This might be my final illustration for Wolf Logic. I’ve not posted all the illustrations on here…got to save some surprises for the book itself!
23 Jan 2015 Leave a comment
This might be my final illustration for Wolf Logic. I’ve not posted all the illustrations on here…got to save some surprises for the book itself!
10 Dec 2014 Leave a comment
Here are some more illustrations-in-progress for my book Wolf Logic. These really are unfinished!
This one is of a “lacefester” which is a creature that appears early in the story. Not very dangerous, but better left alone. It has the ability to create a mesmerizing hologram between its antennae, to distract potential enemies. It’s much sought after for the powders and talismans that can be made from its dried body, so there aren’t that many of them around any more.
Gia spends a lot of time cutting up squid in this story. So I had to draw that too, of course:
09 Dec 2014 Leave a comment
I’ve finished writing Wolf Logic. (Or I hope I have, I’m still waiting for some feedback from my critique partners so we’ll see what happens then!)
In the meantime, I’ve started on the drawings for the book. Here are some I’ve already shared, but redrawn. Billy and Spyker:
Billy is a big guy, but very gentle, generous, and good natured. He’s not quite human, having a bit of bear in him. He loves surfing, helping his friend Spyker to create street art, and he funds this by selling illicit and stolen magical technology. He’s not the most responsible of people, but he has a warm heart.
Spyker is not as easy to get on with as Billy is, and I suspect Billy is his only friend. He is an artist, creating magnificent graffiti pieces that Billy enhances with lighting and other electronic flourishes. Spyker can climb like a gecko, and has an affinity for electricity – he can shock you with a pinch. He’s not very reliable, and cares only for himself. But you can get on his good side by admiring his artwork.
26 Sep 2014 Leave a comment
I skived off from the perpetual squid-cutting duties to go and watch the turtles being fed. Up on top of the Two Oceans aquarium, on the roof, is the quarantine area where sick animals and new arrivals are kept. But these are by far the most charming. A whole row of tanks, each one with a baby turtle flailing around inside it signalling “feed me!” with their flippers.
These little guys were rescued, found washed up on the beaches here in Cape Town. They are from the warmer east coast and got swept here into our cold waters where they usually die of hypothermia, or drown, unless they are rescued. They are being kept here until they are big and strong and healthy enough to be released again.
A little further on, in a big drum covered over with netting is this:
This is Otto, a rescued hawskbill turtle who was found washed up and dying at Yzerfontein. The photo doesn’t really convey how impressive she is. She’s a big girl, and she looks as though she’s doing really well now.
In case you are interested:
25 Sep 2014 Leave a comment
They are cute, but their beaks are sharp, and they have plenty of attitude.
I had to reach in behind the tree — one of those rocks is actually a lid on a pipe, which I had to fill with water for the tree. I felt a little…uncertain about putting my ungloved hand in among these guys. I hung out with them for a bit, and showed them the hosepipe (Peck! Nip! Not Edible!) and the lid of the pipe (Nip! Peck! Might Be Edible! Nip!) and after a lot of “Hey, nice day, isn’t it? Don’t mind me, I’m just standing here with my hosepipe” they eventually allowed me to get near enough to fill the pipe.
24 Sep 2014 Leave a comment
I arrived a little early for my aquarium volunteer shift at the Two Oceans this morning. Lights were still off. Quite amazingly spooky, walking around in a dark aquarium.
The baby ragged-tooth sharks were the best, but the tank was so dark the picture I took came out completely black :) So all I’ve got to show is this hungry stingray.
28 Aug 2014 5 Comments
One of the amazing things about having a blog is that every now and then, the people you write about, write back! Imagine my delight in getting an email from Ermanno Libenzi, the author of quite a few of the books that were my absolute, all-time favorites when I was a little girl. You might have seen my post on his book “Ernest in the Wild West” which you can see here and which drew a lovely conversation in the comments, from people all over the world who love those books just as much as I do.
Ermanno tells me there is a chance that these books might be republished. How amazing would that be! So I’m honored to host a guest post here by Ermanno Libenzi, in which he reminds us of who he is, and why he wrote those books in the first place. If you are interested to see more of Ermanno’s books, here is a link to some of them.
I was born in Milan, Italy, and grew up amid printed paper. My father was a journalist at the “Corriere della Sera”, the leading Italian newspaper, and his home library room was full not only of books, but also of magazines and newspapers of various nationalities. I was terribly curious to know the meaning of all those big written words I saw in his magic room. I’m sure that it was this curiosity which pressed me to become an early reader.
