Sue Hendra Interview

Brighton based author/illustrator Sue Hendra has worked on over 70 books. As well as illustrating books for other authors, she has also created the Wanda and the Alien books. The much-loved characters can now be seen in an animated series, broadcast on Milkshake (Channel 5). Sue’s latest book, Dragon Jelly sees her continuing her collaboration with Claire Freedman, following the success of Spider Sandwiches.

Growing up, which illustrators inspired your work?
Roger Hargreaves inspired me, I loved the Mr Men. Mr Silly was my favourite- It’s pretty surreal stuff. I loved looking for all the little jokes and details in Richard Scarry’s books too.

We understand that you studied illustration at university. What was your first job after graduating and how easy was it to get started in your career?
Bloomsbury Books came to see my degree show, they left a note in my comments book- I was thrilled to bits!  So apart from a stint at Asda on the checkout my first job after graduating was illustrating a book for Bloomsbury Books. It was called ‘The Sun Is A Bright Star‘ by Ken Wilson-Max.

How do you create your illustrations? Do you favour drawing by hand or do you work with computers?
Both. I make my books with my partner Paul Linnet. We sketch everything out by hand and sometimes incorporate hand drawn lines into our illustrations. The end product is created on our computers.

Have any of your characters jumped off the page as you were creating them or is it generally a slower creative process?
Oh no they really do! That’s how you know you’ve got a character right, because you can see it come to life and have a personality. I’ve recently had the thrill of seeing my characters Wanda and her friend the Alien come to life. The pair are now walking and talking in their very own television series for Channel 5 Milkshake.

As well as working as an illustrator, you’re also the author/illustrator of several books, including Barry The Fish With Fingers. What prompted you to begin writing?
Making children laugh, making Paul laugh, but mostly amusing myself.

What inspired your illustrations for Dragon Jelly, your new collaboration with Claire ‘Aliens Love Underpants’ Freedman?
The utterly disgusting subject matter of these books has been our inspiration- Thank you Claire Freedman! Paul and I have, and continue to have a ball illustrating them. We are a couple of big kids and have loved drawing all that yucky stuff.

What does your typical working day involve?
Quite a lot of talking with Paul about how to approach different illustrations or parts of stories we’re working on. Lots of time sitting at our computers drawing and listening to comedy, music or stories.

You’re visiting Bognor Library on October 18th, helping staff at the library to celebrate its fiftieth birthday. Will you be treating library visitors to a reading from Dragon Jelly?
I’d love to! I’m going to take some craft materials and get everyone to make Max’s favourite snack- Spiders!

Can we look forward to seeing you at any other events in the coming months or will you be busy working on your next book?
I shall be at the Book Nook in Brighton on the 29th Oct at 2pm and I’m sure to have my pipe cleaners and pom poms with me.

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