Our Bedtime Story Competition is back for another round! This year's theme is feelings and one lucky young writer will be in with the chance to have their story illustrated and published as a real picture book. We're thrilled to let you know that the illustrator of this year's competition will be the brilliant Lucy Fleming. Lucy has illustrated loads of fun picture books so this year's Bedtime Story Competition winner's story will be in good company! To learn a little bit more about Lucy and what she's looking forward to seeing in your stories this year, we asked her a few questions and she shared a photo of her writing space with us.
What (or who) inspired you to become a children's book illustrator?
When I was very young I wanted to write stories, just like the wondrous books I would read. I wanted to invent and share fantasy adventures with the world. But, as I grew up, I discovered a new way to share those musings - by drawing them! One of my inspirations was Beatrix Potter who both wrote and beautifully illustrated her tales. I was inspired to combine my love for creating art and stories and pursue becoming an Illustrator.
What's your illustrating process?
It always starts with the character, and although I love small details and setting the scene, the character is always the first, how old or young and what colour their hair will be, are they even human or something else? The world then begins to form around them as I draw!
What helps you get creative?
I definitely like a peaceful space to work in, and a comfortable chair is a must! If I'm stuck creatively, I find listening to music always gives me a boost while I'm drawing. But sometimes, a good walk or sitting amongst nature in the garden with a cup of tea helps me come back feeling fresher and ready to create.
Do you get an idea of what the characters will look like as soon as you read a story?
I do, sometimes I manage to capture that perfectly onto paper the first time I sit down to draw them. Although, more often than not, as I'm drawing them and seeing the idea come to life on paper I realise that I will need to change things and I need to be open to exploring different ideas.
What do you look out for in a good character?
I like rambunctious and fun characters... I think we all do! They're great fun to draw. But, I do have a soft spot for more subtle personalities and quieter characters. I love an unexpected story, and sometimes it's not the adventurous who have the wildest adventures!
The theme of this year's Bedtime Story Competition is feelings, how do you usually go about showing how characters are feeling in your illustrations?
Expression is definitely the main thing which needs to look right, the face is so emotive that it all begins there. But, I also find colour to be a powerful tool for really enhancing that feeling. As well as shadow and light.
What's one thing every story needs?
Heart. It's hard to put your finger on, but you know it when it's there.
What does your drawing space look like?
My drawing space is very plain and simple.
What advice would you give to young writers developing their characters?
Think about the people you know in real life, the people you've met, or who you've seen on the bus or walk to school. Your siblings, cousins or classmates. Think about how different they each are. Who is funny, or shy, or both? And try to make your characters just as unique, and think about how they would talk or act in a situation. But, most important is to have fun inventing your characters!
What's your favourite bedtime story and what makes a good bedtime story?
The Snowman by Raymond Briggs. Mostly because it's perfectly magical for those cold winter evenings as the excitement for Christmas approaches.
If you could be best friends with any character from a book, who would you choose and why?
I'd love to be best friends with Professor Dumbledore from Harry Potter. We'd enjoy a butter beer or two whilst inventing clever, but pointless, magic spells.
Tell us a random fact about yourself.
I have trypophpobia, which is the bizarre aversion to groups of small holes. Weird, I know!
If you know a child aged between 5 and 11 who loves to tell stories then writing an entry for the Bedtime Story Competition is a fantastic project for them. Now you've heard all about this year's illustrator, you can find out a little bit about this year's Head Judge Giovanna Fletcher on blog too.