Today, we spoke with "Harry Hairylegs' Day In" author Colin Winn about what drew him to writing a children's book, what he hopes children will take away from it, and what's next for him!
You can check out Colin's book here!
1). What drew you to writing a children’s book?
I first contemplated writing a children’s book in the year 2000. My children were growing up, the eldest just reaching his teenage years and we had been spoiled by living rurally in Shropshire for about ten years, with its abundance of all creatures great and small to observe, at leisure, with fields all around. We read stories to the children at night time when they were younger of course, but now at 14, 12 and 10 years of age respectively, they'd begun to choose their own favourite genres of reading. They had become much more autonomous.
As an illustrator myself, I admired many of their illustrated books (which it seems most are) but my own style tends to be highly representational, in some cases almost photographic and I'd been able to use it in my magazine-design, publishing and advertising career up to that time. It was very commercial/industrial art, if you like.
I had always wanted to see if I could adapt my art to the styles which children found appealing. For “Harry Hairylegs’ Day In”, I laid out some storyboard sketches of the scenes thinking they might be good enough if properly lined in and coloured up. But I decided they probably wouldn’t suffice. It would have to wait . . . I hadn’t anticipated 20 years would go by before I was in a position to pay those storyboards some attention again!
2). What would you hope young children are able to learn from reading “Harry Hairylegs’ Day In”?
I think it would sound too pretentious to say the content of the book held anything deep and meaningful; but in the same breath, with the story out in the wide world, you might on reflection think it displays what is quite possibly Mankind’s basic desire for an uninterrupted and peaceful existence.
However, it does at the same time show that through no fault of his own, he finds himself subject to a little harrassed, being chased and bothered by others and their activities - which I am sure happens all the time to us humans?
But pleasingly, Harry seems resourceful enough to be able, without confrontation, to side-step what comes his way and in a spidery-nomadic kind of way finds safe harbour where he is able . . . until the next unnecessary annoyance!
3). As someone who has penned a children’s book, how important do you believe reading to be in the life of a young person?
I think reading is incredibly important to children. Reading is as elemental to children as learning to walk, ride a bicycle or swim. It’s an ‘enabler’. "The pen is mightier than the sword", as the saying goes. It sets them up to receive messages from around the world and make decisions accordingly. Society is run by the written word in Law form. Without an ability to translate this into meaning and intent, those unable to read can be at a huge disadvantage.
4). You mention that singing and digital recording are primary hobbies of yours, so writing is certainly not your only creative inclination. How has music played a part in your life?
Thanks for asking! I have been - and still am a vocalist. A voice artist. It was another ‘enabler’ when I was myself a callow youth - something that allowed the ‘Performer' in me to emerge. Rightly or wrongly I was encouraged as a child to please others, with myself, second. Singing, drawing and painting rewarded me personally with a little bit of kudos - gave me pleasure - and I hoped my ‘warbling' might do that for an audience. Although I really wasn’t any good until I reached my early twenties when I began to become competent! 'Learning the craft', I think they call it! And anyway, there’s ALWAYS room for improvement!
5). If we may ask, what is next for you, writing-wise?
I have the idea for “Harry's Second Book”! Given the first is called “Harry Hairylegs’ Day In”, you may be able to figure what book No. 2 might be called?? Yes in Book One, Harry entered the house, got chased around it and found that he may well have been better off staying in the tree outside he had been in . . . had it not been for that pesky storm which blew up and forced him indoors.
And so he made his way outside again . . . therefore, without giving any state secrets away, I would like to see “Harry Hairylegs’ Day Out” come to fruition. With the same illustrator hopefully, as I thought they did an stupendously good job interpreting my storyboards and bringing the scenes to life!
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