Wednesday, April 03, 2013

Rewarding Illustration

Disappointed about not being on the short list for the New Zealand Post Children's Book Awards? Of course I am. I would be a filthy liar if I said otherwise. I poured my heart and soul into the illustrations for David Hill's The Red Poppy. I started the project by declaring to myself that if this was the last book I did for any reason (death or disenchantment) that it would be one I'd be super proud of- that I could RIP on it. But it seems that this year trenches are not in vogue for picture books- although I am absolutely stoked that ' My Brother's War' a novel by David DID make the list- it's a superb read and at this point I extend my heartfelt (yes really) congrats to the shortlisted ones. It's a fantastic day for you and I HAVE been a judge before so I know the angsting that goes into the process and the certain knowledge that you will break the hearts of anyone who didn't make the cut. There are some really great books there and the judges have made really thoughtful choices. I also knew some weeks ago that I hadn't made the list (having been a judge I know how the notification goes) so it isn't a surprise to me today. 

So back to me and my obsession to be on the list- why? Well, the carrot on the award stick is sales. You get shortlisted, the book gets more publicity, people buy it, you get to fill the car with petrol/buy groceries for another day (you don't get to buy a Porsche because our sales figures in NZ are small because the population is small). It also makes you feel immensely validated  for your hard work I'm told (I have not been shortlisted for the Post Awards to date). You get metaphorically showered with petals on a sparkly podium. It's on the bucket list of people in this game. I guess I'll have to live another year- that's gotta be a good thing right? It's all put in to perspective for me by the blog of the lovely daughter of a friend  of mine who doesn't get to live another year. 

She has cancer and has 6 months to live. She is 19. Harriet is the bravest person I know and one of the most talented writers. She has a bucket list too. In 3 weeks she is going overseas with her family to visit the Anne Frank House in Amsterdam, to see the place of another girl who didn't make it her 20's but none the less left a remarkable impact on the world. I'm painting her portrait this weekend. I'm hoping it will be the best illustration I ever do. It doesn't need any award. I'm honoured enough.


maureen said...

There are stunning books out there that touch the heart of everyone who reads them but never win awards. You meet an award winner...but it is not the awards that come before them it is their warmth for humanity that shines through. In the end it is all about relationships. Writer to Reader...Person to Person... And you have both in spades!

Mary McCallum said...

Great post - and yes, seeing a vivacious young woman have to surrender her life like Harriet is does put things into perspective, FI. However, you feel as you do for good reasons - you gave your heart and soul and talent and the book is loved by many. It seems so unfair. My heart goes out to you.

Jane Bloomfield: truth is stranger than fiction said...

Commiserations Fifi. Your heart felt post says it all.

Nadine Millar said...

Linking up here from Melinda's blog, so glad for the pointer! Fifi your illustrations looks AMAZING; my daughter is a fiend for dog books, this one's going on my "to buy immediately" list. We aren't in NZ, so will have to bug the good people at the Children's Bookshop.

I'm sorry your book wasn't shortlisted, you must have been gutted :(

Wish you the best for this weekend and the road ahead supporting Harriet. I have just subscribed to her inspirational-looking blog.

AJ Ponder said...

Great post Fifi, and Red Poppy is such a beautiful did an amazing job.

It is little consolation, I know. But as you say, life can throw worse things at us - it is so terrible, cancer in the young. What a lovely thing you are doing painting a portrait for her family to remember her by.

Nadine Millar said...

Hi Fifi... so excited... guess what just turned up in the mail?!! A copy of The Red Poppy sent to us by Grandma! I hadn't even mentioned it to her, she just must have known somehow. And perfect timing too - we'll be up for the dawn service this Thursday and had really wanted to read The Red Poppy to the kids before then. Yay!