Illustration Friday: Ruckus Dancing in the lounge room with Caitlene, to “Shut Up and Dance”, after watching this video:

Edited to add: By request, the image is also up on Redbubble as a print and shirt design.


  • Miss Pym Disposes – Josephine Tey: I was expecting a murder mystery, but this is a psychological musing, a novel of when-will-someone-murder rather than a murder investigation. The gentlest, sweetest novel of a soft-hearted person looking back on youth and high spirits ever to bear traces of Picnic at Hanging Rock and Primal Fear.
  • [a forthcoming novel]
  • And be a Villain – Rex Stout: Still loving them.
  • The Shortest Way to Hades – Sarah Caudwell: These books are the reason for my recent Gorey obsession.
  • The Sirens Sang of Murder – Sarah Caudwell: Alex Adsett pressed these books upon me and they are absolutely charming. Witty and knowing, a healthy dash of PG Wodehouse, and full of lawyerly in-jokes and asides (Alex had annotated her copies). A rather charming approach to assumptions about the behaviours of the genders, flawed lively young barristers, convoluted mysteries with convenient classical connotations… just fun.
  • Shadows – Robin McKinley: A different note for McKinley, simultaneously much more modern-YA and much more Diana Wynne Jones. Lovely, charming shadows. Also exceptionally lifelike dogs. And a sheep. This was also courtesy of Alex (I made her read Dorothy Sayers).
  • The Sibyl in Her Grave – Sarah Caudwell: Best. Cover. Ever. Also, another approach to how-to-deal-with-time-in-an-episodic-series, similar in this case to Rex Stout. We last left the chambers at 62 New Square reeling from Cantrip’s recent enthusiasm for the telex machine. Now, they are using computers. Yet no-one seems to have aged, at least in their own estimation, or that of that most energy-efficient, self-satisfied and mysterious of narrators, Professor Hilary Tamar.
Edward Gorey cover for The Sibyl in Her Grave

Edward Gorey cover for The Sibyl in Her Grave


  • Kingsman: No.
  • Jupiter Rising: Yesss.




Illustration Friday: Reflection

In some other universe, Agatha Christie’s Ariadne Oliver lived, and her crime novels were illustrated by Edward Gorey.

Materials: Pen, ink, and a crash diet of Gorey-covered Sarah Caudwell novels.

The title is, of course, from Alfred, Lord Tennyson’s “The Lady of Shalott”, which also provided the title for Christie’s novel The Mirror Crack’d from Side to Side, and two previous Illustration Friday mock covers:

Illustration Friday: Adrift

Illustration Friday: Drifting

Black-Winged Angels cover

I’m a huge fan of Angela Slatter‘s work (which just keeps getting better and seriously, you should read The Bitterwood Bible and Other Recountings and put it on all the award lists, and of Angela, so I was thrilled to illustrate Black-Winged Angels,  Ticonderoga Publications’ limited edition of some of her earlier dark fairy tales.

Angela had seen some illustrations I was working on for an art show, and asked if several of these could be illustrations for the stories in this collection. We discussed the others and I put together very rough digital sketches.

Black-Winged Angels sketches

I then sketched the final pieces loosely on the back of some black paper and cut them out. Silhouettes don’t have quite as many stages as other art styles.

This is for “Light as Mist, Heavy as Hope,” a story of lost parents and Rumpelstiltskin-bargains:

Light as Mist, Heavy as Hope

“Bone Mother”, a Baba Yaga tale:

Bone Mother

And “The Girl with No Hands”, whom I gave hands in the original paper piece, because I could only bear to cut them off digitally (painlessly, reversibly):

The Girl With No Hands

Altogether, I made 16 illustrations for this book, but I’m not posting the rest until it’s sold out!

Illustration Friday: Sleep

A self-portrait.

Also: A reminder that Angela Slatter’s collections Sourdough and The Bitterwood Bible (and a bag with my art) are being offered as part of a giveaway on Goodreads (Australia only).

The final cover for Cranky Ladies of History (from Fablecroft) has been revealed, and I have permission to share the cover process which, as is usually the case with cut-paper pieces, was quite short!

Here are the initial thumbnail sketches which I sent through to Fablecroft.

Cranky Ladies - cover thumbnails

Fablecroft decided to go with the silhouette style. I sketched it in pencil directly onto the back of a sheet of black paper (80gsm). Here are some shots,

Cranky Ladies cover in progress

Here is the final paper piece.

Cranky Ladies cover WIP

After scanning the silhouette in (and fixing a few small hiccups) I then tried several different layer effects in Photoshop Elements, added a shadow, and so forth.

Cranky Ladies - alternative colourways

I had fun mocking up cover quotes.

Cranky Ladies cover WIP


Fablecroft decided for the red version, which Amanda Rainey then laid out into the final cover design (this is the full hardback jacket).

Cranky Ladies - final hardcover jacket


Angela Slatter is offering a Goodreads giveaway (for Australia only). It finishes on 5 March 2015 and includes:

1 x hardcopy of Sourdough and Other Tales (now out of print and rather rare)

1 x hardcopy of The Bitterwood Bible and Other Recountings (illustrated by me)

1 x limited edition book-bag (also illustrated by me)


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