Wombat Books Blog

Wombat Books blog is the place to keep up to date with all the goings-on in the world of Aussie kid's books.

A chat with illustrator Sandra Temple

A chat with illustrator Sandra Temple

As part of the inaugural Wombat Books Illustration Challenge, we will be running a series of blogs featuring successful illustrators - to offer advice and inspiration and help budding illustrators learn from the best in the 'biz'.

Sandra Temple has previously illustrated Puggle's Problem by Aleesah Darlison (who is the author of the Illustration Challenge book - Zoo Ball) as well as a range of other books - many of which feature zoo animals from around the world.

Sandra Temple is an international award winning wildlife artist. She is passionate about conservation and the environment. Usually she is asked to illustrate books that require a lot of animals and birds in them. Sandra is also an author, multi media tutor and a body painter for events and film.

Question 1: When did you start illustrating and what was the first book you ever illustrated?

I started drawing as soon as I could hold a pencil properly. In nearly all the photos of me as a child I am colouring, drawing or reading. The first book I ever illustrated was in Primary school, it was about a little fawn who was afraid of being alone. I even laminated it.

Question 2: What is the most challenging part of being an illustrator?

For me, it's trying to make my pictures are not too different from what the writer sees in their own version – usually in their head, and also keeping the publishers ideas there too.

Question 3: What is your favourite part about being an illustrator?

When the illustrations are finished and they are all approved, I get a feeling of satisfaction, but my favourite part has to be when children enjoy the story read out loud and it becomes their choice to read over and over again.

Question 4: When given a story to illustrate, what is the first thing you do to get your ideas flowing?

I always read the book aloud a few times to see how it flows. Then think of each page as a picture and sketch small thumbnail sketches of the pages very roughly. After that it's lots of scribbles until the characters develop. The pictures need to match the words so if the kangaroo is wearing a red spotted scarf I make sure that it IS wearing a red spotted scarf and things like that.

Question 5: If you could give one piece of advice to a budding illustrator, what would it be?

Draw, and draw, and keep drawing. Study human bodies and movement, and if serious, find a good teacher. It is possible to teach yourself (after all, I did) but much quicker to be guided by someone who can help you with shortcuts and tips.

Find out more about Sandra Temple

Find out more about the Illustration Challenge


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An interview with Aleesah Darlison

An interview with Aleesah Darlison

Hi, I’m Aleesah Darlison. I write picture books and novels for children. Being an author is the best job in the world. I love it!

Question 1: What was the first story you ever wrote and has it been published?

At the start of my career, I wrote lots of stories and many of them will never be published because they missed the mark. However, one of the first stories I did have published was There’s Magic at Pa’s. It appeared in a magazine called Little Ears, which was edited by Di Bates.

Question 2: What was your first book published?

A picture book called Puggle’s Problem, which was published by Wombat Books.

Question 3: What is your favourite part about being an author?

Being able to create characters and stories from ideas that come from inside my imagination then sharing them with other people.

Question 4:What is the hardest part about being an author?

Managing writing time with marketing time and family time. There’s never enough hours in the day.

Question 5: What do you do for fun?

Spend time with my family. Go to restaurants and eat yummy food. Make myself go to the gym for some ‘me’ time and some exercise.

Question 6: How do you test out your stories? Or who do you test them on?

By reading them out aloud, creating dummy books, sometimes reading them to my children, and running them by my agent or editor. Professional, third-party feedback is always the most valuable.

Question 7: What was your favourite children’s book when you were a kid?

The Lion, The Witch and The Wardrobe by C.S. Lewis.

Question 8: What is your favourite children’s book now?

I’m loving my new picture book, Little Meerkat, at the moment. It’s published by Wombat Books and illustrated by Shannon Melville who is doing an AWESOME job.

Question 9: Have you ever travelled overseas as an author?

Yes, I was a guest speaker at the Hong Kong International Literary Festival in 2011 and in 2012 I returned to Hong Kong to conduct school visits. I’m looking at going back there in 2014 and possibly also Singapore. Of course, I’m always willing to consider invitations from other countries, too…

Question 10: Have you met anyone even more famous than you that was exciting?

When I was first starting out as an author, I always got extremely nervous meeting well-known authors. My palms would get sweaty, my throat would constrict and I’d have trouble talking. I just admired those authors so much and thought I would never, ever be as famous or as successful as they were. Thank goodness my nerves and my confidence have improved and luckily I’ve enjoyed my own small successes so I’m not so bad anymore.

Question 11: What writing genre do you like to do the most?

That’s hard to say. I love writing picture books that feature animals and I love writing fantasy adventure for older children. It’s all good fun.

Question 12: What do you consider your biggest achievement?

Achieving publication and creating a career out of what I love doing most in the world.

Question 13: Where do you see the future of children’s books (ebooks/apps/print)?

I hope paper books are going to stick around for a long time to come, but with the way technology is going and how kids interact with the digital world, I think we will start to view and read more and more books on-screen.

Question 14: What is your favourite time to read?

Anytime is a good time to escape into a book. I’d read all day if I could. When I was a kid I used to get in trouble for reading so much.

Question 15: What book are you reading right now?

The Power of One (children’s version) by Bryce Courtenay.

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