Book People: Kate Knapp
I have long adored the work of artist Kate Knapp (still coveting the chook picture) and I was so pleased when she wrote and illustrated her first children’s book, ‘Ruby Red Shoes’. The second book in this series, ‘Ruby Red Shoes Goes to Paris’ was released recently and you can see my review here. Kate’s work is full of whimsy, magic and hope. The little creatures she fills her pages with are gorgeous and children and adults alike can spend hours lost in the detail. Publisher, Harper Collins, has done justice to these lovely books with great production quality (think hardback, thick paper and luscious colour) and they really are the perfect gift book set for little people. I am so pleased to be able to feature Kate in my ‘Book People’ series…I particularly like her response to the final question – I couldn’t agree more Kate!
Ten Things You Need to Know About Kate Knapp
1. Tell us about your latest book.
My latest book ‘Ruby Red Shoes Goes to Paris’ follows Ruby Red Shoes as she goes on a holiday to Paris with her grandmother, Babushka Galushka. The book begins with Ruby and Babushka excitedly preparing to leave home. They are packing their suitcases and farewelling Ruby’s chickens before boarding the aeroplane. After arriving in Paris they meet up with Babushka’s brother, Monsieur Gaspar Galushka and his grandson Felix. The book is a hares-eye-view of Paris as Ruby and Felix beetle around the cobblestone streets on scooters all the while recording what they see in a notebook.
The travels of my childhood inspired this book. My sister and I loved the adventure of leaving home to visit family in overseas. Soaring through the skies, spying down upon what looked like miniature cities and then arriving in a totally new place was a thrilling for us. I specifically remember one trip in England where my sister and I were allowed to set off to the high street shops unsupervised. I wanted to give Ruby this feeling of freedom so I set her off around Paris with her cousin Felix.
Ruby also experiences what I remember of the first night somewhere new when the sun goes down and exhaustion makes you feel very small and a long way from home. When as a child you’ve suddenly had enough adventure and just want to be in your own bed.
The book also celebrates the love of family and friends and Ruby’s own spirituality, which are her beloved stars, a constant wherever in the world she is.
I did write stories as a child but never really planned on being a writer. Even now I think of myself as an illustrator that sometimes paints in words.
3. What does a typical day look like for you?
A typical day for me usually begins with a walk to hear the birds and feel the sunshine, then a stop for coffee along the way. I begin work at 9am with the wonderful girls who work alongside me. There is a plenty of design and administration work to do on an everyday basis, then I illustrate in cycles. The latest Ruby book took eight months of illustrating seven days a week. I’m about to begin a new cycle of illustrations for greeting cards and stationery so it’s out of the office and into the art room.
4. Can you describe your workspace for us?
My workspace has one room with a huge table that I paint on. There are lots of books and inspirational mementos around. Then another room has computers and all the things needed for the office and design studio.
5. Any words of advice for young readers and writers?
Write about what interests you or what you love. Being authentic is how you can connect with your audience. It is also motivation that keeps you going when things are not going so well.
6. Do you have a favourite book or character?
I love John Burningham’s children’s books. His book Aldo is especially magical. It’s about a rabbit called Aldo who is the imaginary friend of a lonely girl. He reads her stories after she has bad dreams, is there when her parents argue and if friends are mean. He also takes her to wonderful places where she can do anything, like ice skating.
An actress, park ranger or paramedic.
8. What is your favourite food to eat and/or your favourite music to listen to whilst you are working on your books?
I listen to an assortment of many kinds of music. If I need to be highly focused I listen to Mozart. If I want to feel floaty I listen to Ravi Shankar.
9. How much of yourself or people you know is in your books?
My books do reflect a lot of the experiences I’ve had and the people in my life that I love. I can only write and illustrate what I have felt.
10. If you could have one wish for the world what would it be?
I wish for the world that in the years to come there are still forests of trees for the birds to sit in and us to sit under. And clean oceans to soothe our souls.
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