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Angel Dominguez – Spain’s leading illustrator in the tradition of the Golden Age

NEWS ALERT _ This last week Angel was announced the winner of an award for THE JUNGLE BOOK  as the best illustrated book in Spain for 2010!

Interview with Spain’s leading illustrator, The Golden Age continues!

Angel Dominguez [for sketch of Captain Cleveland]

Angel Dominguez - for sketch of Captain Cleveland

Jennifer: Fans of Dulac and Rackham do not despair, they have a worthy successor. The art of Angel Dominguez has already been compared to the master illustrators of the Golden Age of book illustration. He has the vibrant colour and pattern of Dulac and both the delicate and the quirkily grotesque approach to fantasy characterisation for which Rackham was famous. Angel, I believe you formally started your career in illustration in 1971? What influenced you to choose such a career? Are there other artists in your family background?

Angel: “Curiously and curiously” as Alice says… because my master is Arthur Rackham, but you´re right,  I also love Edmund Dulac. Many people say I´m more like Dulac. In writing on the topic,“The Master illustrator of the Golden Age of book illustration”, you must write about Rackham and Dulac, both have the same quality and charm.

I had an uncle, who was a very good painter in oils. So if you ask about genetics, I think that maybe there is a link, but to be an artist it is really only necessary to love art and all that’s around us.


Captain Cleveland

Captain Cleveland

My strongest influence in choosing to illustrate children’s books was Arthur Rackham without a doubt. I remember, as a child, having a book in my hands with a little and awful reproduction of “The Mad Hatter’s Tea Party” from Alice in Wonderland. It was so bad, I was even unable to read the signature of the artist…but, in that moment, I knew I wanted to do that wonderful kind of art. I fell in love with that imaginative place too, the Mad Hatter and the other characters, with that cottage and background… I felt a lot of sensations, good inner reactions to that technique of painting. I WANTED to do the same! And further, visiting London, I saw a lot of books by that artist… and now I have nearly all his books on my shelves. I did Alice´s Adventures in Wonderland with Artisan of New York and I was the happiest man on Earth. I did The Mad Hatter’s Tea Party with special affection, and the original was sold quickly. People even asked me to paint other ‘originals’ of that same scene.

Jennifer: Who were the artists, you feel, had the most influence on your style as a young illustrator and why?

Angel: If we talk about fantasy (also I´m wildlife artist) my strongest influential artists were:

1st CAVE ART:

All the amazing paintings on the walls of the caves, from Altamira, the best, I think, to all others around the world, in the deserts of Africa, America…

2nd ABORIGENS:

I love each nationality of artists in the wild, for all of the continents, but specially the Australian Aborigines, they painted wonderful art on rocks and on bark… I was so inspired, I also did some paintings in this medium.

3rd COMIC:

Alex Niño, Moebius, Bernie Wrightson, Sergio Toppi, Josep Mª Beá, Carlos Giménez… a lot of the world of comic.

4th BOOK S ILLUSTRATORS:

Arthur Rackham, Edmund Dulac, John Bauer, Beatrix Potter, Kay Nielsen… a lot too.

GENERAL:

Speaking of ART… I must mention too Gustav Klimt, Egon Schiele… and the masters of China and Japan, specially Hokusai, whose books on Manga were one of the most wonderful pieces of art that I ever saw.

Jennifer: What inspires you most in the creation of your art?

Mowgli and the Wolves

Mowgli and the Wolves

Angel: Animals and plants… Nature, Beauty and Love.

A beautiful lady, a nice orchid, a wonderful gorilla, an elephant… the amazing giraffe, that incredible animal which still is with us on this planet. The blue whale… the little mice, the birds… with colors and forms without end.

Aesop's Fables - The Vain Jackdaw

Aesop's Fables - The Vain Jackdaw

To save the wonderful creatures in this amazing world is in the forefront of my interest, so, painting them to show all their beauty and their interaction with their interesting human companions as they appear together in the wild, this is my goal. As Sir David Attenborough said, he likes to show nature’s wonders in order to preserve them; he never liked to do movies withdistressing messages to the innocent bystander who was at home sitting in their chair.” But it´s difficult, you cannot forget, for example, the bushmen of the Kalahari desert, who are disappearing so fast, already it is a challenge to find a family complete – and all due to the diamonds under their feet… and the powerful people don´t know that the true diamonds are these very same tribes folk?

