Sunday, 21 December 2014

Some Thoughts About Sharing


I've been thinking a lot about sharing. Not just the boasting FB status update variety, nor those ubiquitous AfterEight Challenge Instagram pics. And I'm not talking about Chrissy prezzies either. That's not sharing, it's shopping. No, what I'm banging on about is something more emo, more philosophical and a bit... well, cheesy.

Last week I was in Oxford for a lunch meeting with some publishers about the collaborative project I'm doing with Jo Cotterill, called ELECTRIGIRL (see previous post). As Jo and I said goodbye to our OUP team, the two of us walked away down the street arm-in-arm, beaming from ear to ear. It was a 'that was great' tingle moment, a stomach flipper. We almost skipped (but we are middle-aged and erm, sensible, so didn't!)  I'll be honest and say I've not walked arm-in-arm with anyone (except perhaps my nieces or my Mum after her hip op!) for absolutely years. Not since I was a teenager. And that's how it felt, like I was a teenager, sharing a triumph with my Bestie. It was the perfect end to the perfect day, a gesture that summed up exactly what was happening to our insides.

We were sharing something that nobody else could understand. With that gesture we were acknowledging all the ups (inspiration and hilarity) and all the downs (re-writes, rejections, tantrums and tears) of a project we had shared for almost 2 years. We, and only we, knew how hard it had been to finally get to that meeting on that day on that street, so we expressed all of it in that shared gesture.

You see, I told you it would be cheesy!

So why have I been thinking about sharing and why am I posting it today?

Well, I'm an atheist (or an agnostic) and I've long believed we atheists/agnostics should shift our mid-winter festivities to coincide with the Solstice, which is today. And, as I'm broke this year (2014 will be an Austerity Christmas for the majority of us, I think) I'm looking for ways to enjoy the festive season without spending money I don't have. So, I'll be doing it by sharing. I'll spend time with friends (in the same room or online). I'll share memories and triumphs and news (trying not to boast). I'll share by listening and commiserating and empathising, because I've been there and I know how much it hurts. Oh, and I'll share some of the cakes and biscuits I've made.

Here is my first share...

Love and hugs
from Cathy

Share... click

Wednesday, 17 December 2014

Sparky New Project

Yesterday I travelled up to Oxford to meet up with the team who are shaping my new collaborative project, ELECTRIGIRL. Jo Cotterill was there, of course. She's the writing genius who came up with the original idea and has written all the text (many times over!) You could say I'm a sort of illustrator Robin to her writer Batman. Or something like that. Anyway. I digress.
got to meet our OUP team for the first time including our editor, Kathy, and art editor, Holly. I was particularly eager to show them all my artwork ideas so I spread them out across the meeting room table. In fact, there was so much of it (Jo and I have been working on this for over a year) that it covered the table almost entirely! That meeting room instantly resembled my chaotic studio.
The plan was to discuss all the illustrations I'll be doing for a couple of hours and then pop out for lunch but we got so involved and kept adding more pages so, four and a half hours later we were finishing the last page over pudding in the restaurant!!

Thursday, 20 November 2014

Questions and Artwork

I was asked a very interesting question last week. I was visiting the Saint Joan of Arc School in Rickmansworth, which I was astonished a delighted to discover has an actual moat, like a castle or something, and a literary claim to fame (George Eliot wrote Daniel Deronda there). I was also delighted by the pupils and their questions.
"Do you design your own covers and is it different when you are designing a cover for someone else's book?"
"Yes," I replied. "I am lucky enough to design my own, with the help of an art editor. And yes, it's quite different when I'm designing one for somebody else."
This started a whole discussion about the publishing process, how brilliant art editors are, how I get inside the head of an author and how publishers often need a cover finished before the author has even finished writing the book!
I am in the fortunate position of having a commission to illustrate a second book by an author I both admire and like very much, Karen McCombie. Today I had the rough artwork approved for the cover of the lovely Karen's new title, Honey and Me. Minutes later another emailed pinged onto my screen - the finished first draft, hot from Karen's writing desk. You see, I wasn't lying!

Tuesday, 9 September 2014

I Heart Year Sevens!!

