Tuesday, 21 August 2018

An interview with Kelly Robinson-Key: Children's author & illustrator

      Following on from my recent interview with creative Georgia Flynn, I was excited to see who I could speak to next - and with Kelly Robinson-Key's debut children's book launching today, I thought she would be perfect. Kelly is an author, illustrator and photographer living in Wales with her lovely family. Enjoy!


What initially inspired you to start writing rhymes and stories? My children inspire me to write. I didn’t realise until recently, whilst searching through boxes, that I have been interested in writing and illustrating since an early age. I have come across several stories and rhymes that I have written over the years. But once I had my children the passion really came through. I struggled to find fun educational stories for children or ones that show courage. So I decided to try and write some myself - I now write daily and love every minute of it.

As an illustrator too, you’re clearly really creative. Have you always been, or is it something that has come as you’ve grown up? I spent most of my life working hard to be a scientist. I wanted to be inspirational but I wasn’t sure what doing - I loved wildlife so chose a science path. I used to love drawing as a child but stopped for many years. I never thought I was any good at it. After my son was born 10 weeks early and very poorly I was forced to quit my career. But I had to do something to bring money in so I started doing photography. It started with wildlife but after friends saw photos of my son I started to get booked for shoots. This taught me how to use Photoshop where I eventually learned to illustrate using the program. I have a long way to go before I am a good illustrator but I am enjoying the process.

You’re self-publishing your upcoming children’s book, Henry the Hula Hooping Hippo - what has been the hardest part of the process? I started writing Henry 3 years ago so it has been a long process and a real learning curve. Originally I only had it available as an eBook but earlier this year I decided to try to publish it as an actual book. I have found it complicated and it has taken quite a lot of research but the hardest part was probably the illustration. I started illustrating with pastels but struggled to scan this. So then I drew with a pen then added the colour once it was in photoshop.


Do you think people view children’s authors differently to authors who write for adults? Oh what an interesting question. I am not sure if I have been in the industry long enough to know from an authors point of view. But as a reader (I spoke about this with my husband and he had a similar view) I see adult authors as more serious, especially novel writers. They have to be very disciplined to be able to write for such long periods of time. Whereas a children’s author, one that writes for young children especially, could be seen as more relaxed and possibly quite fun. You won’t sell many children’s books if you don’t read them in a enthusiastic and excitable way.

What did your own kids think when they read your new book for this first time? I recorded myself reading Henry as an eBook and uploaded it to youtube. My daughter, who is three, would watch this a lot. I don’t know if she just loved the story or loved the fact her mummy was reading it. When my proof copy came through the post last week she screamed in excitement, and since then has read it every night. She adores Henry so much so that my mum is making her a teddy version.

Do you see yourself writing more children’s books in the future? I have written quite a few stories now but need to publish them, either traditionally or by self publishing. It is a dream to be traditionally published but it is quite difficult. I write a lot of short stories and rhymes which I upload daily to my social media accounts. I have a good feeling that writing is what I will do for the rest of my life and am extremely excited to watch my career grow.


Your lovely illustrations come as clothing, too - what prompted you to start offering these? Around two years ago my husband and I came up with a clothing line called Eco Badger. I have a friend whose family run an eco clothing business where they print on demand organic cotton tops. The company is called Teemill and they have a really user friendly website. We closed Eco Badger after I became ill and needed a break, but I started it up again recently to add to my website and offer my much loved illustrations as clothing.

Who are your biggest inspirations when it comes to other authors and illustrators? One of my favourite children’s authors of today is a wonderful women called Rachel Bright. My children love her books and they always have good meaning. I highly recommend The Squirrels Who Squabbled and The Lion Inside. They are actually illustrated by my favourite illustrator Jim Field. He also illustrates the well known book series Oi Frog. These are both highly inspirational and have worked very hard to be where they are today. Having Jim Field illustrate one of my books would be a dream.

Where can people find you online, and where can we find Henry the Hula Hooping Hippo?
I have a website which links to all my social media and shops. This is www.kellyrobinsonkey.com
Facebook : www.facebook.com/krkprints
Instagram: www.instagram.com/krobinsonkeyauthor/
Twitter: www.twitter.com/KRobinsonKey
Amazon is where you can purchase Henry the Hula Hooping Hippo

      Big thanks to Kelly for letting me interview her, and congrats on the book launch! So exciting.


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