The opportunity to work on this wonderful series came to me completely out of the blue and underlines the huge part luck can play in the career of an illustrator. I am very grateful to Joy Cowley for bringing my work to the attention of Patti Gauch, Brian Jacques’ editor for Philomel Books in New York. Patti gave me a chance to do some trial drawings for Triss and eventually I was commissioned to do nine of Brian’s books: seven from his Redwall series and two from his Castaways of the Flying Dutchman series.
I illustrated seven Redwall books:
Triss - Book 15 (2002)
Loamhedge - Book 16 (2003)
Rakkety Tam - Book 17 (2004)
High Rhulain - Book 18 (2005)
Eulalia - Book 19 (2007)
Doomwyte - Book 20 (2008)
Mossflower – Anniversary Edition (text 1988, illus. 2004)
I thoroughly enjoyed working on these books, not least because they gave me the chance to put my experience of living and working in Edinburgh Zoo in the early 1980s to good use.
Often, wandering around the zoo at night, I would come across foxes and badgers that used the park as a sanctuary. There was (and still is I believe) a huge ancient badger sett at the top of the zoo and beyond the fence, the forest on Corstorphine Hill, the setting I always imagined for Mossflower Wood.
Illustrating these books, and particularly working with Patti Gauch, Michael Green and Philomel’s wonderful art director, Semadar Megged taught me an immense amount about my craft. In particular, the tradition I inherited from earlier Redwall illustrators of splitting the chapter ‘spot’ art into three groups: characters (I always liked drawing the villains best), landscape and still life
has really helped me think laterally across subject matter.
Redwall still life
Riggu and Atunra
In 2004 I was given the job of illustrating the Anniversary Edition of Mossflower with large black and white plates. I would dearly have loved to do them in colour, like the image shown here:
..eagle and fox rose into the sky.
The Castaways of the Flying Dutchman series
I shared Brian’s passion for the sea and these two stories, The Angel’s Command (2003) and Voyage of Slaves (2006), gave me lots of opportunities with piratical characters, ships and water.