every night, no matter what I eat or do or drink or whether I exercise or read. But last night I actually more or less just slept. No idea why. In the morning I figured I better stock up on sleep while it's on offer, and so now I missed my morning writing time, and had to go to town and back, the sun is down already, and I really want to get some paneling done for the new picture book... luckily I was thinking about the novel on the train, and so I think I might be able to put down a thousand words and then do the rest of todays' work in front of a movie on the sofa. And I still don't know at all if this novel is any good, but I know I am writing something enjoyable (to me) every five hundred words or so, and that can't be bad.
I think I might do a time-warp and remember what I was like when I was still in school - staying up most nights with a big put of tea on a stove and writing or drawing or making stuff until three or four or six, because I knew I couldn't sleep anyway, and that way I felt that when I fell asleep in class the next day at least it was for a good reason. These days, I almost enjoy sleepless nights. The ones I hate are the ones when I am almost asleep, or just dreaming and waking up going GAH! and dreaming again, and it feels like I imagine a bad office job.

By the way, I've been listening to the latest Emiliana Torrini album for days now, it's great! I'd been meaning to get it, but never got to the record shop, and I wasn't sure I'd like it... well now I got it, and I'm glad!

Argh, ok, switching on the writing machine...

Monday, November 3, 2008



Doodled these two guys in-between things. Otherwise, drew a selection of suitcases. Tomorrow, I'll draw washing-machines. Strangely, it's all paid work.

NaNoWRiMo day 3 (still)

Just hit 4000 words. More unexpected things are happening, and I did go back to edit this and that, but I also left in a not very successful scene written from a different perspective because it might come in handy later. Seems I might be sticking with the same character all through after all, which is unusual for me. I like switching view-points, but this time it just seems likely to cause confusion.
Here's a few sentences or so for you:

The wailing rose again. “Is this it?” Pebble whispered, although she knew it wasn't the call, but she didn't know what else it meant, and it frightened her.
“No, this isn't it, stupid.” Tarmac licked his nose nervously. “They are still making prayers, so that the stone people will... so that they will have a look.”
Pebble curled up more tightly, because she was thinking about what the stone people would look at. They would look at her tonight. She was secretly hoping that they would not listen, and stay asleep tonight. The wailing rose into a shrill choir, and it seemed to come from all corners of the sacred yard now. The stone people would have to be deaf or in a very bad mood about something not to hear it.
“Are they sacrificing?” she asked.
“What?? Where did you even get that word from again?”
“Dunno,” Pebble said. “Someone said they would be sacrificing. What's sacrificing?”
“They are not sacrificing,” said Tarmac.

I really wish I had time to edit some of the repetitions and stuff, it irks me even to see it here, all that raising wailing and stuff. Gnnnnnnh! Ignore. Ignore. Keep writing.
Anyway, I have to stop for now and actually do some contracted work, painting some cats with suitcases, to be precise.

NaNoWriMo morning day 3

I actually had some fairly decent sleep last night, which was amazing... until suddenly there was this mighty crash and I woke up in the dark and couldn't fall asleep again, and then the flashing lights were on my shutters, and I did take a look and saw that someone had crashed into the side of a delivery van and split it right open. It's an accient-prone corner, this, and by now I don't wake up thinking WHAT??? any more, but "That sounded like a bin in the road again" or "uh oh, someone got the street-light", and most of the time "Phew, didn't hit the house".
Anyway, it was six in the morning, and I couldn't really sleep very much more, and so now I am NaNoWRiMo-writing already. Just logged last night's words, and noticed they have this widget:

where I can check (or show off) how well I did every day in the month, hah, funny. Except at the moment it is just plain lying.

Anyway, back to writing more words now.

Sunday, November 2, 2008

NaNoWRiMo day two

I just went past the 2000 word mark on my NaNoWriMo novel... I am pleased how it's coming on, mostly, but it's hard to make myself write a certain number of words like this without going back and trimming it down every few paragraphs. I normally check over what I have written at the end of the day and chuck out a lot of adjectives and sentences that made sense at the time of writing but have already become obscure, and I often decide to throw out a whole scene halfway through if it won't get going. I don't like the idea of a whole wodge of wordiness growing under my hands day by day... but there's no way I can get 50000 words written in a month if I keep hacking bits out all the time. It's tempting to just mark the rubbish ones out somehow and count them in, but I guess I'll have to trust myself that I can edit it all in the end... maybe that's partly the point of this exercise.
Anyway, due to this restraint I feel like the story isn't moving on at all, but that it's just endless exposition so far and could be done in a couple of sentences. But maybe that's not true... and maybe it doesn't matter at all. Who cares if my 50000 word novel will shrink to a short story eventually?
Oh, it's not easy though! Every thought that comes along now wants writing down to make up the day's word count... on the other hand, thoughts come in fast, for later parts of the story mostly.
Anyway, I'll try and do a few hundred more now before dinner.

