Meet the Author

Susie Tyler

Illustrator Susie Tyler

It’s time for a very big “hooray” as our featured illustrator is Susie Tyler who works in one of our libraries when she is not drawing beautiful pictures. She has been working on a new book with Devon author Coralie Sparkles: if you re-arrange the letters you get her other name, Amy Sparkes (well, nearly), one of my perviously featured authors. You must check out “Estella and the Falling Star” if you have a chance. Over to you, Susie…

M@x

Have you always been an illustrator?

Susie

I have always loved drawing and knew that I wanted to be able to do it as a job. When I started work in a book shop after college, I fell in love with the illustrations in all the children’s books and something clicked. I realised that was the job I wanted above all else, and started researching lots of different illustrators, and looking closely at many different books.  Gradually I got better at it, and as time passed, people started asking me to do drawings for them. Slowly, it became a real job!

M@x

Where do you get your ideas from for your illustrations?

SusieFrom real life, usually, or memories, or sometimes from dreams I’ve had. I might see something beautiful or funny out and about, and that might trigger a story or a picture, or both.
M@xWhat is a typical day for you?
Susie

It always starts with a big cup of tea, and many more cups of tea throughout the day! And there are always my two cats trying to get on my lap or lie on my work! I try to do as much drawing as possible before getting on with other jobs like emails or scanning images, or all the little bits and bobs I have to do to get my work ready to sell in shops and at craft fairs. If I get tired or stiff, I go for a short walk or go and run some errands, or hang up some laundry. I also work part-time in a library, so my days are quite split up sometimes.

M@xDo you have a favourite place where you work on your illustrations?
Susie

Yes, I have several favourite places, depending on the weather and what I’m doing. Generally, I sit up in our attic room at a big round table under a skylight, or in our “nook”, a deep window seat with piles of cushions, or in the garden under a big brolley. Sometimes when it’s really chilly I sit on the sofa in the lounge under our snuggliest blanket that my Mum knitted.

M@xWhich of your own books/characters do you like best and why?
Susie

I really love a character called Gideon, a young boy who sits in a tree in one of my favourite drawings. He is kind of carefree and loves nature. I love finding wonderful trees to sit in. I also love a fat little robin that I drew for a Christmas card. He is very dumpy and kind of cool, whistling away with earmuffs on.

M@xWho was your favourite author when you were a child?
Susie

Oh, so many! I loved all of Shirley Hughes books, and Janet and Alan Ahlberg. Peepo and Each Peach Pear Plum, Dogger, these were all dearly loved in my home. I also adored all the Brambly Hedge stories as they were so homely and full of delicious little details to pore over while Mum and Dad read aloud at bedtimes. Later I loved Anne of Green Gables, The Hobbit, and quite a few horsey stories I must admit. I liked old fashioned adventure stories.

M@xAre you working on any new material now?
Susie

Yes, I have several ideas on the go. I hope to illustrate another book in the Mermaid Legends series by Amy Sparkes (writing as Coralie Sparkles.) And I have some of my own picture book stories to illustrate.

M@xDo you have any advice for would-be illustrators?
SusieAll I can really say, is to keep going. If you love drawing, just keep practicing. Don’t be disheartened, and be prepared to make mistakes or to be disappointed sometimes. That’s not the end picture! Look at other artists’ work and form you own opinions and tastes. Look at different styles and different materials. Draw things you enjoy drawing, but also draw things that challenge you.