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Shirley Hughes and Clara Vulliamy: Webchat with mother and daughter / author and illustrator of Dixie O'Day In the Fast Lane - Tuesday 17 September, 1-2pm

(91 Posts)
RachelMumsnet (MNHQ) Mon 16-Sep-13 11:31:02

To coincide with the publication of their first collaboration, we're delighted that author Shirley Hughes and her daughter, illustrator Clara Vulliamy will be joining us tomorrow lunchtime (Tuesday 17 September between 1 and 2pm) to answer your questions.

Shirley has written and illustrated more than 200 children's books and is one of the best-loved writers for children. She has won the Kate Greenaway Medal twice and has been awarded the OBE for her distinguished service to children's literature. In 2007, Dogger was voted the UK's favourite Kate Greenaway Medal-winning book of all time. Clara's much loved picture books include Lucky Wish Moue and Martha and the Bunny Brothers.

Their latest creation is the first in the new Dixie O'Day series. Dixie O'Day In the Fast Lane is a gorgeous book perfectly pitched at new readers, with a chapter for each night of the week as well as wonderful illustrations, maps, character introductions and even a Q&A with Dixie himself.

Join Clara and Shirley tomorrow at 1pm or post them a question in advance.

ClaraVulliamy Tue 17-Sep-13 13:47:31

FloraSunderfield

Hi Shirley and Clara,

Dixie O'Day is a beautiful book, I love it! I was wondering what inspired the character names in this story? Why did you name your main character Dixie?

Thank you!

Clara says, 'I love the name Lou-Ella, somebody pointed out that it sounded a little bit like Cruella as in de Vil - it hadn't occurred to us. Mum is brilliant at naming her characters, some of these names made me laugh out loud.'

NigelMolesworth Tue 17-Sep-13 13:47:55

No sensible, erudite question here I'm afraid, but just wanted to say that my daughters and I absolutely love the Alfie stories! The girls talk about Alfie and Annie Rosie as if they are friends who live next door. So thank you for wonderful stories!

We will look out for Dixie O'Day with anticipation!

ShirleyHughes Tue 17-Sep-13 13:48:18

penelope07

Hi Shirley and Clara,
I think Dixie O'Day is perfect for first readers. How did you both work out the story and divide it up between you - who would draw and who would write? plus who is the inspiration for the female character Louella?

I completely wrote the book on my own. Then when I'd finished the stories, and of course there will be many more, then I give it to Clara and we look at it together. That's when she puts her hugely imaginative input in.

NigelMolesworth Tue 17-Sep-13 13:48:57

And in fact, I like the books so much I have posted twice...blush

ShirleyHughes Tue 17-Sep-13 13:50:27

noidles

Hello Shirley and Clara, lovely to have you here. I have always loved your books.

I worked in the publishing industry for a number of years and actually had the great fortune to work on separate books by both of you - but never met you.

I suppose my question is a bit more mundane, and more about how the publishing industry has changed over the years. Has the way you've worked with publishers changed dramatically over the years? Is it better/worse?

I think it's absolutely great. I've had very good fortune with the editors and designers that we work with. The fact that some publishers used to be small, independent companies and now they've been bought by bigger firms doesn't matter. You're still working with the same experienced small team that you've been with all along.

ClaraVulliamy Tue 17-Sep-13 13:51:10

penelope07

Hi Shirley and Clara,
I think Dixie O'Day is perfect for first readers. How did you both work out the story and divide it up between you - who would draw and who would write? plus who is the inspiration for the female character Louella?

Clara says, 'I think of Lou-Ella as Penelope Pitstop but if she'd gone to the Dark Side. She drives a pink E-Type Jag and has a ruthless desire to win at all costs. I adored Wacky Races when I was small and often practise my Muttley snigger.'

ShirleyHughes Tue 17-Sep-13 13:51:11

NigelMolesworth

No sensible, erudite question here I'm afraid, but just wanted to say that my daughters and I absolutely love the Alfie stories! The girls talk about Alfie and Annie Rosie as if they are friends who live next door. So thank you for wonderful stories!

We will look out for Dixie O'Day with anticipation!

