Guest Post: My Experience of Working With Illustrators, by Nik Perring

Apr 29 2014

Collaborating with Kirsty for the cover of The Flash Mob was a nerve-wracking experience. Would we like it? We absolutely LOVED it, but what if we hadn’t? I’ve known Kirsty for twenty-five years and it would have been heart-breaking to say, ‘sorry mate, hating your work’. Obviously, I needn’t have worried as Kirsty’s designed stuff for me before – most notably the Juneathon and Janathon banners and logos, so I knew we were in safe hands. It made me wonder about other authors collaborating with illustrators/designers though and so when Nik Perring said he was available for guest blogging, I thought, aha! I know what he can talk about. And so here he is, talking about collaborating with illustrators on his books.


Hello. My name is Nik Perring and I write books. On April 7th my latest, Beautiful Words, was released. Beautiful Words is my fourth book and what’s a little unusual is that it, and each one preceding it, is illustrated. Yep, every one of my books, one for children and three for adults, have been illustrated but all in very different styles. And it wasn’t simply the styles that differed, the way I worked with the illustrators differed too, and the lovely and talented Cathy (we’ve been in a book together) has asked me to talk a bit about them.beautiful-words-nik-perring

My first was a small children’s novel where Jack, a young boy, time travelled to different eras in history (coincidentally, to places that feature on the national curriculum for history) and those illustrations are pretty straight forward cartoons. Thinking back to 2006, when it was published, my publishers asked for a general idea of what I wanted, which I gave, and then largely left it to Derry, the illustrator. My publishers would email what he’d done and asked for my thoughts on it, which were, mostly: that’s great! I don’t think I spoke with Derry once during the whole process.Roman

My next, Not So Perfect, was a collection of short stories for adults. And again I trusted my publishers with the illustrations and cover. I was encouraged to make suggestions but my publisher, the wonderful Roastbooks, pride themselves on making the books they publish as beautiful as objects as they are good to read. So again I trusted them to get it right, which they definitely did. I LOVE the illustrations in that book an awful lot. I seem to remember only asking for one, perhaps two, to be slightly altered out of the twenty-two.

The third was a completely different experience. I co-wrote the book, another collection of short stories dealing with people with strange super powers, with a fellow author and the illustrations were provided by the very talented comic book illustrator (and author) Darren Craske, only this time the illustrations were done before the book was submitted to The Friday Project/HarperCollins. So that meant that we had a lot more input and basically told Darren (sorry mate!) what we wanted. There was plenty of discussion and direction and a fair few times when we had to start from scratch. There’s even a strip in there that I wrote the script for – that’s how much direction poor old Darren got. But the results, I think, are brilliant.freaks

And now, here I am, on book four – a picture book for adults about beautiful words and the story of Lucy, Alexander, and Lily. It’s another Roastbook so the experience was pretty similar to that of Not So Perfect in that, basically, I provided the words and trusted them to find the right illustrator for it. And in Miranda Sofroniou they found a gem. Seeing how she’d interpreted my words was a wonderful thing – the illustrations are stunning (in my very biased opinion) and I think they’re that good because I didn’t have any input, because I didn’t tell anyone what I wanted, and because Miranda was trusted to interpret them however she thought best. And I think that’s a really important point: illustrators are people too (something that I think can easily get forgotten), and as such they have their own minds and their own ways of seeing the world and I think it’s no bad thing, in the right circumstances, to trust them to do their job. It is what they do, after all. And putting together a book is a collaboration.ineludible

The most important thing is getting the finished product to be as good as it possibly could be and I think it doesn’t matter, too much, how we arrive at that. Trusting good people to do good work is definitely a very good start.

Nik Perring is a short story writer and author from the UK. His stories have been published in many fine places both in the UK and abroad, in print and online. They’ve been used on High School distance learning courses in the US, printed on fliers, and recorded for radio. Nik is the author of the children’s book, I Met a Roman Last Night, What Did You Do? (EPS, 2006); the short story collection, Not So Perfect (Roastbooks 2010); and he’s the co-author of Freaks! (The Friday Project/HarperCollins, 2012). His online home is and he’s on Twitter as @nikperring

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Wreck This Journal – Day 23 – Figure Out How To Freeze This Page

Apr 22 2014

Blimey, freeze a page? How am I going to do that? Take it to the North Pole? Pour liquid nitrogen on it?


I pondered this and pondered this and pondered this and… oh, hang on. I didn’t ponder it at all, I just bunged it in the freezer on top of the pumpkin and mozzarella ravioli (£2.49 from Maidstone Morrisons).


