Three weeks of drawing

August so far has been a fairly relentless day-in-day-out grind of work. I’d like to say that being a writer is an exciting round of drinks parties and hanging out in coffee shops. Alas, the last few weeks are the reality – getting up at 6.00am, working all day, then stopping at about 6pm often without leaving the house, BECAUSE THERE’s SOOOOOO MUCH TO DOOOOOOOO (and nobody else it going to DOOOOO IT!) The British summer has been particularly rubbish this year, so not leaving the house has had some advantages – like not being rained on.

Most of the time I have been illustrating ahead of the the Frankfurt Book Fair in October. There is to be a ‘blad’ for Space Race. This is a printed promotional 16-page facsimile produced by my pubishers to demonstrate what the final book will look like. This is to help sell it to foreign publishers. I think it’ll probably have a couple of chapters in it, as well as quite a bit of finished artwork. It is the second half of the last sentence which has been the focus of the last few weeks. Artwork. Utterly enjoyable but utterly time consuming. Days of scribbling go by… and then more days… and then more… These are not blog-worthy days, to my mind, hence recent radio silence.Illustration from The Great Space Race

I have to admit it is a long time since I picked up paper, pencil and pen and just drew. Art school seems a long way off (20 years off, in fact!) and I have a strong my memory of a tutor telling me she didn’t really think illustration was for me. Mind you, a friend of mine was told by another member of the teaching staff that graphic design probably wasn’t for him either, with the soul destroying line: ‘Do you think you are on the right course, Richie?’ Luckily he took absolutely no notice, and went on to win several international prizes for his fabulous packaging work and is now a wild success in America.

Once the blad is complete, I hope to scan it in and post it here so you can see what the heck I’ve been doing for the last few weeks. I’ve included a tiny piece here, just to give you a taste. It’s a Land Rover with eight high-powered water cannon welded to it.


4 thoughts on “Three weeks of drawing

  1. Hi Joshua. I’ve finished your trilogy and I really enjoyed it. 1 question , were those photos taken of the crew members and Snave and such actors or were they real photos of random people? Thanks, Louis

    • Hi. Well now, the Guild is a secretive organization so I’ll have to give you something of a politician’s answer! I did reconstruct quite a bit of material from various sources, that much I can say. I know it sounds vague, but I don’t want to reveal too much of how the books were put together. Needless to say it was quite a complicated process to find all of the photographs for a story set 90 years ago. Most of the pictures are originals from the 1920s, but others were really hard to come by, so I was forced to improvise in places. I didn’t use actors, but I had to use one or two friends now and then to fill in the gaps… and I’ll leave you to guess which!

      Thanks so much for reading all three books and getting in touch – I’m really glad you enjoyed them. JM

  2. Whoa, big reply for 6 o’clock in the morning, thanks!

    It’s not very often that you get to ask the author of a book some questions, so get ready for a bombardment in the next few days. XD

    First, how do you pronounce Xu and Xi’s name

    Second, how did the merchant you met get ahold of the gyrolabe replica?

    And last, what age group is the Great Space Race intended for? I’m thoroughly looking forward to it.

    I really appreciate this, so thanks a lot.

    PS. Was General Pugachev (I’m not sure if I spelt it right)’s picture your friend?

    • Hi – yep, we writers have to get up early, or nothing gets done!

      Ok… your questions answered:

      1) Xu and Xi would be pronounced with an S – so Su and Si. This is like Xian (the ancient Chinese capital where the Terracotta Warriors are) which is pronounced Shee-arn.

      2) Not sure where the replica came from – he wasn’t keen to talk.

      3) The Great Space Race is for 9-12 year olds, but it is a cracking, good fun read. The trilogy was aimed at the same age group, but it is quite often put in the teenage section in bookshops, and I know quite of people in the 12-85 year olds age group who enjoyed reading it. The same thing could easily happen with my next book.

      4) Pugachev pic – I refer you to my earlier answer. However, If you want to read about other displaced Russian Generals running about Asia at the same sort of time, why no read the excellent book by Peter Hopkirk called ‘Setting the East Ablaze’, especially the chapter 9. There he gives an excellent short history of a terrifying fellow called Baron Ungern-Sternberg.


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