St Nicolas, Sophy & questions galore!

Year 3 at St Nicolas School with their copies of Bad Nana, Older Not Wiser by Sophy Henn

Year 3 at St Nicolas School got off to a flying start with their adopted Author, Sophy Henn, asking her all sorts of questions – here are just a few, along with Sophy’s replies:

St Nicolas Yr 3: Why are the pages in Bad Nana, Older Not Wiser pink?

Sophy: Well, other than rainbow, PINK is my favourite colour. I think there are so many different shades of pink (pale pink, dusty pink, magenta pink, fluorescent pink, dark pink) that it is the most versatile of all the colours!  BUT the reason I used fluorescent pink for Bad Nana is that many years ago there was a music/fasion/cultural movement called PUNK and they dressed in lots of torn clothes held together with safety pins, leather jackets, had VERY spikey hair and the music was very loud and shouty, but mainly they were rebels and stood up to authority. NOW Bad Nana isn’t an actual punk (maybe she might have been in her youth???) but she is a rebel and she does stand up to bossy boots so I like the idea of her being a bit punky that way. On the album covers of punk records they used the same sort of font (type) as the Bad Nana subhead (Older Not Wiser) and they used fluorescent colours. I tried a few different ones but pink was the one that looked the nicest so we stuck with that.  AND pink is not a girls colour as people often say, in fact up until Victorian times it was actually pink for a boy and blue for a girl!

St Nicolas Yr 3: How did you get your book published?

Sophy: My first book was Where Bear? And I created that when I went back to school in the hopes of doing this for a job ( I was quite old then – a ‘mature’ student). I wrote and illustrated the book for a competition, then I showed it to some agents. Lots of them said no until I finally found one that said yes. Then he showed it to lots of publishers and it turned out a lot of them liked Where Bear? but in the end I chose Puffin to be publisher. I worked with an Editor and an Art Director at Puffin to tidy up this and that, chose fonts and whatnot and then the designer laid it all out on the pages and we sent it away to be proofed. A proof is when a printer prints a couple of copies on the same paper that the finished book will be printed on, using the same inks and everything so we can see exactly what it will look like when it’s finished. At this point we usually change a few things, adjust the colours and then send it off to be properly printed. Then a few months later they all arrive, ready for the shops!

St Nicolas Yr 3: How did you learn to draw?

Sophy: Well, the honest answer is I am still learning! I have always loved to draw, though I was never considered the ‘best’ at school or anything. I went to art college and studied on a foundation course where I did lots and lots of drawing and it was great. Our drawing tutor would sometimes get us to do drawings of things in under 10 seconds and they were often my favourite because they were free and full of energy. Then I worked as an art director in advertising so I was always scribbling down ideas. Then I started illustrating for greetings cards so I was doodling ideas all the time and now I draw most days for my books, and over all that time I can see my that my drawing has improved because you never stop learning. I am also learning how I like to draw, sort of like, my style and that keeps evolving all the time. My best tip for people who want to draw is to just draw, draw, DRAW!!! Draw things around you, draw people you know, draw from imagination but keep drawing and I promise it will get better and better!

And a great question from the Class Teacher: We keep a ‘Magpie’ book with great examples of words, phrases and ideas to use in our own writing. Do you have a book in which you keep ideas?

Sophy: OOOOH I love that the book is called a Magpie book! What a great name! I keep lots of books and I try and have one on me all the time because you never know when you will get an idea (and I forget things very easily so I have to draw or write them down quickly!). I have sketch books for jotting down notes and drawings or working out ideas. They aren’t fancy and they are not very neat, but that’s OK because they are just for me. I like to think of them as places I can go and play with my ideas and nothing is right or wrong because I am just trying stuff out. AND I have scrapbooks (but I might call them magpie books now!) and this is where I stick things I like that I have spotted in newspapers or magazines, or bits of packaging or tickets, or sweet wrappers or anything really. I find them very useful to dip into when I am in my studio and need ideas for colours or patterns or forests or sofas for something I am drawing. And I know they will help and that I am going to like all the things in my scrap books because I PUT THEM THERE!!!!!

Fabulous questions St Nicolas Year 3, and thanks for the wonderful replies Sophy!

Sophy also set St Nicolas a little task so we’ll find out more about that and see how they got on next time. Stay Tuned!

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