Laura Wall takes a gander at Goose
Published on: 30 September 2014 Author: Laura Wall
Children's author and illustrator Laura Wall talks about the birth of her beloved Goose, who has starred in a series of beautiful picture books.
Goose was originally written as part of my final year project at university. The project set was to write and illustrate a children', and thus Goose was born, I have no idea why a Goose was the first thing that came to me though, but I'm pleased he did! From the very early stages you can see the friendship between Goose and Sophie in these simple illustrations and from the offset once I had my characters I knew it was all about this very simple, uncomplicated and endearing friendship.
The task in my mind was so broad that I lost my way with it and started over-complicating ideas and illustrations. In frustration I went to my tutor who said, 'draw the first thing that comes to your head' he made me realise that I wasn't cheating by doing something simple and that simple illustrations can have more impact.
For me, Goose is all about seeing life from a child's point of view. I was blessed to have a wonderful and colourful childhood and many of my memories are as vibrant now as they were when they happened. I even remember thinking that I must remember as an adult how a child thinks, because to me adults over-complicated things and didn't know the most important question you must always ask yourself – are you happy?
As you read the books you may notice that some things are left white, generally only the things that are important to Sophie are coloured. Also you never see Mum – this is possibly inspired from my love of Tom and Jerry, but also from the fact that this is all about Sophie's world. Also I have the most vivid memory of my Mum's glamorous collection of brightly coloured shoes – oh how I loved them! I remember being able to hear her shoes before I saw her and thinking that I couldn't wait to wear some myself. This is undoubtedly where the first scene comes from – Sophie dressing up and playing with her dolls is based on understanding that love of dressing up. I had a sister to play with – but what happens if you are an only child? Enter Goose.
This is the bit that I like the reader to wonder about. Goose could be Sophie's imaginary friend, or he could be real. Either way it is Goose that enables Sophie to make friends, learn to share friends, and tackle everyday situations like going to school. I never wanted these stories to preach, but I wanted some topics for kids that their parents can develop with their children if there were issues they wanted to explore. One thing that is certain about Goose though; he's a boy!
It took several years for me to finally get Goose published after my degree. In 2010 I plucked up the courage to take Goose to the London Book Fair to see if anyone would be interested. As luck would have it, that year a volcano erupted in Iceland preventing so many people from attending the fair. It's a wonderful thing to find a bored publisher!
I talked and enthused about my characters, grabbed business cards and names with both hands and yet went home quite dismal that not one of them wanted to take on Goose there and then. I have to mention here that had my partner not been with me practically kicking me into each stand that I may not have seen a third of the publishers I had planned on meeting.
A year went by and in this year I developed my series Love at the Seaside. I put Goose on the back burner and focused on galleries, exhibitions and mural work. It was the following year when I received THE phone call. I was actually up a scissor lift at the time painting a mural 9 meters in the air. Goose was going to be published and a series to boot! I couldn't have been happier if I'd won the lottery.
I hope you like Goose and Sophie. They are very special to me and if you ever get to see any of my Love At The Seaside series you'll find that Goose didn't really go on the back-burner. Because he appears somewhere in every picture.