Sophie Tilley Interview

Sparkly Shoes and Picnic Parties CoverSophie Tilley is something of a creative force, combining working as an author, illustrator and designer. She’ll be showcasing her talents on World Book Day when she’ll be taking over the window of Booka Bookshop in Oswestry.

Sophie, your first book in a new series, Amelie and Nanette: Sparkly Shoes and Picnic Parties will be published in March by Bloomsbury Publishing. How would you describe the two heroines of the book?

As the rhyme goes they are unashamedly ” Sugar and spice and all things nice!” Two best friends and kindred spirits with big imaginations enjoying the innocence of childhood as it should be.

Their adventures seem very innocent and carefree. Where did you draw your inspiration for the story?

I think we live in a very complicated world and perhaps have forgotten to enjoy the simple things in life. Children are exposed to so many prejudicial external influences too early and I feel that sometimes this can stifle their own natural curiosity and innocence and their ability to play imaginatively and freely. The inspiration for my stories comes a lot from my own childhood where there was a great sense of freedom and creative play which I then encouraged with my own children, my boys and my daughter who Amelie is based on. These books are a little snippet of life, perhaps to the cynics out there through rose coloured spectacles, but if I could bottle that innocence of childhood as a perfume, what a sweet smell that would be !

We understand that your will be taking part in Bloomsbury Publishing’s ‘Illustrated Windows’ project and will be taking over the window of Booka Bookshop on World Book Day. Can you give us a sneak preview of what you have in mind?

Amelie and NanetteSomething like this image :)

How important do you feel independent bookshops are to the book industry?

I think they are hugely important and we should have one on every high street. I love the new concept book cafe shops. What a great combo for a social gathering……or just on your own. What can be better than a great Cappucino and a good read? Perfect!

As well as bring an author/illustrator, you’re also a designer. What do you design and what do you love most about the creative process?

My Designer/Maker work is very much part of my DNA. I was very fortunate to have had a wonderfully creative French mother who was a fantastic sewer/seamstress. She taught me so much and my passion for sewing/craft comes from her and the illustrating/writing/design side from my father who was a graphic designer and writer. My design work has been very exciting and diverse over the years, ranging from designing a range of sportswear for Wembley Stadium to producing two craft books on salt dough.

I have worked with product licensing companies developing soft toy characters and then ultimately working under my own label Sophie Tilley Designs producing a range of Wooden Doll Kits and Cloth Dolls which have sold all over the world. The problem I have is keeping up with the demand. However we are working on a new website at the moment and there are some exciting things planned for this year to move the business forward. I absolutely love this side of my work and inspiring creativity in others. It has been lovely to see what other people have created with the doll kits.

TilleywoodIs there a particular place which inspires you when you’re writing or working on your designs? A favourite view or somewhere you like to visit for inspiration?

My inspiration comes from many things, a walk down Columbia Road Flower Market and seeing all that colour and the smells, gorgeous! I guess most of my inspiration and creative thoughts comes from walking in the hills of Snowdonia. Being part of such a magnificent untarnished landscape that is so beautiful always gets my head buzzing. One gets a great sense of space and freedom and with that the creative juices start flowing.

Would you ever consider illustrating a book for another author or do you enjoy being responsible for the whole process yourself?

wooden doll kitsI have been the illustrator on the bestselling series “Princess Evie’s Ponies“for the last 4 years now. It is nice bringing another authors words/characters to life and creating their world but being able to do the whole process for your own book is even more satisfying.

As World Book Day approaches, do you have any advice about encouraging young readers?

Think of yourself as a little seedling like in Jack And The Beanstalk, each book you read is like a little droplet of water helping your mind grow. Books help you develop a greater vocabulary, help you to visualise, they can be inspirational and life changing!


a friend for little bearFinally, if you were to give a book to a child on World Book Day, which book (apart from one of your own) would you choose and why?

Yes a sweet little book called ” A Friend For Little Bear ” by Harry Horse. It is about a little bear who lives alone on a desert island and by chance fishes out a friend ( a wooden horse) from the water and is very pleased to have some company. However the little bear becomes very pre-occupied with collecting all manner of objects that come floating by that he thinks he needs and soon neglects and nearly loses his friend in the process. The lesson, friendship is more important than material things. This is a lovely tale for young and old to enjoy.

To find out more about Sophie’s World Book Day event at Booka Bookshop, please click here.
Click here to read more about Sophie Tilley Designs or visit Sophie Tilley Designs’ Facebook page.
To visit Bloomsbury Publishing’s homepage, click here.



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