Sally Gardner trained at art college and went on to work in the theatre, winning awards for her costume designs for some notable productions. After her twin daughters and her son were born, she started to illustrate children's books, and then turned to writing. She lives in North London.
Lydia Corry is a British illustrator based in Brighton who graduated from the Royal College of Art in 2009. Her dynamic and rich illustrations are all painted by hand in a mixture of watercolour, ink and gouache. She is the illustrator of Eight Princesses and the Magic Mirror (Zephyr) by Natasha Farrant and co-creator of The Tindims of Rubbish Island with Sally Gardner.
The Tindims series, Zephyr
The Tindims Of Rubbish Island by Sally Gardner And Lydia Corry was the first in a series for younger readers that introduces us to the Tindims who, a little like The Borrowers, find new ways to use old rubbish. The Tindims live at sea, however, and the problem they face is the amount of rubbish they now find, especially old plastic bottles.
The Tindims of Rubbish Island has been followed by two more books: The Tindims and the Turtle Tangle and The Tindims and the Ten Green Bottles. SALLY GARDNER and LYDIA CORRY tell us more:
1. What inspired the idea for The Tindims of Rubbish Island?
We had both been thinking about the rubbish that is washed up on Hastings beach - there is far too much of it . It was Lydia's idea to tackle this in a story. We both wanted to do something for younger children with a gentle conservation message.
2. Why did you decide to work as a mother / daughter partnership on the book?
We never set out to work together, but secretly we both hoped it would happen one day. And this project is ideal, as we both feel passionate about conservation. I knew that Lydia would bring this to life in a unique and original way.
3. Can you tell us a little about the first book?
The first book is an introduction to the Tindims and to Rubbish island. The Tindims have a problem; Bottle Mountain is so tall that they can't see where they are going. And because of that, they have steered the island into a snowstorm, which is not a good idea when they need to be somewhere sunny for the Brightsea Festival.
4. How did you come about their name, the Tindims?
Shortly after deciding on this project, I woke up one Saturday morning and, before I had made the coffee, the name 'Tindim' came to me. Lydia and I both thought it perfect.
5. How did the main group of characters, and how they look, develop?
That has been such fun. I do believe good character names find you when you start looking for them. We spent a lot of time throwing names back at one another and deciding that most should be non-binary.
Once we had the names, Lydia began to draw, and her drawings were inspirational for the first story. We are fortunate that as an author / illustrator team we are able to share ideas and sketchbooks between us.
6. The illustrations bring the island to life - what did you enjoy most about illustrating the project?
Finding the style that would make the characters stand out. Once I had that, the island came easily. I liked doing the map so that I knew where everyone was, as well as the houses they live in.
It is an interesting challenge to make black-and-white drawings on a small format exciting. I enjoyed very much working with Jessie, the designer, on this.
7. Do you have a favourite section in the story / illustrations?
My favourite part is the Brightsea Festival and the last picture in the book I find very moving. Lydia's favourite part is Spokes' engine room. And we both enjoyed working out the map of the island. Once it was there, we felt the story was grounded then in a sense of place.
8. The Tindims have an amazing island, and homes - whose would you like to visit?
I love Granny Gull's house on top of Bottle Mountain. Also, being rather lazy, I like the idea of the cable car taking me down and bringing me back up the mountain again.
Lydia's favourite house is the Fish Hospital. Which makes a lot of sense as she used to have an aquarium with pufferfish which need a lot of looking after.
9. Was it difficult to get a balance between the seriousness of the problem - the amount plastic that is polluting our oceans - and keeping young readers entertained?
I think the main thing we both wanted to do was to create a good story with good characters that would entertain and might make little people think about the rubbish that is thrown away.
I really feel it's important to say that this is our problem, We, the Long Legs, should have taken better care of this planet than we have done. What a terrible gift to give to our children - the mess that we have made of things and are still making.
10. The Tindims love to roam around the seas. Where are you planning to take them next?
At the moment there are four books, including The Tindims of Rubbish Island, The Tindims and the Turtle Tangle, The Tindims and the Ten Green Bottles, and then The Tindims and the Floating Moon to come in June.
11. What has been your favourite escape from writing / illustrating during lockdown?
We are beyond lucky that we both live by the sea and have been able to go out walking on the shore with our dogs. I have enjoyed spending time on Rubbish Island too, a destination reached by a flight of stairs to my office.