Sunday, 17 April 2011
London Book Fair
Well, on Wednesday I made my way on my own (something I've not done before) to the London Book Fair at Earl's Court. My was it big or what. It was held in both courts but the children's publishing was in no 1. Of course, trust me, I went in the wrong entrance and ended up walking round and round trying to find the room for the first talk. I managed to get there just in time before it started and got a seat at the front. It was a talk about school libraries with a panel of the school librarian of 2010, Gillian Harris, who helped Alan Gibbons with the Campaign for the Book, and authors Francesca Simon (Horrid Henry fame) and MG Harris (Joshua Files fame). The general gist I got is that school libraries should be a safe, fun, welcoming, educational and creative place for pupils to go to and value books. MG Harris said that she'd been in a library where the library was like a cupboard or a small room with mainly computers in. School libraries can only be creative with a creative librarian but this is difficult as it costs money and in this economic climate, well... After that talk I got talking to a librarian from Suffolk who mentioned that she was planning to do author events with her groups of primary and secondary pupils and would I be interested. I wasn't sure and said it could be challenging. I gave her my card and don't know if I hear from her. I now know that I need to expand my repertoire of talks/workshops. Have been thinking of this. Then I made my way back downstairs to the toilet (didn't have time when I arrived) and to the next talk which was a chat with Anthony Browne and Lauren Child. They were asked questions by Nicolette Jones. They both like each others' work as they are so different with Anthony working with pad and pencils and Lauren on computer. Lauren's work is minimalist and Anthony as a lot of detail in his. Anthony was inspired to draw by surrealism paintings and Lauren by house arrangements like Habitat. Lauren is inspired by TV as she watches more whereas Anthony is inspired by movies as he went every week as a child. Lauen said that what she draws is everything to do with her whereas Anthony said the voice of the author is just as important as the illustrator. Neither intended to be illustrators to start with but Lauren said she applied to do illustration at college, but didn't work out so went for something else. Then she saw Edward Scissorhands and got interested in film. Drew something and gave it a friend's mother who was in fashion and got a reply that she should draw and write. She did Clarice Bean to stop her imitating others. Anthony did graphic design as he wanted to be a painter. Then he became a medical illustrator and drew a picture book, which part of was taken to be his first book about a magic mirror. Lauren tries not to think about her audience as it interferes with her judgement of her work. She only draws things that she loves. She keeps her eye on the market and said that you have to understand what publishers want. If you look about too much you could get too intimated so take a moment to think and your chance may come. Anthony had no sense of market just painted then did it. Said don't aim your work at anyone if you want to try to please someone as you may get lost what you want to do. Lauren writes what she thinks is funny and Anthony does what comes out. Lauren said let go of listening to everyone and be yourself, unless you get a comment the same from a few people and you know you are going wrong. Don't study the market too much. Go on what you feel is right and don't take on all that has been said to you. Anthony said that he was influenced by surrealism, read others books and saw what was being read and knew what was needed. So gist of what they say is never compromise your work if it makes you unhappy and be true to yourself and your instincts. I had lunch then and wandered round and round up and down the children's section before going to the other court to listen to Julia Donaldson and Axel Shaffler talk about their partnership. I couldn't see them that well as it was crowded and I had to sit on a chair at the side. All in all a good but tiring day. Now I know what to expect I can plan better next time.