I love art and adore illustrated books. Maybe it is a throwback from being a child holding a picture book in my chubby hands, in awe of the story coming alive in the drawings next to the words. The relationship between the author’s words and the artist’s imagery, when they compliment each other is sublime. They become so entwined that you can not think of one without the other. If you see the drawings of Quentin Blake, you automatically think Roald Dahl or if you read the wisdom of Winnie the Pooh, the sketches of E.H Shepherd form in your mind. When I read the words of Tolkien I see the art of Alan Lee followed by scenes from the Lord of the Rings films; a rare case where the producer manages to capture the essence of the novel in its cinematic splendour.
I grew up immersed in several books by Brian Froud and my treasured possession is the illustrated version of The Lord of the Rings and these have heavily influenced how I see my current novel in my mind. As a wannabe writer, I always had images of how I would like my book to look like. Forget planning wedding dresses in idle times in class at school, I was planning my book. I wanted illustrations to bring compliment my story, art to make my book become more than a tale to be read but an object that calls to be placed on the bookcase. My artistic skills are not up to bringing my images alive but luckily a close friend Debra McFarlane has, so we spent our time on wet, cold break times huddled in the art room discussing stories and sketching characters. Maybe one day, I will write a novel worthy of illustrating.
An artist I have come across recently who I love and has the style I envisaged as a teenager is Emily Hare. The world of unique creatures she has created is a wonderful example of how the alchemy of words, drawings and imagination can form magic on the page. Her Kickstarter campaign ends shortly but it is worth looking at. It is already successful and I eagerly wait to hold her book in my not so chubby hands and immerse myself in the world of Strangehollow just as I did with Froud’s Labyrinth.