I began, of course, with the first elementary picture books, then I passed to fairy tales, soon I discovered the joys of comic strips, and through them I reached the vast world of adventure books: pirates, cow-boys, explorers were my first unforgettable heroes. Years later, I made those stories live again in three hilarious children’s books I wrote: “Robin and the Pirates”, the story of a smart little boy who finds himself on board of a pirate vessel, and the two adventures of Ernest, a funny gentleman, photographer and explorer. In the first book he wanders through the astonishing mysteries of Africa, in the second one, he crosses the savage world of the Wild West. I entrusted the genius of illustration Adelchi Galloni with the task of realizing at his best the three books’ drawings. I can say that he really managed to bring the imagery and language of comics into the sphere of art.
One day, exploring my father’s bookcases, by chance I opened the Treasure Island by Robert Louis Stevenson. That was for me the entrance door to the fascinating world of the great European and American novels.
In my opinion, nothing can help a child, and later a boy, to acquire a complete cultural and sentimental education more than an early reading of these masterpieces, when our soul is clean as a white sheet of paper, and our personality is quickly developing. Reading great books is really the best food for our spirit. Moreover, the literary masterpieces can teach us how to give full expression to our thoughts and sentiments through the language, both written and spoken.
Thanks to all the printed paper of my childhood, I started writing and publishing books when I was still very young. Everything is new, when you are in your twenties. No conventions bind your fantasy, no obligations, no commonplaces block your creativity, and sometimes the results of this state of grace are surprising.
I remember that when I was 25 years old, a little, sorrowful idea had been turning over in my mind for a long time. I thought that it was so pleasant to go around riding a bicycle or a motorbike. So pleasant but unfortunately also so dangerous. Every year a dreadful number of young people are victims all over the world in road accidents. I thought that writing a book on that argument could certainly be an useful project. The real problem was the way I could transform a boring Road Safety manual into a readable and maybe agreeable children’s book. I thought that the best thing I could do was to keep my hand very light, to be cheerful but giving affordable tips, and above all to avoid anxiety-inducing lessons, which could only frighten readers. A fearful, hesitating driver is constantly in danger, more or less like a reckless driver.
After the book was published, it happened an incredible thing. It won the “Premio Bancarellino”, the main Italian literary prize dedicated to children’s literature. Simply, I couldn’t believe it. Yet that prize was above suspicion, because its jury was, and still is, composed by hundreds of young readers coming from all the Italian regions.
My explanation of the mystery was that it was just this unconventional kind of jury which allowed my book to win the prize. I was on the same unconventional wavelength as them, while a jury made of lofty critics never could admit a manual for young cyclist into the elite of Italian children’s literature.
Nevertheless I felt a little bit guilty: my light-hearted manual had prevailed over demanding biographies and committed historical novels… I decided to redeem myself. Four years later, I managed to win the same prize again with a serious book based on true historical episodes happened in Italy during the Second World War.
In the following years I divided my professional activity among editorial work, journalism and children’s books writing.
I wrote about thirty children’s books of various subjects: tales, picture books, young adult science fiction, short stories, historical and scientific non fiction.
My Italian publishers were Mondadori, Garzanti and Vallecchi. Abroad, my books were published by Hamlyn in the United Kingdom, Platt & Munk in the United States, Nathan and Sarbacane in France, Duculot in Belgium, Südwest Verlag in Germany, Turbine Forlaget in Sweden and Danmark, Lasten Kerkus in Finland, Beijing Timebook Culture Spread in China, Holp Shuppan and Rippu Shobo in Japan, Orell Füssli Verlag In Switzerland.
First of all, I always tried to stick at the basic duty of every narrator: to entertain, to fascinate his readers – both children and adults, i.e. their parents – with amusing and/or engaging stories. At the same time, I always tried to pursue a moral aim in my work, yet carefully trying to avoid moralism. In particular, I always cultivated a strong interest in ecology, environmentalism and human rights. As a journalist, I wrote many articles in defence of animals, particularly against hunting. Last, but not least, I did my best to keep in mind that a storyteller has a fantastic opportunity. He can deliver – without appearing to do so – a lot of sound principles. Ancient Romans, two thousand years ago, called this pedagogical concept “docendo ludere”, that means “teaching and amusing”. I hope that this can be my motto.
30 Jul 2014 Leave a comment
I did my first stint of “Behind the Scenes” work at the Two Oceans aquarium today. It was great! I’ll probably get all jaded and bored with this stuff soon enough, but right now everything is new and interesting.
