Welcome to my latest blog piece which is part of a blog tour for Duncan Beedie’s latest book, published with Templar.
Duncan Beedie is no stranger to my blog having shared his books The Last Chip and Molly’s Moon Mission previously. His latest book Oof Makes an Ouch! is set in the Stone Age and is a fun and entertaining read with themes of friendship, jealousy and forgiveness.
Amongst the rather splendid, expressive illustrations you have a story of two friends Pib and Oof. They do everything together and between them hardly know any words. Oof however is inspired to create new words, one of them being “Ouch.” It causes quite a stir amongst their tribe and it leads to Pib feeling rather jealous. Will Pib and Oof be the best of friends again? Can Pib find the right words to explain how he wants to make things better?
This would be a wonderful book to use in a learning setting alongside further discussions about how best to deal with feelings of jealousy and questioning what a positive friendship is.
The setting of the story may also inspire some lovely work on looking at how different the past was today also, including the many words that we have now accumulated.
As part of the blog tour I am delighted to have been able to interview Duncan Beedie.
Welcome Duncan. A huge congratulations on your book Oof Make and Ouch!
It’s been a strange few months because of lockdown, how have you and your family been?
It’s all been very odd hasn’t it. We’ve been doing alright throughout lockdown. I had plenty of work lined up this spring before it all kicked off, so I’ve been busy – which is a blessing. We did attempt a degree of homeschooling with my daughter, but her academia was complimented with a healthy dose of media studies (ie. TV and Nintendo). The weirdest part has been not keeping track of what month it is, let alone day.
You are a freelance illustrator, do you have a studio/office at home? How has your experience been of working during lockdown?
I would normally work from a large studio in Bristol where I rent a desk, but for the first three months of lockdown I was based at home. Space is limited in our wee house, so I was working standing with my smaller drawing tablet set on the kitchen worktop. It was nice to look at the garden and see the birds on the feeder by the window, but my back still hasn’t forgiven me. I’m back in the studio now and I am the only one there in a two storey unit, so I’m managing the social distancing pretty well.
Your new book includes characters Oof and Pib who are from an ancient tribe. How did this idea come to be?
It nearly didn’t come to fruition at all. As usual, I was staring out of the window, desperately trying to think of an idea for a story, with a pile of scribbled out notes and doodles next to me. For some reason I then started thinking of cavemen. To this day I don’t know why. In my initial sketches the main characters were adults, and Oof bore an uncanny resemblance to Big Jim Hickory from ‘The Lumberjack’s Beard’. The story evolved over the redrafting process and we now have the boy and girl characters as Oof and Pib.
Your previous books have had characters that are animals but this one not. Do you have a preference on what you draw? I know some illustrators much prefer drawing animals.
I don’t really dwell on whether my characters are animals or human too much. It boils down to whatever fits the story. Obviously the animals in my books are anthropomorphised to the point of essentially being small, furry humans. Also, when I first drew up the idea of my first ‘human’ character – Jim Hickory the lumberjack – I envisaged him as a big bear like character. So, human or animal, they’re all very interchangeable. However, for ‘Oof Makes An Ouch!’ it was important for them to be human due to the late neanderthal setting.
The book explores new words that Pib and Oof learn. Would you describe yourself as a logophile?
I literally just had to Google ‘logophile’, so I think that answers your question to a degree. As a children’s author, I do love words and love coming up with new ones – the sillier the better. However, they can also be a real pain. There are only so many words for ‘said’ that you can reuse.
Have you ever been in a situation where you’ve used the wrong word?
Yes. It was the fault of auto correct when emailing my editor. It’s far too rude to recount here. She and my book designer are the only two people who are aware of this error. Incidentally, ‘Oof Makes An Ouch!’ is dedicated to them.
Could you talk us through your process from idea to complete illustration? Do you sketch digitally?
I do most of my artwork digitally, but my early sketches are always doodled on whatever paper or sketchbook I have lying around. I used to work in animation, so I have a very convoluted process of drawing using animation software then adding more texture and shading in Photoshop. There is probably a far more succinct way of doing it, but it works for me.
My girls and I are big fans of your work. Your book The Last Chip for example, has encouraged so much discussion between us all and we really feel for the pigeon in the book. Have you got a favourite character from all the books you have created?
Thanks. You waited until the penultimate question before you went full ‘Sophie’s Choice’. It’s tough to pick a favourite, because at the time of writing each story, that character I’m focusing on at that time is the most important. Between you and me (and everyone else who reads this) I am currently working on a new story featuring Bear from ‘The Bear Who Stared’. He seems to be a popular character and that book has done well for me internationally. I do like writing for his character, as he is a well meaning, earnest fellow who can’t help making the odd mistake – he’s relatable.
And finally when you’re not working on picture books what do you enjoy doing?
I genuinely can’t remember. In a way, lockdown has made me acutely aware of the simple pleasures in life: walking my dog, watching TV, getting beaten by my daughter on Mario Kart (that’s a relatively new development). If I didn’t have picture books to write or illustrate throughout this time, it would have been much more challenging. I’m grateful for that.
I do hope you’ve enjoyed my addition to the blog tour. Do keep your eyes peeled as I’ll be hosting a giveaway later today.
If you’ve missed any of the stops on the blog tours never fear, information is here:
Disclaimer: I was provided with a copy of the book from the publishers. All words and opinions are my own. This post contains affiliate links.