Being chased by tigers

After a fruitful telephone call with my (genius) art director Ben yesterday, I am now in possession of the Space Race To Do List and a PDF of the book as it stands. Phew! The new ground is cut, so we are entering the final stages.

This is the first time I’ve seen the novel in its entirety with illustrations and text together. Ben and I are very excited, and it certainly looks different.

Although I’ve never been chased by a tiger or any other large wild animal, the feeling I have now is, I imagine, like that first risky glance back after a spectacular sprint through the jungle to see if you’re safe or not. A lot of the physical symptoms are similar – exhaustion, some stiffness in the legs and a not inconsiderable dose of adrenaline still running through m’ veins – but who said this would be easy?

It’s funny, but seldom does anyone ever say what a very lonely and fearful business being a writer can be. Lots of uncharted jungle. Lots of tigers. So next time you’re in a bookshop, remember all those poor authors who have run blindly through the undergrowth to bring you… well… robot monkey armies in this instance.

I have completed all of the really difficult illustrations and much of what is left is polishing, adjusting and tidying up. The list is 4 sides of A4, but I know it is just a matter of getting up early and sticking at it.

For those who want a bit more detail about The List, the complex technical bit is that all the text must be black, or shades of black, so that foreign publishers can remove it at the printing stage and replace it with their own translations. This sounds simple enough, but this occupies a fair chunk of what I have to do. It’s my own fault because I got carried away in places.

Running too fast to escape those tigers. Growl, growl.

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Invasion Beaches of Normandy

Just back from a short three day holiday to Normandy, France. Lots of lovely food, shopping, and a quick tour of the 1944 invasion beaches… and catching up on much needed sleep.

I’ve posted up some snaps of some of the more dramatic locations visited. These do give the impression that all we* did was tour German bunkers and beaches! Not so! Pre-Christmas shopping and long meals at the superb restaurants of Bayeux took up quite a high proportion of the trip, but these, alas, don’t make such exciting pictures.

We stayed at the Lion d’Or, where photographs of previous guests crowd bar. These mugshots are an incredible record of the famous: everyone from British royalty to Tom Hanks and Steven Spielberg have stayed there (or are Hanks and Spielberg Hollywood royalty, therefore the same thing?) They all seem to be grinning like mad for some reason. Perhaps they’d tried the excellent grub in the restaurant.

The battlefield sites were of course very moving, made more so by it being Armistice Day last Wednesday when we were there. There’s certainly lots to see over there for history fans.

Next week I launch the final offensive on the Space Race illustration. Yikes! I’m sure the holiday will quickly become a distant memory.

*we = me and the future Mrs Mowll.

Boating

I’ve been working away on Space Race illustration for the last couple of weeks. I’m very near the end now, and all’s going really well (I think!). Up at 5.15am most mornings in the dash for the finish line. Really pleased with it all, and will upload some more bits and pieces soon.

In the meantime, I thought I’d post a short movie clip taken by me a couple of years back of my boat. I was motoring up from Salcombe, Devon, England to Kingsbridge to have a haircut. This was shot early in the early morning of an utterly beautiful day… but in a flat calm, so I was running on the outboard engine (I have oars, but it was a long, long, long way to row). She’s a Walker Tideway 12, about 45 years old, and has a clinker wooden hull with gunter-type sailing rig. She’s lovely to sail, especially single-handed. Not fast, but there again she’s not likely to tip you out in a sudden squall.