Celtic inspiration - detal

Celtic inspiration - detail

The variation in art inspires me… I see a wonderful book on Celtic art and I WANT to do Celtic art… I see an interesting carved wood or stone… and I would like to do the same. In fact, I saw a picture by Arthur Rackham and that was the start in my career as illustrator, I wanted to do images like that.

Jennifer: Every body is different some can only paint when inspired, some have a daily routine. How do you approach your work?

Angel: Setting down to work is a daily ‘routine’, constantly having in mind the sketch book for each work in which roughs are done when I´m inspired, so, the results come together in the right way. Routine is a word that artists must categorise as ‘forbidden’. In fact, I hate schedules, or… I´m unable to use them, so, let me see… I think that I don´t use schedules nor “daily routine” per se! This, speaking of my work in the fantasy genre only, because I also work on wildlife art, which is the easiest for me, and in this case, routine isn’t a trouble to me. The truly ‘work’ of art is the fantasy world. The inevitable is to work hard.

Jennifer: Does your native region of Basque Country, its geography, history and legends play a part in who you are as an artist and has it influenced your style? I know you travel in Europe and the United Kingdom and Celtic influences are obvious in your love of delicate, interwoven patterns and symbols. How have they come to be part of what is your signature style?

Basque influence - Mari, Queen of the Basque

Basque influence - Mari, Queen of the Basque

Angel: As a Basque, I think that the woods of this country inspired me as much as the wild life of England near where Rackham lived at Arundel, inspired him; he loved trees, me too. The mountains and nature of Basque Country are a magnificent source of inspiration to me, and have been from my childhood. Also the Basque Myths are interesting to me, and our books are feature plenty of faery characters of all kinds, … perfect for my fantasy.

Of course, every time I do a trip, I take a lot of sketches and photographs, I want to carry with me every wonder that I find. I like the Pubs of London a lot, I have photographs of almost every one of them, and I wanted to do a book only on pubs… well, I did some pictures and two of them were printed in my book Diary of a Victorian Mouse. One of these Pubs, The Porcupine, did a set of postcards of my drawing in this book, and they were sold in that Pub. To drink a pint of good beer looking at these postcards was a nice moment.

Also, I knew in England the wonderful Celtic art in the Book of Kells and Lindisfarne Gospels, what a collection of striking calligraphy and patterns and borders… I love all of these wonderful books.

Jennifer: You have an obvious love for storytelling, your pictures talk to the viewer, do you deliberately put layers of story into your works or is this a right brain thing that happens as part of the creative process?

Arabian Nights - Mediterranean, Moroccan and Basque influences

Arabian Nights - Mediterranean, Moroccan and Basque influences

Angel: Both, I think. We the illustrators, well, the artists in general, we put in our creations our acquired culture throughout our lives, spontaneously, and those details which aren´t spontaneous, with hard work. So, the viewer can admire our culture and enjoy our hard work.

Jennifer: You have a very keen eye for detail, especially in your drawings of wildlife. But your animals are more than just good anatomical representations, they leap from the page! Do you carry a sketchbook with you, a camera or do you rely on memory or zoological sources?

Angel: Again, both, every tool helps me. My sketchbook, my camera, my memory… AND… my loved books, movies, stamps and cards. Memory is the less important. Having talked about memory’s role in our work with my artists friends, all agree in this, and more… I know a gag:

-“I heard that memory is the intelligence of fools”… said a man to a friend…

-“Yes, and so it is because I forget everything”.

Always I carry a little sketchbook with me, and when a good idea comes, I draw it… and after, I put it in larger sketchbooks, which often have better drawings than in the same published books!

Jennifer: Can you share with me and the readers some of your earliest experiences with art?

Angel: The very first, as a baby… was an “O” filled with a pencil… I needed to fill that blank room. Well, this book, of my father, is still with me, and I have no better drawings with me from my childhood, which was awful. Due to the work of my father, we were doing trips up and down to many places, and all my drawings from school and that which I did at home were lost… a pity… and they were a lot indeed. This happened to Hokusai too, but worse; all the first pictures, from a wonderful stage in his life, disappeared in a fire that burned his house… and, further, he never was able in to do them again, although he did try to recreate them.

Fedra

Fedra

Further, as a youngster, I did comics, and I won two first prizes, with my creation Fedra, a woman of the future as heroine… and I´m thinking of following up with further work on her some day, not too much later on. I have some good ideas for her, but in the form of a book not as a comic.

