I’ve known Renita for a while now. Originally from America, Renita now lives in Wigtown, which the book town in Scotland, with the most stunning views across the estuary. When I’ve performed at the festival, the children have all been whipped up to a frenzy by Renita, who welcomes them in and “settles them down” [...]
Tag: Axel Storm
You know I’ve been doing my website for thirteen years now and I find it hard to get myself excited about finding artwork and scanning it and treating it in photoshop and laying it out for a webpage. I’ve been there and done it so many times now. It’s been quite hard to summon up the energy to plan the site and work out what should be in it, especially as I now have my schedule organised with my editor for the next project – next project?! Don’t I get a moment to draw breath?
Then I had a brilliant idea. Why don’t I do a video website? That’s much more fun to do and I hope a lot more fun to engage with that a load of static or animated illustrations on a webpage. So that’s what I’m going to do.
I had a great time at Cheltenham Literary Festival this morning where I filled in for James Mayhew, who has tonsillitis and was not well enough to talk to two hundred and something children.
I took a lot of artwork from my new Axel Storm books. with the aid of a visualiser – a sort of digital overhead projector, I showed hundreds of drawing I did while trying to decide what Axel would look like.
Often I gain insights into my work when asked questions at school sessions. I had one such question today.
“Do any of your characters look like you?” I was asked. It dawned on me where Axel’s “mono eye” comes from. I was born with a cyst over my bright eye. As a teenager I grew my hair to cover it. I remember being quite proud of my cyst, but now I know what teenagers are like, I think I was probably quite self-conscious about it and covered it up. Next to this this early pencil drawing of Axel I had written the enigmatic phrase, “Analyse this!” There must have been something about the drawing that I thought needed further investigation. If you look at the inset photo of me above, black-eyed after I’d had my cyst removed, I think you can see a resemblance. Axel’s hair is over his left eye, but that’s not how I’d see it in the mirror.
So the answer is, Yes! Sometimes I do look like my characters – and the way I write them is often how I’d like to be or how I’d like to think I am!
Phew! The artwork for my sixth Axel Storm book is finished. Sea Wolf is probably the most exciting, involving dangerous rescues ant se and general danger of loss of life and limb! Printing and publishing schedules mean that I’ll hardly have time to draw breath before beginning the last two books, which need to be finished by the end of the month, because I’m spending the whole of Children’s Book Week in Gurnsey this year. An exciting few weeks coming up.
Here’s a video of me drawing a couple of spreads from my upcoming book, Axel Storm – Sea Wolf. Hope you enjoy it.
More particularly, make them read books. Of course, as a children’s author, I’m bound to say that, aren’t I? (In fact I want you to click the picture or this link here and go to Amazon and buy a copy of my Axel Storm series for boys, right now!) But there is another reason you should get your son reading books.
Books wire the brain up in a particular way. Nothing else does it the same way. Radio encourages pictures in the mind. The TV and internet increase general knowledge.
A book is linear. It requires effort to go from one end to the other. Along the way the author reveals a plan, a story or an argument, in a carefully constructed and considered way. The effort exerted in following the line of a book actively wires the brain – it makes connections that are strong and remain. TV and computers flash and zip about, with no time for contemplating the story thread or the knowledge gained. Other media are desperate to hold your attention and so scream for your attention.
How many times have you been so absorbed in a film or TV programme that you have been moved to tears, happiness or wonder at the end. With not a moment’s hesitation, the announcer jumps in, yelling at you not to miss a soap next tuesday – the spell is broken – the moment is gone for ever. Once upon a time they used to wait for the credits to finish, now they start flashing messages up before the credits have even begun to roll!
When your son reads a book, they are one to one with the mind of the author. Authors are real people. The author imparts all their time, knowledge and experience in a moment of personal connection. I know this from the things kids tell me. Their eyes defocus as they remember the book of mine they’ve read. In their minds they are transported to the cozy place where they read it, remembering all the characters they met and befriended in the book.
Just this morning, as I was walking in the woods, I saw a pile of sticks and was reminded of my old, curmudgeonly friend Eeyore from the Winnie the Pooh
stories – he’s been locked in my mind, as real as any other friend I had forty something years ago, and I can recall him just like that, in all his gloriously grumpy detail, while walking in the woods. I don’t remember TV stuff as well from those days.
So, do yourself a favour and get your son books to read. (Do me a favour and buy books from my own online store!) Read to him, every night before he goes to bed. Talk and discuss the books he reads, make him realise how special books are, and in ten years time, you’ll find he’s learned how to learn stuff from books – and all those books will have filled his head with knowledge and will have wired brain brain up so that he will be ready and hungry to go to University and excel. Go to it – now!
The first copies of my Axel Storm books arrived this morning. It’s always a mega thrill to open up a box of new books and see all the hard work having come together.
Hooray! I’ve just finished the artwork for Axel Storm – Diamond Moon. This should be out next month! I hope we are still on schedule. The first two books should be coming out any day.
Actually, my original schedule had me writing it in January, but these things tend to slip. We’ve got the production schedule working okay now – a bit tight, but doable.
Shark Island draws quite a lot on my experiences in Guam, where I went visiting schools some eighteen months ago. I went snorkeling on the reef there and had a fantastic time. Axel has just found treasure under the seabed in between nearly getting eaten by sharks and being swept away in the undertow!
I just found the picture of me on the Isle of Wight when I was about six. I must have been thinking about this story since then. It takes me a long time to think about things!