Monday, 3 September 2018

Multiplying, Colour-Burn and Gaussian Blur

I started with this, drawn on a sheet of scrap paper, copied from a photo of a stuffed fox. I scanned it into the computer. Before I adjusted the contrasts, you could see the type showing through from the other side.

Then I opened the ink sketch in Photoshop, took out the white background of the scrap paper and added a dark background layer. Coloured the drawing, added a title and a screamer.

This is only a try-out for the front cover. I can't do the complete one until I've finished laying out the interior and know how thick the spine will be.
     I used various photos for reference, sometimes using the 'eye-dropper' tool to get an idea of what the colouring should be.
     I was so pleased with the result that I hailed a passing brother. "Cop a butcher's at this," I said.

     He came, he looked. A long silence. Then, grudgingly, "That's pretty good. Come out of it."
     He took over my chair. He over-layered in violet and red. He lowered opacity, multiplied and colour-burned. Recklessly, he employed the polygonal lasso and the Gaussian blur... 
     My good friend Karen Bush tells me that she likes it, but the nose of the fox is a bit wonky. It is, I know, but I don't care. The original stuffed fox in the photo may have had its nose put out of joint -- and in any case the 'bone dog' of the story is a sort of Frankenstein fox, created by witch-craft from an old fox-fur clumsily stitched together.

Here's the completed cover.

Amazon 'suppressed' it for a while because they weren't convinced I own the publishing rights. They seem to do this with every book published with Createspace now, which I suppose is a good thing. Frustrating, though. My friend, the above mentioned Karen Bush, a retired member of this blog, was all set to publish her book about how to deal with your dog's fear of fireworks and had arranged an article in Your Dog magazine to help publicise it.  But because Amazon suppressed her book she now doubts whether she'll be able to get a proof copy and make any alterations before the article appears.

       The Bone Dog is part of a project of mine -- to republish all my out of print books for the age-group 8--10. Since The Wolf's Footprint is my best-seller among my indie-books, it seems to make sense to publish more for that market.

The Wolf's Footprint

Bone Dog is available now, both as paperback
 and kindle

Tuesday, 17 July 2018

Sweating with Wolves

The wolves come...

Friday 13th may be unlucky for some, but not for me.

On Friday July 13th I went into London, to Tiverton Primary School in Tottenham, to see the second performance of a musical play based on my book, The Wolf's Footprint.

It was an exhaustingly hot day -- and I got lost. As I  wandered around, interrupted several people as they were going about their business, to ask the way to Tiverton School. Every single one of these randomly selected people was as friendly and helpful as could be. Several pulled out smart-phones and entered the name of the school, so they could show me where it was and guide me on my way. Thanks to them, I found Tiverton in time for the afternoon session.

So thank you, kindly people of Haringey and Tottenham and especially those -- you know who you are -- who were stopped by a hot and dishevelled writer asking, "Do you know where Tiverton School is?"

At the school I spent the afternoon talking with two great classes about -- oh, how a writer works, the writing of Bremen Town Musicians, ghosts, wolves, fairy-tales. I had a great time. I only hope the children had half as good a time as I did.

Then I got to relax in the staff-room and chat to violinist Anna Jenkins and drummer Sebastien Hankin until it was time for the evening performance.

The play was first performed in 2014 and you can read about it here.

The performance this year, with a different cast, was every bit as good.  I knew how the story was going to turn out, but I was still on the edge of my seat the whole time.

Wicked courtiers try to dissuade the king from helping his starving people -- in song!

The music moves from the sad and poignant to the boisterous and joyful. How the children danced so energetically -- with encores! -- in that heat, I don't know, but they did. The oldest cast members were no more than twelve but they performed with a confidence and engagement that was a delight.

When Resham Mirza, the admirable head-teacher, tweeted that she had watched the show 'with pride,
joy and admiration' I could only echo her. As the head of this wonderful school she has good reason to be proud. As the Head Governer of the school told me, as we sat in the front row, Resham not only nutures all kinds of artistic expression at the school, but they have great academic results too.

And, of course, there is Kate Stilitz, who wrote the music and lyrics and directed, drawing such wonderful performances from her young cast. Follow the link for a look at Kate's website, where you can see something of the many song-cycles and musical pieces she has written for children to perform. More than one of her pieces has been performed at the Royal Festival or Albert Hall.

The villagers celebrate the arrival of food.

 Kate also supplied the trumpeter, Ruben, as he's her son! Grow your own, that's the way.