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Jane McGuinness

As a child

<p> I was born in Glasgow; a big city, but a green one. I loved my walk to school as it was lined with tall trees that made the city feel like a forest, especially on summer mornings when the sun shone dappled through the leaves. During the holidays (and sometimes after dentist's appointments) my mum would take me and my sister to Kelvingrove Park, where we'd feed the squirrels monkey-nuts before going to the Museum to look at dinosaurs and art. On rainy days – and it rains a lot in Scotland – I loved to watch animated films, read and draw (I still do all these things a lot). I always liked the idea of being an author, but didn't realize for a long time that you were allowed to both write the words and draw the pictures if you wanted to!</p> <p>When I was ten, I moved to a small seaside town near Edinburgh, where we'd go with our two terriers for long walks on the beach. The walks were shorter in winter, as it gets so cold there – but it was still beautiful, as the sea looks different every single day. I'm going to live by the sea again, someday.</p>

As an adult

<p>When I grew up, I came to live in England – Birmingham, another big city! It's got a lot of trees too, and I like it because there are so many different people, cultures and things to see in one place. I've been to University twice, and loved it both times; any place where people are learning and making things is a place worth being. My BA in Illustration at the University for the Creative Arts in Maidstone helped me learn how richly drawings could tell stories – it was there where I rediscovered picture books, and there that I realized that I love words as much as I love pictures. </p> <p>After a few years working in a bookshop back in Birmingham, I still dreamed of making books of my own, so I applied for the Masters degree in Children's Book Illustration at Cambridge School of Art, where I worked hard, made a lot of friends and became a more confident artist. At the end of my MA, I was invited to come and meet the team at Walker – now I'm doing what I feel like I'm meant to do for a living, and it's everything I hoped it would be!</p>

As an author-illustrator

<p> When I'm writing a story or working on ideas, I scrawl things on bits of paper at home, or in other places when I think of them suddenly; then I'll go to a café with a notebook and my laptop to put it all together over a cup of tea or coffee. When it comes to making artwork, I'll have one day where I create a lot of messy marks, squiggles and half-pictures with ink and paint (either in my kitchen or a studio space I share with friends), then I'll scan all those pieces in and work into them using my computer later on (over a large number of cups of tea or coffee).</p> <p>Going and looking at things is also really important – museums and art exhibitions, people, cities and the countryside are all great sources of inspiration, but sometimes the most unexpected moment will spark an idea or a story. My first picture book, Say Hi to Hedgehogs!, started when I spontaneously painted an inky hedgehog in my sketchbook one day; I knew right away that there was something special about him.</p>

Ten things you didn’t know about Jane McGuinness

  1. I live in Bournville in Birmingham, around the corner from a chocolate factory. When I go out for a walk, I can smell the chocolate!
  2. Although I'm from Scotland, my accent isn't strong; some people know where I'm from right away, others have to guess a few times.
  3. I love old novels, and modern poetry.
  4. Whether it's live indie-punk or 1950s pop playing in my kitchen, music is an essential part of life for me. I feel strange if I go too long without singing along to something.
  5. I like things that are spooky without being too scary: like old castle ruins, or cakes shaped like ghosts.
  6. My Shetland Sheepdog, Comet, keeps me company while I work. He's smart and adorable, but can be as much a distraction as a help sometimes!
  7. I love to eat raspberries and wood-fired buffalo mozzarella pizza (not at the same time).
  8. Trees make any place more appealing to me. I like to try and spot birds in their branches, or nap under them in the park in summer.
  9. I am terrible at choosing favourites. Whenever I try to make a top-five list of favourite books, food or songs, I find myself thinking about how all the things I like are good in different ways.
  10. I am quite good at cooking but very bad at gardening (even though I love gardens).

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