First thing in the morning – went to the office to sign in, and found a penguin standing there, eyeing every body up and down :) Very cute.
Cleaned the tank of a mantis shrimp (the creature of Oatmeal fame) which is apparently the most intelligent of the crustaceans. Had to work with long-stemmed implements, as putting my hand in the water would be a bit dangerous. To quote from that Oatmeal link, mantis shrimp can accelerate to the velocity of a bullet shot from a 22 calibre rifle, and strike with a force of 1500 Newtons. Ouch!
Here he is:
I also had to keep track of a single fish ( a spotted grunter) in a shoal of many, many others, to help a diver catch it so it could go into quarantine.
And for most of the time, I cut piles and piles of shrimp, squid, and redbait into tiny pieces. This platter was lunch for the giant spider crabs. The big lesson here was that squid eyes squirt fluid all over the place if you don’t watch it. Also, they have little tiny beaks like parrots, I’d never seen those before.
Just being in the aquarium is such a pleasure – for example, here’s a glimpse of the White Steenbras in the Kelp Tank:
And that’s it until the week after next, when I’m on duty again :)
16 Jul 2014 1 Comment
Some pictures taken through the windscreen en route from Cape Town to Durban, and a few from the journey back again. We took four days to get there, and three days to drive back again. Unfortunately the photos of the most beautiful part (through the Swartberge) came out all blurry so I had to leave those out. The map of our route is right at the end.
13 Jun 2014 Leave a comment
Some more work on a character design – a little person who might be called “Spyker”. Not sure of that name yet. He has an affinity with electricity, and is a thief, as well as a graffiti artist.
The speckles on his skin might change – I’m not sure if he has patterns, or pimples :)
31 May 2014 Leave a comment
Sometimes, when I get a bit stuck with my writing, it helps to draw the characters. These are for my current work in progress, which is the sequel to Crooks and Straights. I knew one of my characters had to have an unexpected meeting late at night, but I didn’t know who he would run into. So I started drawing, and these three guys emerged:
I don’t know their names yet – Brendon says the big guy is called “Billy Bong”. All I know is that they are thieves, that the big one is calm and even tempered, the little one is suspicious and has a nasty temper, and the creature is the sensible one of the group.
19 May 2014 Leave a comment
Once a week, I volunteer at the Two Oceans Aquarium, at the microscope display. It’s always a bit of a surprise what you’ll find in the bowls. This one contains, among other creatures
13 May 2014 Leave a comment
Found this tiny fellow on my writing desk just now. He was quite unafraid of me.
He was also not at all keen to go outside. Snapped at me, even! Brave little chap.
15 Apr 2014 2 Comments
in 1 My books
At long last, after months of writing, rewriting, editing, illustrating, proofreading and formatting, the book exists and is for sale. At the moment, as an e-book on Amazon, but soon there’ll be a print version as well.
Gia’s brother Nico is different from other boys. And being different can be dangerous in Gia’s world. Cape Town is no longer the haven for magical refugees that it once was. The Purists want to get rid of all magic and the newspapers are full of dreadful stories about the Belle Gente, the magical terrorists.
None of this concerns Gia, until the Special Branch— police who investigate the illegal use of magic—come knocking at her door, looking for Nico. When Gia turns to her parents for help, she finds only more secrets. Then she realises that she was the one who put her brother in danger.
You can read the first chapter here: Crooks and Straights sample page
09 Apr 2014 Leave a comment
The book is finished. All I have to do is format it and insert the illustrations. And then…publish! (If you want to be notified when this book is launched, please join my new release mailing list. The ebook will be released first, and the print version some time later.)
Here is the cover – which took me simply ages to get right.
Just to give an idea, here is just a small sample of the contortions I went through to arrive at this design :) First, a very “Deon Meyer” looking cover with a image of the neighbourhood that the book is set in.
Then a starry one that looks far too much like a children’s story. Or maybe not. What on earth does this look like?
Then, a much more dreamy one featuring the full moon, which is an important symbol in this story. Also – I found the right typeface.
…but the moon is not as important as other things! Must have a captured swan, and drops of blood! Things start falling apart a bit here:
Nope, that didn’t work, although I like the blue, red and white. Maybe a combination of the swan, and Deon Meyer?
People said they could not figure out that it IS a swan. Maybe if I zoom in on the thing, it will be better?
No. Not working. Need a completely different direction.
And after much fiddling, and combining with this image below, I arrived at the final cover, which is the one you see right at the top of this post :) .
And that’s that! Such a relief to have it all done.