How does a picture-book begin? Every writer/illustrator will give you a different answer, but with ‘Wild Wolf’ it began very slowly.
The idea became a real plan for a book after visiting Canada in 2006 and 2007. I took many photographs of First Nation artwork, of needlework and quillwork, to help me imagine the story. Other images of the Rocky Mountains and the snow, trees, and lakes made the background come to life.
It was the sighting of the lone black wolf crossing the highway in the Rockies that really helped to create my version of the story.
In the room where I work, a cupboard door has a ‘map’ of a picture book.
I write the story and divide it into twelve parts, each double-spread needs something exciting to keep the story moving.
From this you will see that it is quite a practical thing to craft a picture-book. Any heartfelt inspiration might come later on, if I am lucky.
My involvement with the idea gathers pace until the atmosphere of the book is completely all round me.( I bought some sound tracks of American Tribal music, and also of wolves howling !! Wonderful.)
I begin with the first double-spread of the story, ( the map shows these are pages 6 & 7 ) I used oil pastels for ‘Wild Wolf’.
Rather tatty and worn oil pastels, but these are the crayons I used to illustrate all of the ‘Wild Wolf’ book.
I completed the first double-spread in about a week, and then continued doing each double spread until the story was complete.
The whole book was completed in about six to eight months and was finished in about 2008.
Three or four years ago the story of the publishing of ‘Wild Wolf’ began.
Without a publisher my book would not exist.
But that is another story…
This post was written for Just Imagine by author/illustrator Fiona French. Her latest title Wild Wolf was published 6 February 2020 by Otter-Barry Books.