10 Facts About Loretta Schauer

Find out more about children’s book author illustrator and Five Quills illustrator Loretta Schauer with these ten quick facts.

Facts about Loretta, lives in: London1. Lives in


2. Books published


3. Favourite book

Anything by Edward Gorey

4. Favourite fairy tale character

The Big Bad Wolf, he’s the best villain

5. Favourite type of cupcake

Vanilla with chocolate chips

6. Favourite thing to cook

cakesMassive cakes!

7. Favourite thing to do

Fossil hunting and beachcombing

8. Favourite game


9. Favourite place to draw

In the long grass on Hampstead Heath in London

10. Favourite author / illustrator

Mini Grey


Loretta's cakes, fossil hunting and her fossil collection


Edited by Janey Robinson




10 Facts About Jane Clarke

Find out more about children’s book author and Five Quills writer Jane Clarke with these ten quick facts.

Facts about Jane: She lives in Market Harborough, Leicestershire

1. Lives in

Market Harborough, Leicestershire

2. Writes

Picture books, chapter books, poetry and reading scheme books

3. Books published


4. Favourite book

The Wind in the Willows by Kenneth Grahame

5. Favourite fairy tale character

The Ugly Duckling

6. Favourite type of cupcakeFacts about Jane, favourite book: The Wind in the Willows © E.H. Shepard

Carrot cake with lots of swirly frosting

7. Favourite movie

The Good Dinosaur

8. Favourite thing to do

Picking up fossil sharks teeth on a palm-tree lined beach in Florida

9. Favourite stationery itemFacts about Jane, favourite film: The good dinosaur © Disney Pixar

HB school pencils, especially the yellow and black ones!

10. Jane’s creative mantra

Writing isn’t brain surgery, no-one gets hurt if you get it wrong.


Facts about Jane: she loves to collect fossils, particularly fossil sharks teethJane at desk with Sky and giant shark tooth gift under the lamp











Edited by Janey Robinson

Illustrator Q&A | Loretta Schauer

I usually start by creating the main characters for the story; it’s a bit like assembling a cast for a play or film.

Inspirational children’s book illustrator Loretta Schauer shares her approach and inspirations in bringing picture books to life through drawing, painting and digital collaging.


1. When did you start illustrating?

I started studying illustration seriously in about 2009, attending evening classes and workshops. I didn’t have any formal art training before that so it has been a steep learning curve, and I still have lots to learn.

2. How did you find your illustration style and has it changed over time?

I am still finding my style and it definitely changes over time, sometimes with a new project or idea. When I did my first book, I didn’t have anywhere to work, everything had to be done on a small scale. I came up with a way of drawing and painting individual elements, scanning them, and then collaging them together digitally. I wanted to explore using textures and other elements in my work; digital collaging worked really well for this and has definitely influenced how I work and my style. This way of working gives me a lot of freedom to experiment with how the final artwork looks, and I think it would be hard for me not to think in terms of collage now, even if the final outcomes of pieces look quite different.

3. What’s a typical day in your life as an illustrator and is there somewhere you like to illustrate?

I work at home so it’s often just me and the hamster all day working through whichever project I’m focusing on. Although I love the freedom of being my own timekeeper it can get to the point where I’m working so intensively that I don’t leave the flat for days at a time, I try to get out for a long run on Hampstead Heath at least a couple of times a week. Depending on what stage I’m at with a project, I try to take my work outside to a park or to the Heath if I can too – weather dependent of course!

4. What are the “can’t live without” items you use as an illustrator?

My 2mm mechanical pencil, a tube of Payne’s Grey watercolour (great for making textures and marks that can then be coloured digitally), and I guess my scanner and computer as I collage elements to create the final artwork.

5. When working on a new story, what’s the first thing you do?

I usually start by creating the main characters for the story; it’s a bit like assembling a cast for a play or film. I draw them in lots of different poses, showing a range of emotions and activities that they might encounter in the story.

6. How do you illustrate a story, do you have a process?

Usually a publisher will want you to establish the main characters first, then it’s a process of breaking the text into spreads and testing out how the story arc and page turns work best. At this stage I do rough pencil drawings to work out what’s going on in each spread and to experiment with different camera angles and with picking the right moment in the action to focus on. For a picture book an illustrator usually works on this stage with a designer or art director.