Jennifer: You have done some outstanding work illustrating new editions of such all time classics as “Alice in Wonderland” and “Wind in the Willows”. This must have presented some unique challenges.

How do you approach a project such as “Alice in Wonderland” which has already had many well know illustrators put their stamp on it?

Alice and the Duchess from Alice in Wonderland

Alice and the Duchess from Alice in Wonderland

Angel: Easy for me, I love Alice in Wonderland very much… I approached this story WITH EMOTION, which is THE GOAL OF ART, as another artist said, Goyo Dominguez –not a relative. I love this special world created by Carroll so much, that not only do I love the story but each of the characters, of course, the writer, the illustrated editions… England, in a word. I wanted to go to England to feel the origin of the book, the mood… to visit a lot of bookshops, to buy a lot of old books, not only of Alice, but of the Victorian times. Each part of my book is full of plenty of messages.

And, if you look closely at many Victorian times (Carroll’s time), The Great Exhibition was held in the Crystal Palace… The objects on display came from all parts of the world, including India and the countries with recent white settlements, such as Australia and New Zealand, that constituted the new empire.

So, I took advantage of this event which, at that time, had the effect of familiarizing English society with foreign wildlife, to paint the wonderful animals that you have there in Australia into the illustrations.

Rabbit-Send-in-a-Little-Bill

If you ask to me about the very first approach to this book I must say that I had two pencil drawings from many years ago… and my wife said me:

“Angel, you must finish that pair of drawings and send them to a publisher”. I did it… and the answer, from Artisan (WORKMAN, of New York):

-“Please do you be so kind to paint another six watercolors”… and I did it… and the contract arrived fast.

And about other ‘meaning’… I approached the story having in mind a lot of things, not only the many illustrators, and Disney´s wonderful characters, but thinking to do a VERY good work… and I think that I did it, because the edition of 25.000 items were sold.

Also I´m thinking of doing a book on this book… with a lot of interesting things from Carroll´s world, the jokes, characters and details that I included.

[Rabbit sends in a little Bill – Alice in Wonderland]

There Goes Bill

Some details are hidden… as my own wife said, I work a lot on each plate… so much of that spontaneously included ‘meaning’ is lost.

[There goes Bill – Alice and Wonderland]


Mr. Mole - Wind in the Willows

Mr. Mole - Wind in the Willows

As yet I haven’t illustrated The Wind in the Willows… I only drew a pair of watercolors… and already they have been sold in England. They have yet to see the light in the form of a book… who knows, may be that will be my last book to illustrate, as Rackham himself did.

Jennifer: What stories and books hold fondest and earliest memories for you? Do they play, do you think, a part in your choice of projects?

Angel: Of course, Alice is one of them. I read it many years ago, many times… and, as I think that half my soul is English, I understood it very well, and I enjoyed it… specially in thinking to illustrate it.

Other good books to me are:

THE SECRET GARDEN by Frances Hodgson Burnett

Ratty and Mole - The Wind in the Willows

Ratty and Mole - The Wind in the Willows

THE WIND IN THE WILLOWS by Kenneth Grahame

PETER PAN by James Barrie

THE UGLY DUCK, the best tale I think.

CINDERELLA, another strong story.

UNDINE by Baron de la Motte-Fouqué, another of the greatest.

PINOCCHIO by C.Collodi.

GRIMM´S Fairy Tales


Marquis of Carabas [Puss in Boots]

Marquis of Carabas - Puss in Boots

HANS CHRISTIAN ANDERSEN´S Fairy Tales

A lot of books and stories… difficult to remember all of them and not wanting to bore people. And of course these stories are part of my life and my love for my profession.

Jennifer: Where are you hoping to take your art to next? What projects are coming up?

Angel: As I learned from my English friends, it is often preferable not talk about them. This is done with a number of intentions… it prevents the risk of  ideas being copied. To chose a book to do already is an idea, specially when a classic. And to the readers, if the project doesn’t go ahead, that is disappointing news… and if appears as a surprise, it´s good news, something interesting.


