Christopher Corr is the author and illustrator of the new children's picture book Deep in the Woods, based on a Russian folk tale. He is based in London.
Q: Why did you decide to adapt this folk tale, and did you change it much from the original?
A: The book is based on a Russian story called “Teremok,” a word which is quite difficult to directly translate but it means a “cosy home in the forest.”
There are lots of versions of it in Russian but I decided to keep to a simple nature-loving tale about how friendship and cooperation can make for great and wonderful things and even disasters can be overcome.
Q: Did you write the text before you drew the illustrations, or vice versa?
A: To begin with I wrote a brief synopsis of the story with some small sketches and then I started to visualise the book. I wanted the words and the pictures to be equally powerful and the colours I used to be joyful and moving … a tall order!
Q: What do you hope young readers take away from the story?
A: The central message of the story concerns the importance of friendship and support through the good and the bad times. Cooperation is so much better than conflict. Respect for nature is there too in the book. We must all respect nature.
Q: How did you come up with your style as an artist?
A: I travel a lot to paint and draw and I’m curious and fascinated by the world. I look at a lot of primitive and folk art for inspiration. The similarities and differences among people is wonderful and astonishing at the same time. You don’t need words to communicate.
I draw a lot on location, in the streets and in landscapes and I meet a lot of people. My love for colour came from travelling in India. It was overwhelming and amazing and so beautiful. I try to bring into my work elements that I have seen on my travels.
Q: What are you working on now?
A: I’m currently working on the story of the Chinese Zodiac. It’s a wonderful story with lots of animals and great Chinese landscapes. It will be published in January 2018 by Frances Lincoln Books.
Q: Anything else we should know?
A: It’s a wonderful world! Colour is astonishing. There are so many fascinating stories to be told from all over the world and they can teach us so much. I want to keep exploring and finding old stories to retell.
--Interview with Deborah Kalb