Kelly Canby is an award-winning, internationally published, illustrator and author of over two dozen books for children. Kelly was born in London, England, but has lived in Australia since the age of three. She says this is probably around the same age she started playing with pencils and crayons, and it was probably only a few years after that that she decided playing with pencils and crayons was something she wanted to do for the rest of her life. Kelly applies her quirky style to the pages of everything from picture books, to chapter books, to early reader books, to colouring books and beyond!
Today we’re talking to her about her new picture book, Timeless.
From the publisher:
Emit (whose parents turned back time to name him) is surrounded by busyness. Dad is too busy to read stories, Mum is too busy to play games and Emit’s brother and sister are simply too busy doing nothing to do anything, at all. Emit tries everything he can think of to get more time, he tries to catch it, wait for it, but it’s not until Emit tries to buy some time that he learns the secret …
Did you already have a stack of time-themed puns just begging to be turned into this book? Or did the idea for the book send you off in search of puns?
The idea for the book came first and that then sent me down into a deep, deep, pun dive. In the end I had so many puns and idioms I couldn’t use them all! A couple of favourites that didn’t make it to the final book were Emit’s street address: 5 Oak Lock Lane, and a part where Emit told his family he’d like to be a time traveller when he grew up only they ‘didn’t think there was much future in it …’ Also there was a part in the first draft where Emit sticky taped two toy ducks together to create … A time pair o’ ducks. Genius ideas, I think, but in the end they didn’t suit the story so I had to leave them out.
What is your relationship with time? (Are you usually running out of it or always ‘on time’?)
I am that person who is always horribly … early! For appointments especially. And often times 30 or 40 minutes early too because I’m so afraid of being late. But it’s not always a bad thing because it gives me some thinking time in the car, or a chance to get familiar with where I need to be, or have a cup of tea, or reply to emails or ALL of those things. It’s amazing what I can squeeze into that half hour!
Your bright illustrations in Timeless almost seem to glow. Can you tell us about how you create your illustrations?
The brightness all comes from the inks. I chose the most vibrant colours I could find and then got my fan brush (a brush shaped like a fan, of course) and splattered and flicked ink all over the page until it started to look like how I saw it in my head. I wanted the illustrations to have a lot of energy and movement, to echo how busy everyone was, and the fan brush was perfect for that. I didn’t mind at all if ink fell in odd places either because I thought it added to the chaos of being so busy. I also didn’t sketch any of the illustrations with pencil first, I just went straight in and created havoc! That’s right, this book is one great big happy accident!
Do you have a tip for kids who would like to write/illustrate their own picture book?
I definitely have a tip for illustrating and that is to not be afraid of the blank page. Ever! The important thing is to get down on that paper whatever is in your head and when you’re done, when its down, then you can edit or add to it or … throw it out if you wish! But just get something down. Usually I find not thinking about my work too much takes the pressure off and as a result my work looks alive and fresh and full of energy. Actually, that advice works for writing too.
Can you tell us a bit about what you’re working on next?
Right now I am trying to come up with a new idea for a picture book AND I’m working on illustrations for the fifth book in Jaclyn Moriarty’s Kingdoms & Empires series. One of those things is much harder than the other and I’ll leave you to guess which one it is (Hint: it’s the one where were I have to come up with a new idea) !!
Timeless is out now! Ask for it at your favourite bookshop or local library.
Take a sneak peek inside Timeless
Download free activity sheets from the publisher’s website
Visit Kelly Canby’s website for more about her and her books