I’m originally from Liverpool way but I now live in Leeds, where I illustrate and write from my studio in an old mill. I’m very lucky as my dog, Olive can come to work with me, when she isn’t stealing stuff from people’s bins she’s a great source of inspiration.
My illustration and writing journey began as a child, mostly in my local library (thanks to my dad, a lifelong library user). I thought the library was amazing, you turn up and get to take home a pile of books – for free! What could be better than that? Hmmm. Maybe something deeply mysterious happening to you! The sort of stuff that happened to the Famous Five in their school summer holidays. (I always hoped mystery was just around the corner after reading those books.)
Bored by the lack of real-life mystery and feeling inspired by a particularly thrilling issue of The Beano (aged eight) I decided to have a stab at creating my own comic.
It was a publishing success. I sold three copies to some friends who lived on my street and I knew it was the right decision to abandon my dreams of being an archaeologist (Indiana Jones and the Temple of Doom stylee) and focus on having a job that involved drawing all day. I wasn’t sure what exactly that was called and I had a brief flirtation with becoming a shoe designer.
I studied illustration BA and MA illustration at the University of Central Lancashire. This is where I realised you can actually be a children’s book illustrator for a living and was fortunate enough to win second prize in the Macmillan Prize for Picture Book Illustration in 2002.
Since then I’ve illustrated for a range of brilliant authors and had my debut series as both a writer and illustrator – Mariella Mystery Investigates – published.
When I’m not doodling*, writing and drawing I work with children and teachers, sharing my own journey and inspiring and igniting a love for reading. For more information on my school and festival workshops click here.
*Doodling, in my opinion, is the best way to begin a story. Even a wonky scribble can be a starting point for an imaginary world filled with exciting characters. From small things big things can grow…