Three years ago, when I sat down to write Delilah Dusticle, I had no idea I would publish the story, let alone write sequels. I excitedly asked my friend, Anna, a journalist to cast her eye over the text. She proofread the story and gave me huge encouragement to publish. So I did, on Amazon. I then researched how to let people know that my little story was out there. I contacted book blogs asking them to read and review my story. To my surprise, they replied saying, “yes please”. They also encouraged me, by saying they hoped for a sequel. The main critique I got was that there were no illustrations and they wished it could have been longer.
That is when I roped in my partner in life, Gavin to create some illustrations. I was very lucky to be living with an artist and his style fits the middle grade genre so well. I then set about to write the sequel and that story ended up being over twice as long. I felt much more confident and the ideas for the story just came in waves. It bought me a huge amount of joy and I giggled throughout the writing stage.
Fortunately for me, Gavin enjoyed creating the illustrations just as much. With each book we collaborate on, the more detailed and exciting his illustrations become. The first story for us both was a learning curve, and I feel that all the books we have produced since show huge progression.
We both work on the books in our spare time. Gavin, works as a design teacher and in the past has worked as a set designer too. He has even designed for a BBC children’s programme called Playbus. Currently, he teaches label design, film making, animation, comic books design and so on. He is using the animated book trailers he has created as examples in his lessons. There is nothing like showing your students that you can actually do the things that you are teaching.
Right now, we are working on getting the illustrations finished for Delilah Dusticle and the Cursed Tempest. The book has now been proofread and I am formatting it for publishing. It is an exciting time! Here is a glimpse of what is come. I hope you like it.
You can see Gavin’s other illustrations, set designs, book trailers and photography on www.gavinchilds.com
A.J. York is a middle grade and children's writer. Author of Delilah Dusticle, Eliza Bluebell and A Fairy Extraordinary Christmas Story. A.J York has a Swedish and British background and currently lives in Gothenburg, Sweden.