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Wreck This Journal – Day 22 – This Page Is a Sign – What Do You Want It To Say?

Mar 19 2014


There was only one possible thing for a sign to say today.



If, however, you have been moved by all these attention-seeking selfiers (is that a word? Probably not. Ho hum) who probably got so lost in the ‘OMG, LOOK AT ME, I’M SO BRAVE FOR POSTING A PIC OF ME WITHOUT ANY MAKE UP ON’ ‘DON’T BE SILLY, HUN, YOU’RE GAWJUS’ stuff, they forgot to donate, and want to donate to charity yourself, you can choose a charity that doesn’t test on animals from this list.

I’m an over-40 female. It’s my prerogative to be grumpy.

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Wreck This Journal – Day 21 – Collect Dead Bugs Here

Mar 18 2014


My friend Claire and I used to collect woodlice and take them to the pub. That was a couple (okay, about twenty-five) of years ago though and my bug collecting days are over. Plus it says dead bugs and although I think my house in London has approximately two-hundred-and-thirty-million dead wasps in the attic, I’m not about to make a 120 mile round trip to get them and I’m not about to go into the garden and start squishing things, either.

So I drew some happy spiders instead. I think they’re happy anyway. They could be crying inside, I suppose but let’s pretend they’re happy.


A couple have only seven legs, to give it some realism. Convincing, huh?

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Wreck This Journal–Day 20 – sdrawkcaB etirW

Mar 17 2014


I got very bored very quickly writing backwards, so I decided to just write words where the letters looked the same backwards as the right way up but I could only think of w, o, I and l (and ‘n’ if you cheat and leave off the spiky bit), and writing ‘wool’ once was enough excitement for one day.


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Wreck This Journal – Day 19 – Take This Book In The Shower With You

Mar 16 2014


You’ll have to excuse the splodge from the apple and chocolate parcel – I used the book as a saucer. I don’t usually put pastry based products on my books, honest.


It doesn’t actually say the shower has to be on, plus it had a paddle in the sea a week ago and I’m not sure it’d take another soaking.

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Wreck This Journal – Day 18 – Pick Up The Journal Without Using Your Hands

Mar 15 2014

I said to Shaun, ‘you’ll have to take a photo of me doing it’, but he said as I’m not using my hands, I can take my own photo.



So, I picked up the journal with my feet and took a photo.



Do you like my slippers? £4.99 from Tesco. Bargain.

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Wreck This Journal – Day 17 – Glue In A Photo Of Yourself You Dislike And Deface

Mar 14 2014

It didn’t take long to decide which photo to use. I didn’t even have to think about it.


Although, I don’t actually dislike it, as it sums up perfectly how I felt during the London Duathlon last year. I was cold, wet, bored, fed up and thoroughly pissed off. But as potential photos to post on a dating site go, this probably wouldn’t be one of them. Would you take this girl home to meet your mum?

So, I printed off the photo and stuck it in the book.


And gave myself a smiley face instead of my i’m-really-pissed-off-can-we-go-to-the-pub-now-please face.


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Wreck This Journal – Day 16 – This Book Belongs To

Mar 13 2014

The page chosen today instructed me to write my name in different ways. I managed to mess this up and write on the wrong line, so I added arrows to indicate which line it was supposed to be on. Duh.



I got to play with MS Paint though and scrub out my address and phone no. Good old MS Paint. Not the most exciting page, I must admit. Helen had to sell the page she chose today, which I was quite jealous of, as I’d seen that on a flick through and decided when it came to it, I’d put it on eBay, but she’s beaten me to it. Stole my photo and all. Shocking behaviour, I might unfriend her on Facebook. That’ll teach her.

If you’d like to buy Helen’s page though, it’s here: and all the money will go to charity and there’s even free postage. She is a good person.

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Wreck This Journal – Day 15 – Draw Lines While In Motion On the Bus, On A Train, While Walking

Mar 12 2014


The only outside activity I’m going to be doing today is going to the spin class at the local gym, which I can walk to. I briefly thought about doing today’s journal activity in the class but soon remembered I’m not a complete weirdo, so I wrote in the journal while walking round the house.


My handwriting isn’t much worse while writing on the move than it is when I’m stationary, really. And I used to have such nice handwriting, too.

If you really want to know what it says, it’s:

lines are a bit boring so I’m going to write stuff while I walk round the house instead although I’m not really sure what to write but writing and words are just lines on a page anyway, aren’t they? My hand is starting to ache a bit now so I think I’m going to stop walking and writing and go and make my lunch. bye bye Smile

Deep, man.

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