Back during Christmas 2015, what began as a ‘what if’ conversation quickly turned into a story Eve created when she was just 6 years old. Her dad quickly typed up the tale Eve told him in the hope of one day turning it into a book as her Christmas present. It lay dormant for 5 years before he could dedicate the time it needed and, in 2021, a first edition of the original version of the story was born. Following this, they decided to embark on a new journey of publishing the book and making it accessible to all. This is when they began working with Natascha Biebow, Nicholas Child and all of the Scottish charities to ensure every different format of the book was going to be as accessible as it could be for everyone.
1. Accessibility is key for every child that opens a book. Using the Dyslexie Font has ensured that many more children will be able to read this fun story. Can you share your experience working with the font design?
Selecting the right font was key for all the different version of the book we were planning to produce. We came across Christian Boer’s fabulous work (Founder, Dyslexie Font) and quickly realised we shared very similar passion where we believe no one should miss out on the imagination and creativity that books provide. Following on from our initial conversations we decided that the dyslexie font would be the font to use for the A4 paperback, the subtitles for the videobook, and the braille version which was printed with the full colour illustrations and clear acetate braille overlay (for visually impaired readers to share the books with others).
However, simply selecting a dyslexia friendly font does not mean the book is suddenly dyslexia friendly. Yes, the font really helps, but there are so many other factors such as the size of the font, the colour, the positioning of the text next to the illustrations, the line breaks, not mixing upper and lower case letters, that are all instrumental in ensuring the final book is dyslexia friendly.
Sadly, there is no national or international certification to validate whether a book is truly dyslexia friendly, therefore we reached out to Dyslexia Scotland who were kind enough to provide feedback throughout all the design stages of our book to ensure it is dyslexia friendly.
We also worked closely with Deaf Action to record a British Sign Language version of the book (which they had not done before) and we worked closely with Seescape in Fife to produce an audio description version to support the illustrations which had not been done in the UK before either.
2. With a BSL, Braille and video format of the story underway, can you tell us more on the inclusive editions that you've been working on/finished and ready to publish/already published?
We launched the book with the dyslexia friendly print version, BSL, audio description, videobook (inc audio, subtitles and BSL) and the eBook simultaneously as we wanted to ensure the book was available to as many people as possible from the outset. Sadly the braille version of the book took a few weeks longer to produce than anticipated as we could not find anyone in Scotland who was willing to produce it. In the end we managed to find a really helpful company in Wales (Pia) who were leading the way in new braille techniques that really resonated with our inclusive approach to the different versions of our story.
3. A book launch blog tour and media interest from various newspapers is definitely putting Eve's Santa on the map, a well-deserved spotlight for such a fantastic story. Do you have further plans for Santa Steals Christmas!?
Yes! We have recently signed an agreement whereby Santa Steals Christmas! will be broadcast on US TV, on Christmas Eve and twice on Christmas Day!
In addition to this we are currently also looking to produce versions of Santa Steals Christmas! in multiple languages, and also searching for suppliers who will be able to produce finger puppets of the characters to accompany the book.
4. The illustrator, Nicholas Child, has brought Eve's Santa to life as well as all the festive illustrations for the book. Were there any must-have shapes, designs or colours that were important to include?
We particularly enjoyed working with Nicholas Child on the illustrations and helping him create the world Eve imagined come to life on the page.
Nicholas came up with the original version of some of the characters and with Eve’s guidance moved away from the more ‘traditional’ looking elves as she wanted to include characters of different ethnicities and abilities by adding little details. For example, all of the elves have different skin tones, one of the elves, Taylor, has a cochlear implant to help him with his hearing loss, another elf, Frankie, wears glasses, and even one of the reindeer wears glasses!
As an autistic person and a member of the LGBTQ+ community, inclusivity means a lot to Eve. She wanted to make sure that almost every child can find a character that they relate to, even just a little bit, even if it’s just a side character.
5. Where can readers find out more about Santa Steals Christmas! and all the charities it will support?
People are able to find out more via our website www.santastealschristmas.com which lists all of the charities we are supporting, along with a little extra background information to each of the characters in our story.
Alternatively they can follow us for the latest updated via the social media channels below:
Fast-forward to a meeting with one of Eve’s teachers during the first lockdown, when he learned that Eve’s writing projects at school were getting positive reviews. That’s when he asked Eve to get involved and work alongside an illustrator to achieve her vision of the story.
Among the world’s youngest published authors, Eve is a passionate believer in diversity, equality and inclusion – she wants her stories to reflect the world she sees around her. That means characters of different ethnicities and abilities, as well as another of her passions: animals.
Working closely with children’s book illustrator Nicholas Child, Eve provided initial sketches and creative direction for the look and feel of the characters, including sample drawings of the robots and input into the animal characters, Pretzel the dog and the two cats, Cookie and Basil.
When she’s not studying, writing or spending time with the family pets – cats Lucifer and Lizzie, and Harris the dog – Eve is an active member of youth-led samba drumming group Pulse of the Place, based in Leith. Eve recently travelled with the group to perform at New York City’s annual Tartan Day Parade, with Gail Porter as Grand Marshal – another highlight in 2023, alongside releasing Santa Steals Christmas!