Thank you so much. I love to think that you're enjoying my books out there with your daughters!

Hi Shirley and Clara!

Shirley - firstly wanted to say thank you - your books have given me and DS so much pleasure (he loves the trifle scene in My Naughty Little Sister too!).

I seem to remember reading somewhere that you were thinking of setting an Alfie-esque book in a block of flats, to reflect the fact that the house in which Alfie lives in the original books would cost millions these days, and only be available to the very wealthy. Is this true? And have you done it - or will you?

OutragedFromLeeds Tue 17-Sep-13 13:56:48

Just wanted to say how much I LOVE your books Shirley. I'm another one who can't get through Dogger dry-eyed and am always in tears at the end of 'Annie Rose is my little sister' too! All so wonderfully written and illustrated. Thank you smile

ShirleyHughes Tue 17-Sep-13 13:57:35

TannithJones

Hi Shirley and Clara!

Congratulations on Dixie O'Day: In the Fast Lane

My little girl loves Lou Ella and wants to dress like her all the time. Do you both have a favourite character from the new book? Or is that like asking a parent to pick their favourite child?

Thanks!

Dixie's rather a portly figure. He's not exactly pompous, but he's more dignified… he thinks he is anyway! He wears a suit and a waistcoat and, of course, drives this very special car.

ClaraVulliamy Tue 17-Sep-13 13:59:32

TannithJones

Hi Shirley and Clara!

Congratulations on Dixie O'Day: In the Fast Lane

My little girl loves Lou Ella and wants to dress like her all the time. Do you both have a favourite character from the new book? Or is that like asking a parent to pick their favourite child?

Thanks!

Clara says, 'I have a soft spot for Percy. He is a nervy little chap, but a loyal pal to Dixie. In the next Dixie book, The Great Diamond Robbery, it is revealed that Percy is an expert ballroom dancer and has a secret penchant for celebrity magazines.'

ShirleyHughes Tue 17-Sep-13 14:01:17

rholo

I just wanted to thank Shirley for so many happy childhood memories of reading her books. Dogger was and still is one of my very favourite books. I am.enjoying reading your books to my daughter, especially the Alfie books. There is such warmth and detail in your illustrations. I love everybody gathered around the kitchen table at the end of Alfie Gets in First and the kitchen scene in Alfie's Feet.

My question is whether you think there's anything we can do to stop so many libraries being closed, given that this is where parents and children may first come across some of your books?

And thank you again for such fabulous books smile

This is a huge issue we have all joined together. Philip Pullman, myself and many other authors have pulled together to say 'don't close our libraries'! It's a terribly damaging thing to do. They're not just for borrowing books, but as a place you can go to sit in peace and quiet or to search for a job, revise for exams, the list is endless. We must keep the libraries.

ClaraVulliamy Tue 17-Sep-13 14:02:08

Isabeller

I look forward to reading the new collaboration it looks great on the link. I really loved your books as a child, Shirley.

Could you give an insight into how you create an illustration, Clara?

Clara says, 'I begin with a pencil drawing which I then scan and manipulate digitally to create that rich dark line. In the Dixie artwork the colours are added digitally too. We've had a lot of fun finding patterns and textures that enhance the drawing.'

RachelMumsnet (MNHQ) Tue 17-Sep-13 14:03:56

Shirley and Clara have to head off now. Thank you so much for joining us. We've so enjoyed the reminiscing (particularly happy so many remember the trifle stealing scene in MNLS). Best of luck with Dixie Day.

ClaraVulliamy Tue 17-Sep-13 14:05:41

Clara says, 'What fabulous questions! Thank you so much for joining us today. If you're interested come on over to www.dixieoday.com and find out more about our events and activities to try at home. Perhaps we'll see some of you at Cheltenham Festival. Thanks again, Clara'

mignonette Tue 17-Sep-13 15:39:47

Thank you so much both of you. This has been so enjoyable. I'm now off to buy more of your books for my imaginary grandchildren having already equipped my nieces/nephews w/ your books. I still have my original copies of MNLS by the way and am going to re read them along with Eve Garnetts books.

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