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

Thursday 4 July 2019

Guest Post Interview Lucinda Gifford

So Lucinda…I hear you are of royalty and a princess just like dear Princess Peony. Apparently, you also live among trolls and one dragon?
I'm so happy you want to know about my own princess background. As a little girl, certain teachers and neighbours often referred to me as 'a bit of a madam', so I take that to mean I am actually a princess deep down.

Also, our family visited my Great Uncle several times a year. He lived in a Scottish castle, which was perfect for exploring, bossing peacocks around and playing hide and seek. I pretended it was MY castle. Look at my castle!

Wouldn’t you be too busy with princess things to illustrate a children’s book? I heard it is a lot of work.
My current castle, in the northern suburbs of Melbourne, is rather bijou. But organising the castle and its occupants – including an exceptionally greedy dragon – still takes up a lot of my time. So I'm glad that the 80+ illustrations for Princess Peony were two colour! Working in two colours is not much extra work compared to black and white, whereas full-colour is very time-consuming. And the bright purple makes 'The Second Adventures of Princess Peony' look deservedly royal.

How long all together did the illustrations take you?
The aristocratic illustrator requires many hours on the ottoman sipping tea and thinking deep thoughts. This is, or course, how creative compositions and characters emerge. However, my staff have added up the actual hours and tell me it's about six weeks (200 hours), including admin and phone calls. 
Is there anyone in your life who Princess Peony’s looks are inspired by?
There WAS a little girl with a messy ponytail I used to babysit years ago. Obviously I'm too discreet  to mention her name as she is now a grown-up actor. She was princess of her household and would command me to sing 'goodnight sweet Sarah' lullabies to each of her soft toys (all her toys were called Sarah!).
What do you prefer illustrating – a series or a single standing picture book?
Like Princess Peony, illustrators are SMART. And we know that if you illustrate more than one book in a series, you only have to develop the main characters once. This is preferable and leaves more time for royal pursuits. However, when the author adds a ton of frogs, toads, princes, lions, horses and unicorns we can become a little ruffled and will need to rest on the ottoman more often. 
Your first thoughts when you heard about this project?
At last, a book that solves the centuries-old problem of confusing toads for frogs. Who knows how many problems this has caused?
 'The greatest thing about being a princess is…?'
 Having a pet dragon of course!
What is your favourite medium for illustrating?
Now.... though I am not too posh to pick up pen and pencil, it is time to confess just how immensely useful my computer is. Right now I'm in the royal illustration suite working on hundreds of black and white illustrations – and so PhotoShop and Procreate are my favourite mediums. They're fast, flexible, responsive, no mess, reliable, compact, forgiving, paper-saving and fast (Princesses are allowed to say important words twice). Computers are a wonderful gift to illustrators. If I could knight my computer I would.
How much experience do you have in drawing trolls?
Aha! I'm so glad you asked! Like you, Dame Katrin, I have extensive experience in recreating fairy-tale trolls. 

Lucinda, last but not least can we please delight our readers with a heart to heart confession – in your teeny weeny tiny book of princess mistakes, what will we find??
While absorbed in my important work, I often forget that staff are not in attendance in the kitchen. Today I boiled a leek and zucchini soup down to a globulous puddle. Last week I incinerated a stew. But, of course, an actual princess is never perfect.