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PAM ROYDS 1924 - 2016

Pam Royds on Grasmere , 1971 with Sally Christie, children’s author and daughter of Philippa Pearce. I was just twenty two when I fir...

About Me

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My blog is about writing and illustrating children's books which I have been doing since 1974. www.gillianmcclure.com has all my books. I also have another blog: www.paulcoltman.blogspot.com where I publish my father's poems.

Sunday, 29 July 2012


The beach that inspired my new story We’re Going to Build a Dam is Kiloran Bay on the Isle of Colonsay. Here are some sketches done long ago on family holidays.

Having worked a lot on the layouts of this book, my focus is now on the colour and texture of its beach setting. I’m doing colour roughs in watercolour on Arches NOT, a french water colour paper which gives a bit of texture but what I really want is that flecked, print-making look. Not being a print maker, I have to replicate it with wax resistance and random patterns of masking fluid.

   A visit to Old Hunstanton Beach, after a Waterstones signing at Kings Lynn last Saturday, helped me with beach details: the sky reflected in ripple patterns on the wet sand – a raw umber colour – the debris: scattered scraps of seaweed, driftwood, pebbles and shells in sharp relief on the long stretches of dry sand – catching the light and casting shadows.

    Each book, unless it’s going to be a sequel to the last, demands a new look which is always a challenge. I’ve decided with this one to emphasise light and shadow, using a black pen and ink line, instead of my usual softer line. Here’s a colour rough.

Sunday, 22 July 2012


Alongside doing the character thumbnails of the new book, I’m now working on the page layouts. I have the text in first-draft form but the moment I start to place images alongside words, the text moves into a second draft; I see words that can be removed and sentences that can be improved to fit in with what’s going on visually around them.

    I like this part of getting started - thinking spatially in broad sweeps - and the hours start to go by quickly. I’ve always liked working to Radio 3 rather than Radio 4 where the talking distracts me but I’m finding these days there’s more and more chat creeping into Radio 3, with its ‘brain teasers’ and invited guests. Strange to think, that in order to create words we need to be in a space where there are no words.

Sunday, 15 July 2012


Getting started on a new picture book seems to take more effort and more will power than ever before. After the rush of school visits, bookshop events, RLF work, not to mention all the Plaister Press work,  there’s now just the blank sheet of paper, the slow tick of the clock and the endless rain on the roof.
In the first few days of the first week, I never got anywhere near working a full morning – fleeing the drawing board long before lunch break to check emails and anything else on-line that could distract me from a feeling of isolation from the real world. But gradually, day by day, there would be one drawing out of all the discarded ones that would lead me on to another until suddenly I knew what the dog in my subplot, and the boys in my main plot were going to look like...

Sunday, 8 July 2012


Here are some pages from the picture books done by children who came to a weekly art class held in my house when they were primary school age. Now they are grown up and two have just graduated from art college. Here's  Alice Maughan

So it was a great pleasure to have one of them back again last week doing two day's work-experience for Plaister Press. On the Thursday, she sat in on a meeting with typographical designer, Lisa Kirkham, where we looked at fonts for the new Plasiter Press book and discussed some page layouts using the typeface as illustration - this was all great fun. Then the next day, she helped me tackle all those nitty gritty matters pertaining to publishing: giving a new book an ISBN, adding that book to the Nielsen data base, dealing with orders from Gardners and Bertrams, updating the accounts and VAT records and finally filing the annual company return. This left me in need of a stiff drink or cold swim but my work experience student was all fired up and wanting to carry on.
She belongs to a generation just stepping out into the world with enormous energy and huge talent - all just waiting to be tapped into... 

Sunday, 1 July 2012


Ten lords a-leaping from The Twelve Days of Christmas illustrated by Jane Ray

The lords weren't exactly 'a-leaping' last week as reform of the House of Lords got underway. But those who escaped on Wednesday to the All Party Writers Group Summer Drinks Reception and Celebration of 35 years of ALCS, hosted by Lord Dubs on the terrace at the House of Lords seemed to be enjoying themselves in the company of authors who were doing a bit of lobbying over sparkling wine, salmon sandwiches and strawberries and cream. Indeed, for a moment it did look as if there would be some 'a-leaping' again when Scottish Poet Laureate, Ron Butlin, stood up to recite a very fine ballad on 35 years of ALCS.