Tuesday, October 8, 2019

Q&A with Katie Cottle

Katie Cottle is the author and illustrator of the new children's picture book The Green Giant. She lives in Bristol, UK.

Q: How did you come up with the idea for The Green Giant?

A: It all stemmed from a trip to the botanical gardens which I visited whilst at uni. I was making drawings of the plants and it grew into a story about a magical greenhouse. It was a little sinister at first, with a gardener getting stuck inside! 

After some reworking, a more friendly giant made much more sense. 

Q: Did you work on the text along with the illustrations, or did you focus more on one and then the other?

A: I do tend to focus on the illustrations first, as that's the thing I love doing the most! Doodling characters in funny scenarios, and sketching out ideas is how the writing comes together - I just need to describe what's happening in the pictures.

Although sometimes I'll be doing something completely benign and a sentence forms in my head ready to go!

Q: Can you describe the process you used to create the illustrations?

A: It's taken me a while to figure out my process, and it's still something that's growing with me. The pages/spreads all get laid out as thumbnail sketches (which are often super rough, and not very impressive to look at).

Once these are okay, I'll start working them up. I'll sketch it out “life-size” a few times, then paint it out using gouache, pencils, crayons, spray paint - anything, really! Lots of the leaves are made from cutting out scrap bits of paper, or old painting bits which is really fun.

Then I scan it all in, arrange on my computer, and do a lot more drawing/working over the top. I draw a lot on my iPad too! 

Q: What do you hope kids take away from the book?

A: I hope they'll take away an interest in nature, outdoors and any green spaces around them, and also the want to learn more about it.

It's really encouraging seeing a lot of kids taking an interest in the environment at the moment - in the UK especially I've seen a bunch of school children striking for climate change which is awesome!

Q: What are you working on now?

A: I've just finished up the artwork for a new picture book! It's another outdoorsy, eco story and I'm really excited for people to see it. It's called The Blue Giant, and set in the ocean. 

Q: Anything else we should know?

A: I don't actually have a garden as I live in a flat in the city - just like Bea in The Green Giant! Houseplants are excellent companions.  

--Interview with Deborah Kalb

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