Layering and Symbolism - Mowgli and his wolf Mother

Layering and Symbolism - Mowgli and his wolf Mother

I can say that I´m currently working on The Jungle Book by Kipling.  I must get that finished this very month. Also I´m proud to said that I´m working on books with friends from JacketFlap. I´ll find free time to paint good watercolors for good stories that suit my style a lot. I must say that, at JacketFlap, I have found very good friends, not only Tracy and Eric, but others as wonderful models for my pictures. Artists are always searching for good models, and here I found a lot, who were happy to let me draw them. I have a lot of friends as models, not only in Spain, but in the States and in England. It´s funny when I gift some book to them… some have been very touched. One lovely lady cried with joyous surprise when she saw herself portrayed in a color plate in a book on pirates.

Jennifer: Have you ever thought of designing film sets or dabbling in animation? Tim Burton has brought some darker legends to life in an animated film noire for older children. Have you ever thought of doing something like this?

Angel: By the way, there´re a possibility that I can work with Tim in the movie of Alice which he is working on right now!. I´ll keep you posted if this goes ahead.

The Arabian Nights - Silhouette

The Arabian Nights - Silhouette

I have some part of my brain that thinks along the same lines as Burton, but not specially in relation to the dark side of those stories, but the fantasy element. For example, The Legend of Sleepy Hollow also is one of my favourite books, also illustrated by Rackham. Not all are dark, if you see Corpse Bride, you’ll agree that it’s a tender love story. And the main character of The Nightmare Before Christmas is tender too, with the sad or smiling face, long legs, walking and dancing and singing all the time.

Yes, always I loved animated films, specially Disney´s, and movies are part of our lives. And it´s a matter of luck to find someone to work with. For example, also I have a friend who can introduce me to James Cameron´s movies, and the last movie, AVATAR was suitable for me to paint the creatures, but I arrived late to this project and the Blue Lady, the main character I think, is very different than the one I could create… mine would be without tail. I knew the thriller version of this movie due to my American friend, and I envy that wonderful life in other world. Si-Fi is one of my preferences in books and movies. I love the books by Ray Bradbury, I have all of them. And I think that Arthur C. Clarke is good indeed, but I prefer the poet Bradbury, I feel his world as if it were mine. I´m pretty sure that Bradbury is the best writer in the world. I would like to illustrate each of his books or to do all of them in movies.

When I was very young I liked animation a lot, to work in this world was a dream, but right now I like more doing good illustrations to books, or backgrounds and creating characters to the movies.

Anaconda- Front Cover art

Anaconda- Front Cover art

Jennifer: Lastly, Angel, is there a question you would like to answer, something I have not covered? Now is your chance to cover it!

Angel:

Being a book illustrator, I have been fortunate to find a lot of wonderful friends and have had many  unique life experiences. I have fans in England, USA and Australia right now… I traveled to many interesting places, but the most fascinating of them was Jordania, where I met  Queen Rania and I collaborated on  a book with her! Also I´m working in four projects with friends I have met through Jacketflap.

Also I want to express  how grateful I am to the publishers of all the world, without them, we, the illustrators cannot apply our art:

-MICHAEL O´MARA BOOKS and VICTOR GOLLANCZ of London.

-ARTISAN of New York.

-JUVENTUD of Barcelona.

-IBAIZABAL AND ELKAR of Basque Country.

-SHOGAKUKAN of Japan.

Lastly, I wish PEACE in the world… all of us must take advantage of every opportunity to tell how important is to save the world from a sooner end. This interview is such an opportunity.

One of the wisest men in the world, Jose Luis Sampedro, a Spanish writer and a very old and peaceful man, said yesterday on TV in Spain that the end of the world is in the hands of the powerful people but crisis doesn’t damage them, so, they don´t want to look for a solution.

And I add from sayings by the native Americans, the Indians, one of their best sayings, “money can’t be eaten, and that when water is scarce and air becomes unbreathable, there will be no money to fix it.”

TWO EXHIBITIONS OF ORIGINALS by ANGEL DOMINGUEZ
Angel is holding two exhibitions in Britain. The link to the  first is below.

At Salisbury Museum, you can see the exhibition of Angel’s originals of Alice in Wonderfland, together with his illustrations for Narnia and Tales by Hans Christian Andersen.  The items are for sale.

Alice in Wonderland

Down the Rabbit Hole - on sale at "The Wonder of Illustration" Exhibition, Salisbury Museum

Down the Rabbit Hole - on sale at "The Wonder of Illustration" Exhibition, Salisbury Museum

T-Shirts featuring designs based on Angel’s paintings are now available [including of the white rabbit painting to right]. Price: 20 euros.
Quality: Fruit of the Loom, High quality.