I'm just back from doing a talk and mini workshop at a school not far from my home. I've not been there before and it's always a bit exciting visiting a new school, seeing their library and checking out their lunches!! (It was roast day today! Yum!)
My talk was just an hour with Year Seven and, as usual, I got carried away and over ran. Oops! (Nobody wanted to go to maths anyway) My excuse is that I was loving the task I'd set (based around the letters sent by soldiers during the First World War) and also the task that the pupils had set for me - live drawing. It's a fun challenge for an illustrator, to draw whatever the pupils shout out and I'm starting to get good at it. Today it was a werewolf teacher (easy-peasy) and a zombie baby (rather disturbing but hilarious). I got a round of applause for the baby!
Here is a drawing one of the pupils gave to me before I left. I love it. Especially the 'fun' hashtag and the curly eyelashes. I THINK it's a zombie but I could be wrong. It might actually be a portrait of their visiting author!!!
Thank you Danes Hill School for an awesome day. #FUN

Tuesday, 15 July 2014

Letters from the Trenches

This week I did a school workshop at the amazing British Postal Museum and Archive in London after a fascinating tour and talks by the archive staff where we were able to look at actual letters sent during WW1. I found out from the experts all the things I got wrong in EVERYTHING IS FINE AND OTHER LIES I TELL MYSELF, i.e. Freddie's letters would probably have been sent in 'honour' envelopes and been censored, or were not letters at all but postcards!!! I know where to do my research next time!  :)

Friday, 11 July 2014

London Film & Comic Con

It's the first ever Young Adult Literture Convention (YALC) this weekend, part of London Film & Comic Con. It starts TODAY! I'll be there tomorrow and can't wait to find out if it's anything like the Comics Convention I described in my book VERITY FIBBS. Life imitating art, or what?!

Tuesday, 8 July 2014

Pop Up Essex!

Q: If your sketches came true, what would you draw?
A: A lottery winning zombie and Justin Beiber getting guillotined by the Queen, obviously! 
Well, that's according to year 6 pupils at Tudor Court Primary. I visited their school yesterday as part of POP UP ESSEX and, not only was the building (and number of pupils) MASSIVE, but their welcome was too. Thank you everyone for inviting me and for being so awesone at writing tweets to Amelia and Edgar, drawing, colouring in and asking me why I hate Christmas! ;)

Monday, 16 June 2014


I've been quite busy with illustration projects and have been neglecting this blog a bit. Now that most of those projects have gone to press (publishing dates to follow) it's allowed me to focus on some more personal stuff. I completed a picture book proposal (which now needs some additional work) and I've been getting on with my next YA novel (aiming to get a completed manuscript off to my agent by August).
But that's just afternoons! In the mornings I've been painting...
Mostly portraits like these. 
So, I thought you might like to follow my progress.
Here is today's portrait...
Come back soon and I'll show the completed portrait.

Sunday, 27 April 2014

Daily Doodle... In the rain

Up and out very early this morning. Too early to be properly awake.

Wednesday, 16 April 2014

Tuesday, 8 April 2014

Authors Aloud UK

I've just joined the list of AUTHORS ALOUD UK. Woohoo! Pop over there and check out who I'm rubbing shoulders with. It's quite impressive - Carnegie winners, Children's Laureates, Facebook friends. Excellent!

Wednesday, 2 April 2014

Edwardian Visiting Author

I've been devising a new workshop to take into schools next term and it's a little different. Usually I visit a school as Cathy Brett author and illustrator, but this workshop will be delivered by Cathy Brett Edwardian writer and artist (who just popped over from 1914 to 2014 in her time machine).

I won't just be dressing up, I'll be attempting to inhabit the character completely, using phrases from 100 years ago and commenting on all the amazing differences I've encountered in 2014 like technology, transport, fashion and girl power!
I can't wait to try it!

Sunday, 16 March 2014

Daily Doodle


Yes, it's the middle of MARCH and yes, that is sunburn!
I've had to come in from the garden as my paler than pale blue skin can't take it!

Tuesday, 11 March 2014

My Book Group Debut

I visited my first book group last night. Not as a member or reader, but as a special guest, because the book they'd chosen to read this month was 'Everything Is Fine (And Other Lies I Tell Myself). Another first.
I've met adult readers of my books in the past - mostly librarians, teachers or friends - but the prospect of a whole roomful of well-read book addicts filled me with a little trepidation. I shouldn't have worried. They were a lovely bunch...
...and had oodles of excellent and valuable questions and comments for me. Even those who would never usually pick up teen fiction, especially teen fiction WITH PICTURES, admitted to a surprised enjoyment of Esther and her antics!
Thank you Peter (back row, right) for suggesting my book to the group and for inviting me to Barton's, and thank you Barton's Bookshop Book Group for being so welcoming and friendly.

