Briony May Smith is a children’s author and illustrator from Berkshire, England.
Imelda and the Goblin King is published by Flying Eye Books on 1st September. This book is an absolute delight!
Said the Mudwaffler…
‘Imelda & the Goblin King will wrap you up in enchantment and leave you feeling magical’
Briony’s distinctive illustration style has a way of pulling you in and keeping you transfixed; it’s very welcoming, like a warm fireplace or a cosy armchair. And what better thing to do while you’re there than read her wonderful story too?! It’s a match made in a fairytale, and one that will have fans of fairies and goblins on the edge of their seat, right to the wriggly end!
Beside a wood of whispering trees and enchanting groves, where a fairy queen and her fairy-folk dwell, lives Imelda. She spends her days playing in the woods with the fairies, learning of its secrets (beware the red berries!) and has the loveliest of times… until the day a great, big, nasty bully arrives… the GOBLIN KING! He’s the meanest of mean and does whatever he likes, proclaiming ‘Scarper you little imps! I am your new KING!’.
Time passes by and the fairy queen has an idea – if they invite him to the fairy solstice celebration, perhaps he will show his kinder side? But things don’t quite work out as the fairy queen had hoped…
…it seems the goblin king just cannot share. He gobbles the WHOLE feast, upsetting the fairy queen enough to call him ‘a greedy so and so’, and you can imagine how he reacts to that – yes, he grabs her and throws her in a cage!
The fairies desperate pleas to release her are ignored, and so together with Imelda, they cook up a plan to get the fairy queen back, giving the goblin king one last chance to be kind…
Briony’s lines and shading make for a style you wont forget. One look at the cover of Imelda and the Goblin King gives you a taster of things to come – the detail is immense! There’s the fairy queen, Imelda and the goblin king, and over 40 fairies and goblins to drool over… 40! I can’t imagine how many different characters feature in this book, including some really tiny fairies in all the nooks and crannies of the trees. On the page where the goblin king arrives (see above) just look at all the different expressions there, even a little rabbit is covering his eyes! On the very last page (the end page) is something brilliant, easily missed, but very humorous. I’ll leave that for you to discover!
The colours are bright throughout the book, with strong yellows, soft browns, light greens and touches of blue – the palette is perfectly woody!
The Mudwaffler loved this book and will be keeping a sharp eye out for the mean goblin king in his forest!
Now, it’s WAFFLE time! Briony May Smith joins us for a Q&A…
What inspired you to make Imelda and the Goblin King?
I always try to keep a few children’s book ideas on the back burner, and in my final year of university I was thinking of some new projects to do, and I knew I wanted to finish one children’s book before I shot off to Bologna. One evening I sketched a girl being carried off by some goblins and jotted down by the side of it, ‘Carried off by the Goblin King and his horde.’ That’s where it started, I liked the sound of him and sketched him a few times and drafted up lots of versions of the tale, until eventually it was whittled into ‘Imelda and the Goblin King.’ Mostly I wanted to create a narrative where the antagonist gets his comeuppance, served up by the protagonist too! And I wanted it to be a throwback to the darker folk and fairy tales, but one that children could enjoy (Maybe they’ll still find the goblin king a bit frightening!)
What are you currently working on (any sneak peek news!?)?
I’m not sure how much I can say! I’m working on a new picture book with Flying Eye Books, right now it’s in the very early stages! And some lovely children’s books with Walker Books, Usborne and Oxford University Press. You’ll have to wait until next year to find out more!
What is your favourite thing to draw?
Fairies! No but seriously… fairies. People, specifically, I love drawing figures! And I love folklore and mythology, which is a great theme to work a drawing of a figure into, especially because that then includes the natural world, forests, glades and old towns and castles. I love drawing animals but I’m more drawn in by a human(ish) character in books, animations and illustrations, so I tend to create illustrations that begin with drawing a figure.
Who (or what) are your influences?
Growing up I loved Disney and Dreamworks and all animations, and I loved reading Cicley Mary Barker’s ‘The Flower Fairies,’ which just fuelled my love of fairy creatures! I used to play with my little sister and brother and this meant all day long we were making up games and characters to pretend to be. My parents read us some great and quirky children’s books, like Graeme Base’s ‘The Eleventh Hour,’ which is really witty and has beautiful rhyme. And Lucy Cousin’s ‘Portley’s Hat,’ which still makes me laugh. I never really lost an interest in these, I read a huge amount as I grew up. I discovered the amazing world of folklore and legend and Golden Age illustrators. And mostly I realised that I love the outdoors and green space and this part of my nature sits nicely with the fairies that have also settled in my head.
Do you have any advice for illustrators/writers who are just starting out?
Draw all the time, and write when you can. The drawing side comes much more naturally to me, or at least I have to be in the mood to write! It also really works for me with picture books to write and draw at the same time, because your mind ends up filling the blanks as you sketch, and soon enough even if you’ve just drawn your protagonist smiling, some of your plot might have worked itself out in your head.
Also, if you’re in a rut and are struggling to find the inspiration to draw, go out and draw from life to get the pencil back on the page, and hopefully it will get you motivated to draw for yourself. Sometimes looking at too may amazing artists around you can really hold you back from trusting your own work.
What are three words that best describe you?
Rambler, chatterbox, daydreamer
What is your favourite colour?
Yellow! I sometimes have to stop myself using it so much.
If you could share a cuppa with anyone (alive or dead), anywhere, who would it be and where would you go?
There are too many people. In fact this has taken me the longest to answer! There are hundreds of artists and historical figures, but today I think my answer is Walt Disney. I think he must have been an impressive person and I’d like to meet him at Neuschwanstein Castle, I’d pitch him a story for a film as we look out at the Bavarian forest.
Swamp Hugs! Till the next time…