The shirts can be purchased by contacting Angel or Carmen Dominguez:

angelilustrador@telefonica.net

mamenpazo@gmail.com

A number of signed prints are also available for purchase. See below:

Mad Hatter's Tea Party, signed print for sale.

Alice dreams... signed print for sale

Down the rabbit hole... signed print for sale

Example of Alice in Wonderland T-Shirts

Angel's Alice in Wonderland now available on t-shirts

Nature study - Butterfly

Nature study - Butterfly

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Ian Beck – Multi award winning illustrator to bestselling author

Jennifer: Hi Ian,

Thanks for agreeing to the interview!

I’ve had a ball tracking through the amazing adventures you’ve had with pen and ink! You have a wealth of

Ian Beck's cover for "Goodbye Yellow Brick Road"

Ian Beck

experience in other arty areas, from designing album covers (including the cover for “Yellow Brick Road”), to advertising, from cards and calendars to murals.

What do you feel this more commercially driven art brought to your work as a children’s book illustrator?

‘Marketing’ is something that seems almost a dirty word to purists but it is an essential part of any saleable product in a competitive marketplace – does the ‘selling’ aspect play any part in your creative process? Should it?

IAN: I began my career as a ‘commercial’ illustrator, making drawings and paintings for anyone who asked, I just wanted to make a living from illustrating. That had been my goal since I was very young and I had noticed ‘spot’ drawings and the like in newspapers and magazines. My ambition had been to do something similar. I spent a very varied and happy twenty years or so in that illustration world. I learned a great deal technically through the trial and error of making drawings for difficult and or demanding clients. I learned patience, and the ability to redraft, remake, remodel, with a smile and good grace. This all helped when I was offered my first children’s book to illustrate (Round and Round the Garden) in 1982. It helped me to be consistent in my coloring, to get the mood of the book as demanded by the editor and designer, a process I was by then very used to. The selling part is obviously important. No publisher wants to make a book that does not sell, nor does any author. I certainly built on my experience in commercial illustration to make my pictures ‘appealing’ if that is the right word. I tried to bring tenderness and charm to my depiction of babies or animal characters. That was how I worked anyway, my commercial work had been influenced by the world of children’s illustration from the word go. I collected illustrated books from my time at Art School, and I still do.

Jennifer: With Heroes like Edward Ardizzone and Harold Jones and a teacher like Raymond Briggs one could say you were always going to end up illustrating children’s books.

What were your favourite books as a child? What images stuck in your mind – were they from books, films or somewhere else? How have these influences shaped your approach to your art?

IAN: I grew up in a house with very few books. Ours was what you would call a ‘blue collar’ family. My father was a milkman, (as was Raymond Briggs’ father) we had a patchy library of mostly old novels, I remember we had volume two of Gone With the Wind, no sign of volume one. The printed images I saw were either in comics, magazines or newspapers. I began my interest by trying to copy those images, often on to the endpapers and flyleaves of the old books that were lying around. Later I joined my local library and began my life long love affair with books and the pictures in them. I started with Hugh Lofting’s Dr Dolittle books. I read all of those in sequence and often reread them too. Later I moved on to Richmal Crompton’s Just William books, and I still read and laugh over those. I think however if there is a single illustration that I remember, that opened my eyes and mind, it was the one by Pauline Baynes, in The Lion the Witch and the Wardrobe, it is of Mr Tumnus out in the snow with his parcels and the street lamp. It still gives me the shivers. I think my own illustration work has been made of so many influences it would be hard for am to untangle them all, but they are all there in some way even if the result is recognizably ‘me’.

Jennifer: The ability to tell a story inside a story as with your book “Five Little Ducks” –How did you set about that now classic ‘Beck’ book?

Was the other story of the fox there from the outset or did it ‘occur to you’ in the way the speaking crow did in Tom Trueheart?

Five Little Ducks by Ian Beck

Five Little Ducks by Ian Beck

IAN: As so often happens, Five Little Ducks began as a quite different book. I was discussing with Judith Elliot, then the overall editor at and founder of Orchard Books, the possibility of a book about night time. I had made some roughs, written out some ideas, but it had stalled. Jill Slotover who was an editor there suggested the rhyme of the five little ducks. I saw it complete at once in my mind, the fox, the brave duckling etc etc. I drew some thumbnail sized color visuals in a sketch book, and that was it, go ahead, and I did. It seemed to flow very naturally and was a very positive experience.

