Tuesday, 26 November 2013

A brief get-away

With the printing of Princess Petunia's Dragon imminent, we took a short break away from our tropical home. We wanted a contrast to the daily grind of Singapore, so we chose to stay in the heart of Hanoi which we visited last year, and to take a trip to Halong Bay. 

We were the only ones who stayed for two nights on the boat. On our 'middle' day, we were on our own, looked after royally by a lovely girl. I was in a sketching mood, so I made this one of her, and gave it to her.  Later she led us in kayaks through rock overhangs to quiet places away from the busy bay. And told us so much about her life and family in the fishing village which will soon be requisitioned by the government. 

Thank you and good luck with everything, Tran Hung Gam!
 I'll let the photos and my quick sketches do the talking.

Monday, 11 November 2013

The proof - It's behind you!

Over the last week or so, I've been to two big events with David Seow, prolific picture book author. First, watching the proofs of his new book, Sam, Sebbie and Di-di-di at the SEA Aquarium, sliding off the presses. And then, the first dramatization of his wonderful story, Soup on my Fly, by The Learning Connection

First we hot foot it to the printers, to see the page proofs with Stephanie Wong, Epigram's designer, checking the colour matches. 
Here are the proofs showing Soefara's lovely, lively illustrations. (And don't worry, the illustrations look odd in this order, but it's because they are cut and folded to make the final book!).

I love seeing all the activity at the printers, the noise of the machines as the book comes to life - and of course it's easy for me because it isn't my book! It will be my turn with Princess Petunia's Dragon in a few weeks' time...!

Soefara couldn't help a big smile with the cover proof. This is the second book she has illustrated in David's 'Sam, Sebbie and Di-di-di' series, after At the Night Safari.  Both great reads, and a super way to see a glimpse of Singapore through children's eyes. 

The next meet-up required David, Catherine and me to drive out to a nursery school at Changi. 'Soup on my Fly' was being staged for its very first time before being taken round schools and stages early next year. The story of a boy desperate for a pet may be aimed at nursery and infant schools, but the acting, singing and dancing were truly infectious for us writers. 

David watched warily as his story was retold on the stage. The actors used both puppets and costumes for the different animals involved (the fly in the title is very versatile!). All the children were entranced, joining in with all the animal sounds and bouncing in anticipation at every cliff-hanger. 

 Full-marks to the young cast for a wonderfully entertaining romp and keeping a whole room of infants mesmerized! I wouldn't dare try my hand at manipulating a puppet in the shape of a fly. But there again, that Tango number early in the play would be great fun. Any takers?

FInally, here's the author in the middle surrounded by the cast and obviously very pleased with the result! 
Thanks to David, the talented TLC cast, and Catherine Carvell for a very enjoyable morning.  

Sunday, 10 November 2013

Comic times with the Etherington Brothers

What better way is there to spend a Sunday morning than learning how to create a comic strip?  

And who best to learn it from? The British duo, Lorenzo and Robin Etherington at the Singapore Writers Festival.

Their energy and ideas came shooting, across the lecture room, galvanizing us all into action so that after an hour and a half some of us had already created a workable comic strip!

As you can see from the photo, Robin (right), the writer, is a comic character himself. And his brother Lorenzo, the artist, is no shrinking violet either.  

Between them they coached us in creating character, drawing thumb-nail sketches, finding the key frame and ....having fun!!  It was so well delivered it didn't matter that friend and fellow writer Evelyn Wong (above) and I are not comic strip artists, we still managed to come up with new ideas and learn from these two masters. 

So now I have new characters and stories crashing around in my head - pow, zap, wham...eek! And, of course, signed copies of their books, Monkey Nuts and Baggage (published by David Fickling Books).

Thank you, guys. Can't wait to catch up with you in another corner of the globe.
For a real lift, check their blog: http://theetheringtonbrothers.blogspot.sg/