It’s Friday, and we have a very special treat in store for you as we share the first in a series of interviews with our talented illustrators! This week, our Picture Book Agent Helen Mackenzie Smith caught up with the lovely Nicola Kinnear to find out why she started drawing and writing for children, where she gets her inspiration from, and what she’d like to work on next…
1. What inspired you to start drawing and writing for children?
I grew up loving the series, The Edge Chronicles written by Paul Stewart, spending ages on each page admiring each of Chris Riddell’s gorgeous and intricate illustrations. I have also always automatically used narratives in my work and through a couple of University projects I learnt how exciting it was to use storytelling in children’s illustration and picture books. It was during my final year project when I made a picture book that I discovered I wanted to continue exploring children’s illustration.
2. What comes first: The drawing, the character or the story?
I find that it is always different for me. Sometimes, it happens all at once, I can think of the story and I can immediately see a character, and I can draw through these ideas quickly. More frequently, I have to work hard to develop a character that feels right for the story. In some cases a character I might have sketched, sparks an idea for a story.
3. What artist’s tool could you not work without?
I would be lost without my 0.9 mechanical pencil!
4. If you weren’t an illustrator/author what would you like to be?
I’ve always wanted to have a creative job, and before I knew I wanted to be an illustrator I would have loved to design and make costumes for films.
5. If you could collaborate with any other writer/illustrator, past or present who would it be and why?
I think it would be amazing to collaborate with Neil Gaiman, as I’m a huge fan of his books. His stories have such a great mix of characters, fantasy elements and a certain darkness to them, which would be exciting to illustrate.
6. Who is your favourite fictional bear?
I think it has to be Winnie the Pooh.
7. What’s your favourite word/colour?
Turquoise is my favourite colour.
8. What was your favourite book when you were growing up?
I remember reading or listening to Can’t you sleep Little Bear? by Martin Waddell a lot when I was younger and also Where the Wild Things are by Maurice Sendak.
9. What’s one thing most people don’t know about you?
I’m crocheting myself a jumper. It’s stripy of course.
10. What has been your career highlight so far?
Working with Piccadilly Press and Mina Bach on ‘The Scandalous Sisterhood of Prickwillow Place’ was amazing.
Bonus question: what classic book of any genre would you most like to illustrate?
Bonus answer: Peter Pan would be a lovely story to illustrate…