Jennifer: This brings me to the ‘right brain’ process present in much of creativity.

In one interview, you spoke of ‘trusting’ an inner nudge that told you to go with the talking crow, even though never envisaged as part of your original idea for Tom’s story.

How does this work in the illustrative process and is it different to that in the writing process?

How do the two creative processes compare?

IAN: In writing a longer story there is naturally a certain amount of planning but as you work on something the imagination creeps up behind you occasionally and goes, ‘boo, weren’t expecting that were you’? This is just what happened with the talking bird, it seems meant and obvious to me now that Jollity the crow should be there, but he was meant at first just to be a target for Tom to throw a snowball at. Once the notion popped into my head that the bird would speak the book opened up for me there and then. My drawings were always planned more rigorously, I was very much in control of them, I can’t imagine the same leap occurring during the making of a drawing.

Jennifer: I’ve checked out http://www.tomtrueheart.com/ and encourage readers to

The Secret Adventures of Tom Trueheart by Ian Beck

Tom Trueheart: The Secret Adventures of Tom Trueheart by Ian Beck

do ditto! The silhouettes perfectly suit the darker story, but are very different to your style say for example used in “The Teddy Robber” and again from “Puss in Boots”.

How do you decide on your approach to each project?

IAN: The silhouettes were not in the planning of the book at all. I was working on some ideas for the cover of Tom Trueheart with the designer Molly Dallas at Oxford University Press. We had a lot of ideas scattered about on a table, when she remembered that the endpapers I had made for a previous book (The Oxford Nursery Story Book) had used silhouettes. I turned the image of Tom walking with his packstaff into a silhouette and it seemed to click into place at once. It was a short step from that to illustrating the whole book with silhouettes. It was quite a discipline to learn, but a very enjoyable one. So I suppose this approach was unplanned but seemed right. Most of the picture books would be planned with the designer and editor together. They have a valuable input as well after all, quite rightly. Sometimes an editor will say, ‘it would be nice if this book were some thing like this’, and refer to a past book or approach, that certainly happened with The Little Mermaid, I went for the sad and the romantic, the lavish and the wide screen in that book very different to much of my other more graphic output, I imagine for the first and last time.

Jennifer: Any career path is a journey and one might have predicted that having the story teller gift (as demonstrated in “Five Little Ducks”) you would eventually arrive at the point where you wrote your own stories.

Did you always want to do this, or is this a new adventure?

Why now?

IAN: I was encouraged to write my own original story to illustrate by my first editor David Fickling. This became The Teddy Robber, a book still held in affection by readers twenty years later, as I am constantly reminded by teachers and children on

The Teddy Robber by Ian Beck

The Teddy Robber by Ian Beck

school visits.

The urge to write narrative though has been with me from the beginning. When I was a young commercial illustrator I went to creative writing classes. It was my intention to write adult fiction. I wrote a couple of short stories, began a novel, but it all ended in a drawer unresolved, unfinished. The urge was still there, the itch, the frustration if you like, but all necessarily suppressed under my busy drawing schedules, the need to earn a living, growing family life etc. Then the seed for Tom Trueheart was planted and grew a little in the potting shed inside my brain. He lay dormant for a while until, sadly, one of my best friends died. This was a big wake up call, as he was younger than me. ‘Come on’, I thought, ’finish that idea, grow that seedling, do what you really want to do, life is too short’. So then Tom actually got finished, with the encouragement of my agent Hilary Delamere. The publisher liked him and so did several other publishers. He is in ten languages now I think, so sometimes trusting your instinct is the way to go.

Jennifer: Tom‘s second book of adventures “Tom Trueheart and the Land of Dark Stories “ is darker by your own admission. The same applied to the progression of J.K.Rowling’s Harry Potter series.

What led to this?

What were the influences at work when you realized a second book needed to be written?

