Monkey • Robot • Cowboy • Hero

Today I finished the last illustration for The Great Space Race.

There will be changes, no doubt, and fine adjustments, but every page exists and – dare I say it – every gap now has an illustration in it. Breathe out slowly… and relax.

What a crazy year 2009 turned out to be – I remember thinking it would be relatively easy to create the artwork for Space Race after the trickiness of the Guild Trilogy. Two months’ work, I thought to myself. Simple! I had always rated the airship illustration for Operation Storm City as the benchmark of torment in my career as an illustrator (all those cables and frames in perspective!), but The Great Space Race beat it by a country mile. Several country miles with a few country kilometers lumped in, for good measure.

All those 5.30am starts have produced a satisfying result, I believe… I hope… I pray! The book now begins to slip away from me and begin its own journey – first of all to the final edit, then to the printers, and finally to the bookshops in August. My creative involvement is almost at an end. Sending that final piece of artwork is certainly a moment of divergence, if not outright departure. A parting of the ways. New horizons beckon and new stories are waiting to be told (in a big heap of scribbled notes beside my keyboard).

After such an intensive slog, there is an upside, and this is it. Days like today. An undeniable happy-making moment. It is like the silence after turning off VERY LOUD MUSIC. My desk, so long a battleground of to-do lists, script edits and tricky problems to solve is now unusually clear. I keep looking over it thinking there must be something to do. There isn’t.

But back to loud music. I wasn’t entirely idle over the Christmas break, and managed to record several tracks for an album I’m putting together for The Great Space Race. It’s going to be called ‘Monkey•Robot•Cowboy•Hero’ (artwork above).

Why? Well the narrator of The Great Space Race is a character called Ace. He is in a band with his best friend Jake, so I thought it would be great if readers of the book can hear Jake and Ace’s music. Why not?

The plan is to post these tracks on web as extra background material for the book. I have therefore been playing lots of very loud guitar, which is a wonderful antedote to all that quiet illustrating of the last few months. Jimi Hendrix eat your heart out. I’ll post a link here as soon as it is mixed down and sounding good.

Oh… and I managed to have a long overdue haircut, just in time for the really cold weather.

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