'The best books, reviewed with insight and charm, but without compromise.'
- author Jackie French

Thursday 15 July 2010

Author/Illustrator Interview: Teresa Culkin-Lawrence

Author and illustrator Teresa Culkin-Lawrence is our guest on Kids Book Review today. Teresa creates beautiful books for children, and her series for babies will soon be reviewed right here. You can see her work at teresaculkinlawrence.com.au and follow her blog at teresaculkinlawrence.blogspot.com.

Tell us a little about you: what’s your background, your story? As a child, I was always drawing and people seemed to always say that I was ‘such a good drawer!’ I saw it as something special in me. I started illustrating about 20 years ago after I studied Textile Design (trying to be practical) and discovered I really just loved drawing! I have since gone back to Uni and have a degree in English and Visual Art.

What genre do you write in? So far, I have written a series of board books for babies, a chapter book for 8+s about a greyhound racing dog and a few picture books.

What other genres have you written in? I wrote an academic article once about Nicole Kidman – published in Screen Education.

What do you love about writing and illustrating for children? I love that I can convey so much with a few simple lines. I’m so happy when those simple lines with a bit of colour add up to a whole story. I feel that I carry my childhood vividly inside me and can access it when I need to illustrate.

Which came first, the writing or the illustrating? Illustrating, but I remember writing stories in school and teachers always wanting to read them out loud which made me very proud. I did have a job as a copywriter once too, before I ever illustrated.

What types of things inspire your work? Other illustrators, artists, magazines and exhibitions inspire me. Sometimes just one little image will set me off.

What are the greatest blocks or obstacles you have experienced on your book-writing journey? Fear of not being good, cool, smart, edgy (feel free to add here) or funny enough.

What’s a typical writing and illustrating day? After brekky, get a latte at the local cafĂ© and sit down at the desk. Turn on computer and tweet. After some procrastination, I finally get going on the drawing. I like to have the desk clear and neat but usually end up in a mess. I tend to get more productive as the day wears on and can end up working long into the night.

What advice do you have on writing and illustrating? None, I’m afraid (there’s that fear again!).

If you couldn’t be an illustrator and writer, what would you be? Perhaps I’d run a beautiful providore with local produce and great cake and coffee.

What books did you read as a child? A Friend is Someone Who Likes You, Angelo, Illustrated by Quentin Blake, anything illustrated by Edward Ardizzone, Madeline, Puppy Summer, A.A. Milne, Enid Blyton. When my dad took me to the library, it was always exciting.

What else do you like to do, other than write and illustrate books? I recently opened a shop. My studio’s in the shop – an old one in Main St, Beeac, Victoria. And I thought, well I’m sitting here drawing in the shop, why not open the shop too? So I’ve started putting together a range of books and artisan products. Also, I try to do the odd bit of yoga. And I’d really like to take up horse riding.

What would be your perfect day? Up early, yoga. Porridge followed by a perfect latte. Do two amazing illustrations by about 2pm. Then a leisurely nap from which I wake naturally. Then up for dinner with friends and family. And, after that a fabulous film and some chocolate.

What five words best sum you up? Enthusiatic, Pedantic, Kind, Chatty, Limber.

What’s next for Teresa Culkin-Lawrence? Another book about babies, an exhibition coming up and hopefully a holiday with some horse riding.