Monday, 10 March 2014

Pop Up Hackney

East London is full to bursting with authors this week. It's an event called Pop Up Hackney and I was at Clapton Girls Academy this morning to talk with year 7s. It was one of my best workshops EVER!
The pupils had already read my book, Graphic, and I suspect they actually knew the story better than I did. We chatted about drawing and how I started writing. They seemed to like my illustrations but the girls pulled faces when I showed them some of the comedy horror books. Clapton girls are not fond of flies, spiders, slime and squished ghost 10-year-olds!
They asked me some excellent questions, particularly about how to get better at drawing. Here is a link to my 10,000 Hours blog for the answer.
We then tackled 'what we would draw if our drawings became real' (which was more of an opportunity to draw cats and cool fashion - always My fave activity) and here are some of the results...
I have always wanted to have a pair of wings (it would make travelling so much easier) so this is what I drew...

...and one of the pupils kindly offered to colour it in for me. I think I should give her a job as my assistant.
Before I left I was delighted by a surprise presentation - they had made a card/book with me on the front...
...and their own awesome portraits inside. They'd all signed it too. I've NEVER be given anything so fabulous! Thank you girls! xxxxx
One last picture. On my way from the station I happened to glance upward and saw this..., huh?

Saturday, 8 March 2014

Daily Doodle

Ventured into the garden today. Found it a little overgrown...

Friday, 28 February 2014

Friday-ly Doodle

I've left my studio and set up in the kitchen today. Bread to mix and birthday cakes to bake...

Thursday, 27 February 2014

Wednesday, 26 February 2014

Daily Doodle

I've a HUGE stack of drawings on my desk today after a marathon of character development sketching for my new project. I've just finished rubbing out all the pencil lines (ouch!) and am about to start scanning them. Wish me luck.
Here's rather a grumpy character. The others are happier! Mostly.

Tuesday, 25 February 2014

Daily Doodle

Today I'm sketching a brand new character. He's awfully stylish. Look, waistcoat and flares! What a dude!

Sunday, 23 February 2014

Sunday-ly Doodle(s)

Sunday chez Ginger is usually a stay-in-onesie-catch-up-on-TV-on-the-sofa day...
...but this week it was a seven-am-call-to-carry-out-emergency-tween-sitting day...
...which isn't as unpleasant as it sounds. I'm home now and back on the sofa. Shall I put the onsie back on?

Saturday, 22 February 2014

Blue-dle Doodle

Rough Daily Doodle

Today's sketches are my very first scribbles for a new project. Pre rough, pre development, pre anything. Chances are none of the characters will look anything like this.

Friday, 21 February 2014

Sunshiny Daily Doodle

There was a strange and lovely phenomenon around here today - smiles on every face. And I'm pretty sure this happiness epidemic was caused by the return of something we've rather missed this winter. Sunshine! 
It was so sunny and so warm (out if the wind) that I even sat on my back door step drinking tea and soaking up a massive dose if vitamin D. It was bliss.

Wednesday, 19 February 2014

Half-Term Doodle

Planned a lovely day with the nieces and took sketchbooks, pens and the brand new project briefs for their input (they are my own personal creative/editorial team). However, after enthusiastically reading Karen McCombie's book manuscript (which 11YO niece thought was awesome), we actually ended up watching funny kitten videos for... well... the rest of the day.

Tuesday, 18 February 2014

London Fashion Week Daily Doodle

My fave look from the London catwalks. Every wardrobe needs wellies and balaclavas.

Monday, 17 February 2014

Great Doodle Bake-Off

While kneading bread dough this afternoon I marveled at the process that causes flour, water and yeast (and a large pinch of salt) to rise... it's ALIVE!

Sunday, 16 February 2014

Daily Doodle - On Ice

A discussion of Men's Olympic Figure Skating inspired today's doodle. Apparently, the boys' costumes are prettier than the girls'. And so is their hair.

Saturday, 15 February 2014

Daily Doodle - Star Wars Edition

Watched Star Wars with the nieces last night...

Friday, 14 February 2014