Hornbeam Hollow – The Creation of my New Series
It must be at least ten years since I first began to play with the idea of creating my own range of books, greetings cards and homeware products revolving around a particular tale. A tale, or maybe more appropriately a “tail” that all started whilst spending some time out in an ancient woodland.
I used to work as a conservation volunteer, which over time led to a job as a park ranger, a reserve warden and a nature reserve manager.
During my lunch breaks, if not too busy I’d take a walk around the nature reserve to see what wildlife I could spot. Usually, I’d come across woodpeckers, squirrels and the occasional fox or deer and even some aquatic life such as very large carp and wildfowl as this particular location is also home to a large expanse of very deep water.
One particular day I walked the parameter of the bluebell-filled ancient woodland – woodland which has, in the past been worked and is home to wonderful flora and fauna. I was walking through the old hornbeam coppice when I spotted a little mouse running around in the undergrowth. I threw him a little bit of bread and he scuttled off into a “Hornbeam Hollow” and with just his head poking out I could see his beady eyes watching me. I happened to have my camera with me on that day, so here is a photo of the little mouse that lived in the hollow of a coppiced hornbeam which inspired the name of my new series.
After this event, again, in my lunch break I’d make some sketches and play around with some ideas of the setting and the characters who lived there, but I never really had enough time to fully concentrate on the idea thanks to a large amount of work to complete and whilst this aspect has still not changed I have realigned my working priorities slightly to allow for a little more time to develop the idea. Back then I’d never illustrated anything for anyone – so I had to really work on developing my skill-set too.
Jump forward some years, in early 2018 I began to research the name “Hornbeam Hollow” to make sure that it was not in use – which it wasn’t, so I applied for the name to be Trademarked and after several months of waiting I am now the proud owner of the name, and so the work to bring my creations to life in the world of “Hornbeam Hollow” can begin.
Hornbeam Hollow is a place where nature and mythology coexist happily together. Some of the characters you may already be familiar with from my other work, but they will now all be refined and become part of something larger.
This will be a long and complex task, but the aim is to launch a series of picture books that appeal to children and adults and they will feature characters that have been inspired by British wildlife as well as the folklore and mythology that adorns the British Countryside. Traditional customs and a strong focus on the changing seasons and the celebrations that come with them will also feature heavily – so you can expect lots of autumn, Halloween and Christmas paintings! As well as books, I will be creating more “Hornbeam Hollow” branded cards and giftware too.
I will be staying away from the modern digital way of creating artwork – it’s just not my thing, and all of my illustrations will be painted by hand. This will be a long process, but I’d imagine that some of the first Hornbeam Hollow Greetings Cards will be produced and ready within 12-18 months.
Join me on the Adventure of Publishing a Children’s Book
Please note, I have since discontinued the Patreon support page - but the books are going ahead and due out in 2019!
I don’t want this idea to be a flash in the pan, and will be working tirelessly to make it a success, although I fully appreciate that the journey will be a long one, and, with that said, I’d like to invite any of my fans to become part of the process and here is how…
Other than the occasional promotional type news and posts, I won’t be making any of the behind the scenes type work publicly available – there will be no public videos, live streams, Instagram updates or Facebook updates – the only way to follow the process will be via my Patron page.
Being a freelance illustrator is not easy and although I plan on completing this adventure regardless, it would be fantastic to have the support of some of my fans, and for some of you to join in the journey and see the process from start to finish – see the new characters be created from scratch, find out the storylines and see the products before anyone else.
So that you have the choice to be part of the adventure and add your own input, I have teamed up with Patreon – a subscription type service that allows you to choose a package that suits your needs and you will benefit from rewards going forward. The site uses dollars and not pounds, so any pledges will work out cheaper in pounds sterling. For those who choose to select the “premium” subscriber will eventually receive a signed first edition of the book and a greetings card each time a new one is released!
I want Hornbeam Hollow to be one of those classic children’s books that adults love too – so I’m going to put a lot of effort into this over the coming months and years and I dearly hope that you’d consider being part of the journey.