Interview with Children’s Writer, Coral Vass, and Illustrator, Heidi Cooper about their new picture book ‘Two Birds on a Wire’

Hi Coral and Heidi, thank you for coming onto my blog today.

Congratulations on your new picture book ‘Two Birds on a Wire’. It’s a beauty. I’ve already had  the pleasure of reading it as Coral was our guest author for July at KOALA Kids Book Club and it was a huge hit with the children.

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Firstly, I’d like to ask you a couple of questions, Coral…

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How did come up with the idea for Two Birds on a Wire?

TWO BIRDS ON A WIRE is about two birds, perched on the same wire, both refusing to share the space. I think ‘sharing’ is a universal struggle. And so, one day while watching two little birds fighting with each other up on a wire, I was inspired to write this story.

Cool.

Do you ever get stuck for rhyming words, and if so, how do you move forward from there?

I love writing in rhythm and rhyme. I visit www.rhymes.net and www.thesaurus.com frequently to help me find the BEST word in a sentence. There is nothing worse than an awkward rhyme, so if I can’t find the right word with the right rhythm, I will change the sentence altogether.

 Now, that’s sound advice.

Who’s been the greatest influence in your writing life?

I adore the work of Lynley Dodd and Dr Seuss. Their stories are clever, the rhyming is impeccable and the books are a delight to read.

Is there a book that you’ve read that rocked your world?

There are so many great books around, but there is only one that has stood the test of time….the Bible!

Of course!

And Heidi, I’ve got a few questions for you too, hang on a tick…

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As this is your first foray into children’s picture book illustration, how did the opportunity come to illustrate ‘Two Birds on a Wire?

I’m amazed at how fortunate I have been! When I stumbled across Tania McCartney’s 52 week illustration challenge group in January 2014, I started drawing regularly for the first time since leaving University 20 years ago.

Six months later, I received a message from Koala Books through my Facebook page, asking if I’d like to do a sketch test. The Art Director had been watching the challenge wall and noticed my work. At the time I didn’t realise how big a deal that message was… until the manuscript came through and it was by the wonderfully talented Coral Vass, whose books I had in my collection. I was astounded, and have never been more nervous about creating a drawing!

Luckily Koala books loved the sketch, and a few weeks later I had signed the contract. I’m still pinching myself!

That’s awesome. I love hearing stories like this.

I note on your blog your choice of medium, was coffee one of them? How do you use it?

Coffee is very underrated as a medium. I know some amazing artists who use it like watercolour – mixing up different strengths (using instant coffee) then applying it like paint. I’ve only ever used it as a preliminary wash (after masking very light areas) to give the illustration a uniform warmth and an antique feel. It’s a beautiful colour and gives a slight sheen and texture.

Who has been your greatest artistic influence?

That’s a tricky one. There are illustrators I absolutely love – such as David Roberts and Freya Blackwood – but I don’t try to emulate their styles so I’m not sure I’d say I’m influenced by them. I think my biggest artistic influence is the 52wk challenge! I’m on the admin team now and I frequently look through the wonderful variety of illustrations posted every day. Group members are usually very generous when it comes to sharing their methods and mediums.

The 52 Week Illustration Challenge does look challenging! I imagine it would keep you disciplined though. Check out some of Heidi’s gorgeous artwork here…

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Tell us about your next project?

I have a couple of projects in the works, but I’m most excited about a joint submission I’m working on – the manuscript is simply brilliant and I’m really enjoying bringing it to life!

Good on you Heidi, I hope it all goes well.

You can see more of Heidi’s artwork here on her website. It’s just beautiful!

A big thank you to Heidi Cooper, and my buddy, Coral Vass, for allowing me to interview them and post it on my blog today. I hope that ‘Two Birds on a Wire’ does awesomely well for you both. I’m sure it will, as all children squabble, and they will definitely see themselves in this story…

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7 thoughts on “Interview with Children’s Writer, Coral Vass, and Illustrator, Heidi Cooper about their new picture book ‘Two Birds on a Wire’

  1. Kaylene Savas

    I love picture story books so I’m looking forward to reading this one and admiring some beautiful illustrations. Great interview Neridah.
    Kaylene x

  2. Leanne Regan

    Thanks Neridah, so interesting to learn that coffee is a useful pigment…..and a story with a ‘sharing’theme , always relevant. Some adults are still learning how to do it well!
    Leanne

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