AUTHOR INTERVIEW: Shannon Horsfall
Multi-talented author & illustrator Shannon Horsfall has two gorgeous picture books out with HarperCollins and recently sat down with me to answer some questions about her work, creative process, favourite books and more.
Can you tell us a bit about your book(s), and the themes/issues explored?
Without it being a conscious thought, my two books both have characters with spunk. Good hearted, joyful characters who seem to delight (albeit unwittingly) in mischief.
Do you have a favourite picture book (or top three) that you can never get enough of? What about a favourite book character?
Sam and Dave Dig a Hole by Mac Barnett and Jon Klassen in my opinion is the most brilliant example of a picture book. It works superbly on absolutely every level. The design, the illustrations telling a completely different story to the text, the adorable dog character who says nothing, but speaks absolute volumes.
Any tidbits from the publishing process that you could share with regards to working with the publishers?
The most important thing with regards to working with publishers is to be professional. They know what they are doing. Don’t be precious about your work. There is nothing more annoying to a publisher than a writer who believes their story cannot be improved when suggestions are put forward. You don’t have to always agree, but you do need to be open to advice. At the end of the day, the publisher wants the work to be the absolute best it can be, just like you.
Where do you do your writing and illustrating, and do you have any particular rituals in your creative process?
I write everywhere and anywhere. I’m like some crazy lady with notebooks and pens bundled under my arm everywhere I go. I do find I write quite often in the car (not whilst simultaneously driving, that would be bad). It is like I am in my own little cone of creativity with no distractions.
What got you into creating books?
I don’t really think I had a choice. My head is a mess of ideas and stories and I just have to get them out.
Do you have some tips for other creatives?
Do what you love. Create what you love. If you love what you do, I have found, it comes easily. And keep doing it. Daily. I carry a notebook with me everywhere, and I write and sketch almost constantly. You never know where inspiration will appear, and so being prepared to capture it is essential. Inspiration, unless caught in the moment, can disappear just as quickly as it appears.
And be prepared to let things go if they are not working. One of the most valuable things I have learnt is not to force a story or an illustration to go the way you think you want it to. Sometimes, when you let it go, it comes back and shows you the way it wants to be written or drawn.
Bio: Shannon Horsfall is an author illustrator with a background in graphic design. Her first picture book Was Not Me! was published in 2016 by Harper Collins, who also published her second picture book Nomax in June 2017.
Her head is always filled with characters creating mess, mischief and mayhem. Oh, wait, that’s her actual house! Shannon lives on a beautiful island north of Brisbane, with her two sons and a particularly lazy rescue hound. She describes herself as a grown-up whose inner child is not always kept safely inner. (She has been known to gate crash the odd game of Red Rover and elastics.)
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