Saturday, November 1, 2008


I hollowed out the pumpkin, and then I found I was creatively worn out for the day.
Luckily Alexia visited and carved it for me.
We ate roast vegetables with green tomato chutney, and a bottle of red wine, and then she had to leave, but we decided she should accessorise with the pumpkin because it would have been a shame not to carry it through London at night.


And today it is the first of November, and I actually have to start a new novel right now and write over a thousand words, and I am not at all sure where it all starts, although I know where it ends. I'll just start somewhere green, I think.

Friday, October 31, 2008

Sudden disappearance

I just pulled "The Sleepwalkers" off the web - and one page away from the conclusion of the first story, too! How rude of me!!!!
But it's for a good reason... I am working the comic up into a longer story, and once that is done it will return... it just seemed a bit silly to have it dangle around in the meantime!
I'll keep you posted!


Gosh, the days are short suddenly. I baked a load of double chocolate chip cookies, which have been very useful in meetings and such, and I knitted a toy for a friend, and now I think I'll carve this year's pumpkin in time for this Halloween evening, which I will very happily spend playing Fallout3 (it's out at last!) and eating roast root vegetables. Seems like a good couple of days, this.
And tomorrow I shall attempt to write the first two thousand words or thereabouts of my NaNoWriMo novel.

Wednesday, October 29, 2008



My business cards just arrived!
This is the first time I've had them printed (by instead of photocopying them, and I am so pleased!
I like the paper-stock, the matt varnish, and I like that it is from sustainable source, and I like that it comes in a nice recycled box. And I picked different pictures for different sorts of people - crafty contacts and arty contacts and sock-monkey-appreciation contacts- Am I feeling professional right now? Yeah! I'll start giving them to people today!

Writing Approaches...

It's mere days until I'll be staring my NaNoWriMo effort... (and you can still join! Go go go!)
I've decided to write a story about foxes, and have already been doodling and thinking and reading a book that I found in the basement of a bookshop in Charing Cross Road, "On the Trail of the Fox".


My plan is to finish the book within the month, as promised, and then get an edited draft to my publisher. I think it's time to try and sell a novel... might as well be this one! Wish me luck, and I'll be posting bits and pieces as I go! If they don't want to publish it I'll just stick it on my site as a freebie, so any way it goes you'll be reading about foxes from me sooner or later :)

inky things

Some Old Pictures

I just found this picture on the internet - I drew it in college, and it was lingering on a portfolio site I set up back then.
I remember there was a story to go with it, but I never got around to writing it.

Here's another one from the same site:

I think I might look through my college sketchbooks soon again to see what else lurks and lingers there...

Tuesday, October 28, 2008

Some Spare Time

Today is the first day in many days that I have time to sit down and doodle. I've not drawn anything for so long that I need to explain to myself again how it's done...


I ordered a load of Deleter drawing nibs some time ago. They are great! Without wanting to encourage such things: if you don't treat them with respect, they'll work anyway. If they get a bit clogged, you can clean them easily. They hardly ever drip. They are incredibly sturdy, too. Before I discovered them I got through twelve nibs in twelve artworks. These guys seem so far immortal and I really am not very kind to my drawing nibs (poor things). They are a bit hard to get, but sells them (I feel like advertising them because they are a great little shop, friendly and quick and useful).


I'm especially enjoying drawing Really Muddy Things, and putting watercolour right on the wet black ink.


Sometimes people tell me off for that and say it looks dirty and horrible, but I anjoy these more than anything else... I must write a story all about mud some time so I can illustrate it like this.
I opened the window after I'd drawn this and the water-pot got knocked, and the ink ran, so I had to put a patch on it.

kitty patch

Ah well.

Then I went out to buy food for Halloween guests.
There was a rain cloud approaching, but it passed.


On the way back my trolley was very heavy what with all the root vegetables, so I had more time than usual to look around... there are still a lot of fading flowers about, and assorted small seeds and fruit on the pavements.

passion flower


And in the shop downstairs, the shopkeeper is very meticulously drawing bats on the window with a big black pen. She's probably finished by now.