Working Together Blog by Gillian Cross

Posted on Tuesday, February 22, 2022
Category: Book Blog

Working Together Blog by Gillian Cross

How do a writer and an artist tell a story together? This blog by Gillian Cross explains how she and Alan Snow co-authored their latest book, Ollie Spark and the Accidental Adventure.

Read a chapter extract from Ollie Spark and the Accidental Adventure

How do a writer and an artist tell a story together? Until recently, that always baffled me. I love books where the words and pictures work together, weaving in and out of each other and the idea of writing one was exciting. But I couldn't imagine working that closely with an artist. You'd have to know each other very well, I thought.

And then Alan Snow was asked for a book like that. And he suggested me as co-author.

We didn't know each other at all. We'd never even met. And we were in the middle of a Covid lockdown. But as soon as we spoke on the phone, I knew it was going to work.

"What are you thinking?" said Alan. "That you'll write a story for me to illustrate?"

"No," I said. "We're doing this together."

And we did. I actually wrote all the words and Alan actually drew all the pictures, but the story came from what we discussed together. I think it was Alan's idea to make Ollie good with machines. I think the smog and the wind turbines were my idea. But it's hard to know now. I wrote a bit. And we talked. Then I wrote some more and Alan started drawing the characters.

I don't know much about machines, so I sent frantic emails (Alan, can Ollie do this with the quad bike engine??) and got fast, helpful answers (Yes, but it would take at least three days. Try this instead.)

Alan drew roughs of the characters and we talked about how the pictures and words would fit together. It was the most fun I've ever had writing a book. And as we were finishing, Alan said something about a street food festival - and we were off again, on Book Two.

But that's another story...

Gillian Cross introduces Ollie Spark and the Accidental Adventure: