For this blog post, author and illustrator Conor Busuttil tells us all about creating his latest book, Billy Conker’s Nature-Spotting Adventure.
From a young age, I was absolutely fascinated with nature and the wildlife around me. Growing up in the countryside near Strangford Lough in County Down, there were plenty of opportunities to explore and learn about nature. So, when given the nudge to write my own book, it simply had to be about animals and the issues they currently face.
It was my lovely agent Gill McLay who suggested that I should do some sort of hide-and-seek book – she knows I love drawing in intricate detail and hiding little things within the page. I will admit, butterflies came to my tummy at the thought of the task ahead, but once The O’Brien Press, and the late publisher Michael O’Brien in particular, gave their instant support – we were off!
I draw in quite a traditional way – pencil, pen and ink, then watercolour – so any faults could be fatal. However, with the awesome team of designer Emma and editor Nicola there to assess everything and be my support on certain days, I sincerely enjoyed every stage of the process.
Here is one of my favourite pieces to work on: the Ocean spread. I loved researching all the diverse creatures, as well as the challenge of drawing an underwater scene.
Everything would begin in very rough pencils. I was confident enough in my animal knowledge, but I soon found there was so much more I had to learn. Although the book doesn’t mention specific locations, I still needed to make sure that the animals on each spread could co-exist and possibly bump into each other at some stage.
It was a joy to draw some of these wonderful, interesting creatures – every time I did an internet search or pulled out my wildlife books for reference, I would learn something new.
One of my favourites to create from the Ocean scene had to be the humpback. Whale-watching is a dream I have yet to check off my bucket list!Continue reading “Billy Conker’s Blog Posting Adventure”