Louise Simpson is an incredibly talented artist and writer and has recently published her first children's book. We were delighted when Louise agreed to tell us more about her beautiful new book and her exciting plans for the future.
Who or what inspired you to become a children’s author and illustrator
My mum always said I'd be an illustrator when I was little but I never thought much of it. I hadn't picked up a paintbrush in years and I was really nervous but I was away for the weekend and it was peaceful. Lily was sleeping Lucas was watching a movie and my husband wasn't with us so I found myself with a little time and googled humpback whales - I sat down and painted Otto. I was pleased with him, I thought he looked a bit cartoony and not like a real whale but I posted him on my instagram feed and lots of people liked him and requested prints for their nurseries and it all went on from there.
What is Creature Features all about?
I tend to think of it as baby science and wanted to do something to inspire children to have an interest in the natural world, to sit and read with their parents and to help children develop their thirst for knowledge, children are born inquisitive and it can be daunting as a parent to encourage that in the right way.
I think as parents we also feel a lot of pressure these days where our children are concerned whether its their diet or their education whatever it is in a social media world there is a lot of pressure to be doing amazing at everything all the time which lets face it none of us really are.
So what I wanted was a combination of pictures that would inspire and engage children along with facts that their parents would enjoy reading and that they didn't necessarily know before but also a book that's not too long. rightly or wrongly my go to bedtime stories are always the short ones not the ones with 2 words per page but not with a million pages either by the kids bedtime parents are completely knackered and still have a todo list to get through thats a good five miles long and I hated the thought that at the end of a long day parents would dread their child picking my book because it dragged on.
So I tried to create something everyone would enjoy reading together quickly. Children love to read the same book over and over and over so I tried to do something that wouldnt leave parents thinking oh no not this again.
What did you enjoy most about creating this book?
All of the research!
Why do you think it is important to encourage children to read and have fun with books?
I love to read, I love research and learning things but more than that I love the way a book can transport you to another time or place and I want to encourage my children to use their imagination and that is the power that books have above anything else.
Do you have any “top tips” for parents and carers who want to help children develop a love of reading?
I think don't read if you are in a bad mood if you're stressed or flustered and you're grumpy reading to your kids, they can tell and develop a negative association with it. The flip side of that being that sometimes when we are stressed or angry or hurt or not coping we can take a breath sit on the floor with our children on our laps sack it all off and we can be transported with them to another world as they explore. Yesall the stuff bothering you before will still be there but after all the cuddles and watching your child explore and enjoy something with you they all seem a bit more manageable.
What advice do you have for children who dream of becoming an author or illustrator?
Did you experience writers block when creating your first book? If so, how did you overcome this without becoming disheartened?
Research. Sometimes all the information seemed predictable and was disheartening but just keep reading sooner or later you will find something you didn't know that engages you and hopefully therefore will engage your readers.
What is your favourite children’s book?
It's called "say hello to the baby animals" by Ian Whybrow, it just rolls off the tongue beautifully and is the right length for both parents and children. I'm classing Alice in Wonderland as a grown up book, otherwise i would have said that.
Have you got plans for more children’s books?
Yes, volume two! Creature Features - Under the Sea will be coming this June.
If you could spend a day with one of the PrenderPals who would it be and why?
Eloise the Emu is my favourite - sweet cuddly and strong and that is what I would like to raise my children to be.
We hope you've enjoyed reading this interview with Louise. We think the illustrations in her new book are stunning and such a lovely way to helo children to learn. If you'd like to enjoy the book with children you love, it is available on amazon.