IAN: The second Tom Trueheart adventure came about by chance. I had not intended to write more than one book while I was busy writing the first, it seemed both

Tom Trueheart and the Land of Dark Stories by Ian Beck

Tom Trueheart and the Land of Dark Stories by Ian Beck

contained, and complete. The first draft ended with Tom confronting the villain Ormestone in a wood and Ormestone turning him into Tom Thumb, ie Tom finally had his own story to complete. My editor Liz Cross read it and said that she didn’t think it was the end of book one, rather she felt it could be the beginning of book two. I was delighted to think that there would be a book two as I had enjoyed writing about Tom so much. Book two needed a new set of stories and characters, there was the unresolved business of Tom’s missing father, maybe he would make an appearance and so on, it all just slotted into place. I used some of those darker fairy story elements, wolves, castles, bats spiders, skeletons, and so on, imagining that the villain would go to where he would be appreciated, and all this with Tom shrunk down to the size of Tom Thumb. It was great fun to do, and I have now nearly finished the third book, provisionally called Tom Trueheart and the Land of Myths and Legends. As you may know Suppertime Entertainment are developing animated films based on the books, so we wait to see what happens next.

Jennifer: How did you feel as an illustrator about someone else doing your illustrative work, as with the book covers for paperback edition in UK [Adam Stower] and the USA edition [Brandon Dorman]?

IAN: It is something of a luxury and a delight to see other artist’s interpretations of my characters and stories. As an illustrator myself you might expect me to be hyper critical, but no, I am very relaxed about it and I very much like what both Brandon Dorman and Adam Stower have done in relation to Tom Trueheart. Just recently, I saw the jacket for Pastworld which is far better than anything I might have done, completely spot on, designed by John Fordham and with an illustration by Paul Young, full of texture and mystery. It was sent to me as a ‘fait accompli’, and I couldn’t be happier with it.

Jennifer: What do we expect to see next?

What about film scripts [ I noted the trailer on your site.]?

What about your own totally Beck picturebooks?

IAN: I have a big novel (in terms of length and ambition) coming out in the summer of 2009. It is called Pastworld. It has taken me four years to develop and complete, Bloomsbury will be publishing. It is a much darker book, aimed at older readers, twelve years and up. A complex book, and hard to sum up in a few words, it is a dark adventure set in what appears to be Victorian London. I suppose you would perhaps categorize it as ‘Steampunk’, there are airships, and murders, and strange passions. It has grown out of my obsession with London, the city I have lived in for forty years, with the science fiction novels of H G Wells, and movies and all sorts of other things muddled together. It may surprise some of my readers, even shock them. It is intended as an older read, it is nothing like Tom Trueheart, and it is not at all cute.

After that I am writing a novel for Oxford provisionally called The Hidden Kingdom, in which the hero is thrust into a sudden drama and the reader discovers the truth as the story develops and at the same time that the hero does. It is set in a mythical place and time and will I hope explore love as one of the subjects.

As to films, I wrote a short story for adults called The Summer House. A young film maker read it and wanted me to adapt it as a screenplay for a short film. I did the adaptation and the film was shot in France two summers ago. Through the magic luck of casting the director Daisy Gili, got Talulah Riley, fresh from the film of Pride and Prejudice as the young female lead, and a boy called Robert Pattinson as the young male lead. Rob of course is playing Edward Cullen in the film of Twilight which just opened ‘big’. So our little 13 minute film now has the added bonus of two rising stars. My son has a film making company and he kindly makes book trailers for me, we are looking forward to making the trailer for Pastworld plus a website where further mysteries can be developed.

As to Picture books, I very much enjoyed illustrating the book Winston The Book Wolf written by Marni

Winston the Book Wolf, illustrated by Ian Beck

Winston the Book Wolf, illustrated by Ian Beck

McGee, but whether I will ever make another one of my own I don’t know, the longer form seems to have taken over.

Jennifer: You’ve had a lot of interviews that have covered a lot of ground.

Is there a question you wish you had been asked? Okay, now’s your chance! Question and answer – over to you!

Q. What would you have done if you hadn’t made books?

IAN: I would like to have been a ‘café concert’ cabaret entertainer in the mythical Paris of the 1900’s, singing in a tux with a cane, and hanging out with Ravel and Erik Satie and perhaps even having a passionate affair with Colette!

Jennifer: Yep – I can see you doing a Maurice Chevalier complete with top hat!

Maybe that is more than just a dream??????

Now here’s a tantalizing tease – Hidden Kingdom and Pastworld are coming up AND, with one shorter film under his belt already and two animated feature version of the Tom Trueheart books under way, can we expect Ian to be off to Hollywood next with a blockbuster in his sights? Stay tuned!!!!!