Goodbye Winter, Hello Spring

Monday, 28 January 2013

National Storytelling Week

Saturday 26th January - Saturday 2nd February 2013

Here at ilovegorgeous we love storytelling. Whether it's hearing inspiring stories, telling an imaginative tale at bedtime or reading beautifully illustrated storybooks, we love the creative opportunities storytelling can offer, and its ability to feed the imagination.

We wanted to discover the inspiration behind the art of storytelling from those in the know, so we asked illustrator and children's author Sarah Dyer to tell us a little bit information about her work and where she gets her ideas.  Sarah has written and illustrated 7 books and her first book Five Little Friends won the Bronze Smarties Prize and has been translated into 8 different languages.

Where do you find the inspiration for your stories?

Most of the time starting a book develops from character drawings in my sketchbooks or the want to draw a particular animal, creature or situation. It is normally a fairly selfish reason; something I'd like to develop further because it inspires me to do so.  If I sit and wait for an idea to come, that never really works for me, as it is too forced and I get far too easily distracted by other things at my desk or on my computer.  Sometimes an idea stems from something overheard - often from a child, or else a particular memory I have from my childhood.

How much does your son influence your writing and illustration?

Stanley has just turned two, and he is inspiring me more and more. I have always read to him, and he has enjoyed books, but now I read him many picture books (mine and others). By reading them out loud properly with all the voices and to a child, it really lets me see straight away what works, why it works and what he is interested in. He is becoming quite a little chatterbox too, so I'm hoping that soon he will start saying so many little stories of his own I'll have a wealth of new project ideas!

Where do your characters come from?

My characters build up alongside the story. I work on them in my sketchbooks and continue to draw them over and over until I feel at ease with them. I sometimes draw characters just for the pleasure of it, and then see if later on I can develop a narrative to suit their character. Recently I have started working with an author, and it has been a great change for me to have someone else to put words to a character I have developed.

What tends to come first, the story or the illustration?
They tend to come at the same time, each develop at different rates alongside each other in my sketchbooks. It doesn't tend to work so well when I focus on just one or the other; it's vital they develop together. The illustrating is more natural for me, and the thing I love most, but I do try not to neglect the words as they need to be the perfect partnership.

What advice would you give budding illustrators and writers?

It sounds obvious, but just keep going! It is such a competitive environment, and although I would never put anyone off wanting to become an author or illustrator, you need to be completely sure it is your passion, to ensure you do it all the time.  It is a good idea to have a good understanding of what is currently popular, and what sells well. Being a regular to your children't book section in your library or bookshop will help you see what's out there at the moment.

Finally, what was your favourite childhood story?
My favourite was a funny little book called 'The Three Little Kittens'. I still have my copy and I love the illustrationgs. I was also a fan of 'Where the Wild Things Are' and 'Each Peach Pear Plum', which now my son, Stanley, adores too.

For more information about Sarah and her work, take a look at her lovely website. We absolutely love her fantastic blog, which has regular posts about her work, gorgeous Stanley, and various tips, recipes and inspiration. Her illustrations are available to buy here, and for regular updates, like her on Facebook and follow her on Twitter. 

National Storytelling Week was founded by the Society for Storytelling, established in 1993, and aims to support and promote the ancient art of storytelling. For more information on various events during National Storytelling Week, visit the SFS website.