The Interview: Bookbag Talks To Sarah Dyer

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The Interview: Bookbag Talks To Sarah Dyer


Summary: Bookbag was charmed by the unique illustrations and quirky tale in The Girl With The Bird's Nest Hair by Sarah Dyer. We jumped at the chance to ask Sarah some questions about her work.
Date: 22 May 2009
Interviewer: Keith Dudhnath
Reviewed by Keith Dudhnath

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Bookbag was charmed by the unique illustrations and quirky tale in The Girl With The Bird's Nest Hair by Sarah Dyer. We jumped at the chance to ask Sarah some questions about her work.

  • Bookbag: When you close your eyes and imagine your readers, who do you see?

Sarah Dyer: Everyone, I like to hope. From parents reading it to young children and children reading it themselves. I never like to see my books particularly for one age group or only boys or girls. I write the story because I want to tell it and hope there are plenty of people out there to enjoy it.

  • BB: Is Hollie based on anyone in particular?

SD: She is named after a friend's daughter who has similar hair, but really she is a character for all little girls that at some point have to have their hair brushed by their mothers and perhaps don't enjoy it much!

  • BB: We loved the quirky and fresh style of your illustrations. Which other illustrators or artists have influenced you?

SD: I love Kveta Pacovska - she is a true genius. Her charcters, colour and compostion are just amazing. I also love Bruce Ingman, Marc Boutavant and Jeff Fisher. I also have always admired Janet Ahlberg, especially as this time I wrote the book in rhyme - and Each Peach Pear Plum was always a favourite book of mine.

  • BB: Which is better: scruffy or neat?

SD: My hair is super neat... but then it is very straight. I think any way is good - just watch out for settling birds...

  • BB: Which of the birds in Hollie's hair is your favourite and why?

SD: I think it's too difficult to pick just one. I wanted to include as many British birds as possible and have a guide at the beginnning so you could tell what they were when looking through the book. The most fun to draw were probably the turkeys and the peacock.

  • BB: Is it hard for children's authors and illustrators to get the recognition that adult novelists get?

SD: Yes probably, but that is probably because our audience is a lot younger than adult novelists and so that regonition comes in different ways. However, saying that, whenever I do any book festivals there really is nothing better than pleasing a group of 4-7 year olds with my story and illustrations. If they think you are the best thing since sliced bread then that is better than any other type of recognition anyway!

  • BB: Which three books should every child read?

SD: Oh that's a hard question. I loved these as a kid and still do now, but I think everyone is different, so go out read and discover for yourselves, but in the meantime this would be a nice place to start - Each Peach Pear Plum by Janet Ahlberg and Allan Ahlberg, Where the Wild Things Are by Maurice Sendak and Not Now, Bernard by David McKee.

  • BB: What are you reading at the moment?

SD: I'm doing an MA at Brighton in Sequential Design & Illustration, so lots of books for that. Mainly books on narrative and fairy/folk tales - work related, I'm afraid, nothing fun!

  • BB: Which book has most influenced you and do you still have a copy?

SD: I think as a student I was most influenced by Maurice Sendak and Kveta Pacovska. My favourite book as a child though was [[Three Little Kittens by Paul Galdone but it's not a particularly great story. It's just something that reminds me of being young. I do have a copy of it though.

  • BB: What's next for Sarah Dyer?

SD: I have just finished another children's book, this time for Frances Lincoln and I'm hoping to start work on something very soon for Bloomsbury!

  • BB: Thanks a lot, Sarah - we can't wait to read the new books!

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