When I was much younger and thought the publishing world would fall at my feet on my graduation day, (1993) I dreamed of important brainstorming meetings, full of ideas whizzing around, ending with a nice lunch at *some little place*. It has taken eighteen long years for it to happen but I am happy to report that the reality is even better than the dream. Planning the world of Puddletown with Templar meant a few visits to the offices, where a few hours would be spent thrashing out the storylines and the basic design of every layer of each spread.
When I arrive at the Templar premises, I'm usually taken to this nice meeting room and offered coffee; much needed as to get here has meant getting up at 6am, to catch the early commuter bus to a train station, finally arriving at about 10.30. My eyes are like slits by now. This particular meeting was to deliver the felt toys for 'Mrs Mouse's Cupcakes' and to go through the next book. To celebrate, cupcakes had been bought in.
I get first pick, choosing the lemon one. This is a cover proposal for the next book, made up by Janie, the designer. Just a dummy. So many mock ups have been made as the formats have gradually evolved. The post-it note is querying the exact shade of blue for the outer frame, such is the level of detail invested in the production. Notice her thick pile of notes beneath.
The big moment, the unveiling of the toys! Although I have emailed jpegs of them to Janie, (who makes my work look beautiful in the books) neither she nor Hannah, the editor, on the right, have seen the real things. I am so lucky to be working with these ladies, who are on the same wave length as I am, which means that planning my books has been such fun. It's almost as if they've been to Puddletown themselves...
Janie, like myself, hates having her photo taken. Hannah has a gorgeous smile! She is the clever hand behind the stories; once we've made ourselves slightly sick on cupcakes, we spend a couple of hours going through the next story, 'Peggy's Lost Pennies'. Hannah takes my ideas, they are thrown into the pot and thrashed out almost word for word (do we use *grinning* or *beaming*? I decide beaming, more in tune with the character). Later she writes up the final story, far better than I could. Janie too puts in ideas for how the storyline develops, so by the end we have all stirred the pot, like three benign witches.
You would not believe how much work goes into producing a simple five page story book. By lunchtime, after an intense morning, with much scribbling, note taking and discussion, we have basically sorted out 'Peggy's Lost Pennies' and are ready for lunch. At *some little place*, just as I used to dream of. Lots of gossip and chat, because although Janie and Hannah are work colleagues, we all get on very well. And, because it is my big day out, I am treated to ice cream. Days like this are very special indeed.
A plea for helpI believe that the Puddletown books were offered in an Easter giveaway in a magazine called the Sunday Post Extra - I think I've missed the boat in finding a copy, so if anyone has the page (45) and is willing to send it to me, I'd willingly swap it for a pack of postcards like these.