Saturday, 1 August 2009

Pirates in the Bottom Drawer

In common with most people these days, I have an un-published novel. Mine's a 70k word seafaring adventure about trickery, treasure and pirates, directed at nine to twelve-year-olds. Did you notice the word pirates? Something else I seem to have in common with most people these days. Arrrr.

Being visually-minded, I can't help wanting to illustrate my own story. Not in a full blown way, but if ever Puck and Ogwe get into print I'd like to do some chapter heading line drawings, and maybe some elements that can be incorporated into the cover. Maybe. Illustrating books for this age group is a thorny business. But since I am now entirely free of any editorial control in this matter, here's a colour sample.

 The pencil line is strong now that I have found a new approach to reinforcing it in Photoshop (though still too heavy in parts), and the colours are taken from scanned images (and toyed with so that I won't get into any copyright issues) and not actual fabric. I have also thought more thoroughly about the apparent scale of these textures in relation to the drawings they colour. I'm pleased. Click for a closer look.

Now all I need is a suitable approach to backgrounds.


  1. you should really try to get it published

  2. Thanks, Jo. I plan to push it again as soon as possible.

  3. Hullo - just discovered you... it is so depressing that even after you have got an agent you still have work can you bear to go I'm being silly. But it is food for thought. I will return. Great image, btw.

  4. Hi Rachel

    Thanks for commenting.

    The sad truth (I think!) is that it's quite normal for first novels to be rejected, especially on their first outing. One publisher did suggest that could I resubmit it once I had addressed some of the criticisms they made, but I think sending them something new instead would be a stronger statement of long-term intent. My hope is that I can come back to the pirates once I have something else published.

    I have an agent by virtue of being an illustrator, though I'm lucky because she is also a literary agent. But that doesn't guarantee anything, especially in a recession. For picture book texts the take-up rate is supposed to be something like one-in-three. I hope it's not the same for novels, but it might be:-/

  5. Maybe I should go back to the painting, until the recession's over, lol! I have a few finished novels now - waited 10 years before it ocurred to me I might be able to make a living from this - and obviously it's going to take a lot more time. But that's ok. I'll just keep on sending stuff anyway. At some point my name will ring a bell! :)

  6. I can see from your blog that you write well, Rachel. Your big break may be closer than you think.

  7. I really appreciate that, thank you. And for visiting my blog. It's difficult to keep in mind why I started blogging sometimes, and not just get carried away by the daftness of it all!

  8. Hi Thomas,
    It's me again, trying to let you know how much I'm enjoying reading your blog and finding out about some of the tricks of the trade!
    Hilary, my sister, is also having trouble sending you off a comment but if this one is published then I've got it cracked and can inform sis illico.
    Keep up the good work and, by the way, I've got a nice treat for you next time you all come for lunch. Yes, a nice juicy steak de cheval.I've found a new chevaline butcher not far from the one you so dearly loved. In fact, i wonder if it's not his younger brother as they do seem to look alike and smoke the same lethal cigarettes as they carve up the horsemeat and chop the bones. Bon appetit! :-)

  9. Ha ha, thanks, Rose.

    I'm glad you are coming through loud and clear. I look forward to that steak - I'll have my best double-strength mustard at the ready. And a spear.


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