Beyond delighted to be welcoming Karl Newson to answer the My Book Corner questions. Karl is a picture book author and illustrator. His latest publication – with Anuska Allepuz – A Bear Is A Bear, has had us giggling. Lots!
Tell us about you in 25 words or less.
A biscuit dunking (repeat), coffee drinking, star-gazing, record playing, book loving, story reading, adventure seeking, pen scribbling, day dreaming, writer-type, who also dabbles in illustration.
Describe your latest picture book, A Bear Is a Bear, in 20 words or less.
A small, confused bear wanders through a forest, trying to remember what on earth he is. He needs our help!
How would you describe your writing style?
Scribbly! I don’t want to get typecast doing the same type of writing over and over, so I mix it up as much as possible: a bit of rhyme, a bit of prose, some bedtime quiet ones, some loud and silly ones, some themed, some completely mad. I mostly just write what I like and then see where it takes me.
What makes you happy?
Sun. Family. Friends. Writing. Music. Fresh air. Seeing a book I wrote being enjoyed! Biscuits. Chocolate. Cake.
Where is your favourite place to write / illustrate? Describe it to us.
Anywhere! There’s no place I wouldn’t be happy writing, given the chance. I write a lot at my desk, and a lot on trains, and a lot on the tube, and a lot in bed. My perfect place would be a tropical island, with the shore crashing nearby and a big blue sky overhead… I’ve not got there yet, but one day. I do most of my illustrations on a computer nowadays, so I’m chained to the desk for those… but if there was a way of taking them to that tropical island dream, I’d be there!
What’s on your TBR pile at the moment?
So many brilliant books! The Nothing to See Here Hotel by Steven Butler & Steven Lenton; Amelia Fang and the Unicorn Lords by Laura Ellen Anderson; The Dundoodle Mysteries: The Chocolate Factory Ghost by David O’Connell and Claire Powell; The Wild Robot by Peter Brown. All superb, so far!
What’s your worst habit?
Dunking biscuits. I go through a whole packet so quickly… I’ve had to stop buying them.
Your favourite word(s) and why
OUTRAGEOUS! Because it can be used in all manner of ways to answer almost anything.
Can you tell us a little about your journey to publication?
For A Bear is a Bear, it begins in February 2016. I didn’t set out to write about a bear, or about the theme of ‘just being yourself’, but for whatever reason the idea developed as I wrote and it came out pretty much all in one burst. It was fun thinking of the animals bear could imitate – he needs to be quite flexible to do some of the scenes! Once the story was down, I send it to my agent Jodie Hodges, at United Agents, and Jodie sent it on to the publishers… and shortly after that Nosy Crow came back with an offer I was pleased to accept. I had no idea at this stage what Bear would look like – I hadn’t even thought about it – but when I saw Anuska Allepuz’s sample illustration I was blown away. There was bear, looking wonderful! About 18 months later, A Bear is a Bear was published. It’s a dream, really!
What are your top tips for budding picture book writers and illustrators?
NEVER. GIVE. UP.
Read as much as you write.
Draw as much as you see.
Listen to music; hear the beats, the bouncing rhythm, and the melody between the two, and apply that to your writing. Even a story written in prose has rhythm.
Loosen up your pencil lines. And don’t trace too tight. Better still, don’t trace at all.
READ YOUR STORY ALOUD! Do all the voices and silly noises. Deliver it like you would on a stage. It’s too quiet in your head to hear if it works or not.
Don’t make it too complicated. Overthinking it will ruin it. Capture the initial burst of your idea and see where it takes you – don’t take it places it doesn’t easily go to.
NEVER. GIVE. UP.
Can you give us a glimpse / hint at your current WIP? (I can bribe you with cake!)
I can’t offer a glimpse I’m afraid as they’re still under wraps with the publishers… but, I can say a bit without giving too much away! So, there are 5 picture books currently in the making and one early reader fiction. The next picture book to be published is about going to bed, followed by one about a mouse and then one about us all. I can’t wait to share more about them!
Did we forget anything?
Just for fun
Tea or coffee?
Coffee. I’m 99% coffee.
Paper books or e-books?
Paper books all the way home and forever more! I’ve never read an e-book. I can see the benefits for travel, etc, but I like to feel the pages turn, hear the spine creak and smell the age of the book I’m reading!
Cake or chocolate?
Cake-late? Can I have both? If not… cake. (Just.)
Write or type?
Write! Just over a year ago I decided to keep all my scribblings in one place: in a notebook. When it’s full, I start another (currently on no. 6!). I’ll only type something up on my computer when I consider it finished.
Poetry or prose?
Of reading – both! I don’t think I could take one without the other.
Of writing – poetry, mostly! I’ve gotten in the habit of writing everything in rhyme!
Gryffindor, Ravenclaw, Hufflepuff or Slytherin?
This will shock-horror some folk… I’ve not read Harry Potter! I’ll be a Gryffenclufflerin. It’s got a spellbinding ring to it J
Hot or cold?
Hot! I don’t mind a smidge of cold weather but a whole season of it is much too much for me! A week would do nicely… then all warm and hot for the other 51 weeks of the year. Cold, I’ll happily take in ice creams.