We make sure that the flow of text and image is easy to read and makes sense, and that there is a variety of full colour spreads, vignettes, and other visual devices throughout the book.

It’s important to make sure that the text and images work together to tell the story in the most effective way and there are usually several versions of roughs at this stage. After we’ve agreed on the layout and the content of each spread, I’ll begin working on the final colour artwork. Sometimes I do little colour thumbnails too to get an overall idea of the colour palette for the book and how colour can enhance the mood and atmosphere of the story.

7. What inspires your illustrations?

When I’m working on a commission I’m inspired by the story and characters in the text, but when I’m working on personal work or my own story ideas I tend to gravitate towards drawing animal characters, spooky kids or slightly darker characters and urban settings – I definitely like rooting for the underdog. I’ve been inspired by all sorts of things – nature, science, history – I’m a real history buff so I’d love to have a go at some historical non- fiction one day too.

8. How do you ensure that your drawings will appeal to young readers?

A key element to picture book illustration is the relationship between the characters. I like to keep my characters as expressive as possible and make sure their expressions and body language are clear to read. I also like to include little background details and extra background characters that have their own little stories or subplots going on.

9. How valuable is it for children to meet illustrators?

Children are always excited to find out about how I work and how the pictures get into the books. I like to encourage children to make up their own comics, stories and characters, and this can be a starting point for other areas of study. Discovering the creative process and communicating ideas through making pictures can really boost children’s confidence, whether they believe they are good at drawing or not.

10. What advice would you give to an aspiring illustrator?

Keep practicing, and keep looking at other picture books that are in the shops. There are no short-cuts, keep building your portfolio, perfecting your craft, and showing your work to as many people as you can. Listen to any feedback, and give yourself a couple of days to absorb it before you decide if you agree with it and can apply it to your work.

Edited by Janey Robinson

Author Q&A | Jane Clarke

Children still enjoy many of the same books, but publishing goes through fashions and stories have become faster-paced. As a writer you have to keep up!

Award winning children’s book author and Five Quills writer Jane Clarke shares her inspirations, her approach to writing picture books and engaging young readers.

Image: Jane with grandpuppy Dutch, her sons and their families © Kristen Jimenez

1. When did you start writing and what inspires you to write?

I started writing at the age of 40 when I was working in a school library. The first story I wrote was for a 6 year old who wanted a book about a princess, a rabbit and shopping and was upset that the library didn’t have one. These days, my family and pets past and present are most often the inspiration for what I write.

2. What’s a typical day in your writing life and is there somewhere you like to write?

My best time for writing is 9 am to around 2pm. After that I go for walk, along the canal or to a park, or into town. I jot down ideas in my notebook that accompanies me everywhere, but I like to sit at my desk to write.

3. You have been a library assistant and a teacher, has this helped you as a writer?

Being a library assistant made me think about being a writer, my dream was to have a book with my name on it in the school library. As part of my job, I read a lot of picture books aloud, which helped me develop a sense of what worked and what didn’t.

I taught history at high school and archaeology at university level which wasn’t a lot of help with the under 10s 🙂

4. Does your approach to writing change depending on the type of book you are writing?

Yes. I write picture books and phonic reading schemes by hand, using pencil and lots of scrap paper – most of which gets crumpled up and thrown in the bin. I only go onto the computer at the very end of the writing process. For longer chapter books, I make notes, but type straight onto a computer.

5. Do you write books for yourself, or do you write them with particular children in mind?

I write them for myself, though I keep in mind my sons when they were young, and my little granddaughters.

6. How do you keep younger readers hooked until the end with a story?

I think very hard about the page turns, and try to make them surprising or exciting. A good editor is a great help with this!

7. How do you ensure a picture book lends itself well to being read aloud?

I always read my texts out loud, even if it means I’m talking to myself.

8. Over the years have you seen a change in the types of books children enjoy?

Children still enjoy many of the same books, but publishing goes through fashions and stories have become faster-paced. As a writer you have to keep up!

9. Do you think it’s important for children to meet authors?

Yes, an author visit is a great way to inspire children to create their own stories and to encourage them to read and write.

10. What advice would you give to an aspiring writer?

Have fun writing your first draft, then get down to business and do loads of re-writes. If you’re writing for children, join the Society of Children’s Book Writers and Illustrators.

Edited by Janey Robinson