We are so excited to announce our newest upcoming picture book, Alienated by talented author/illustrator Sophie Shortland. We’ve asked Sophie to tell all of our readers a little bit more about Alienated.
Tell us about you
My name is Sophie Shortland and I am from Surrey in the south of England. I currently study Illustration at Norwich University of the Arts and during my free time I enjoy watching films, lounging around and of course writing and illustrating children’s books.
What is Alienated about?
‘Alienated’ is an illustrated children’s book that shines light on the subject of autism in children, in a playful and imaginative way. It dives into the mind of a child, to teach and inform a young audience about a tricky subject. Told through the eyes of an autistic boy, the audience learns about the abstract way in which he perceives the world.
Alienated is a children’s book focused around a serious subject matter that isn’t talked about enough. I hope my book can change the perception of autism and help people to empathise with sufferers.
Where did the idea for Alienated come from?
The idea for Alienated came from working in a children’s after school club. I would observe their behaviour and get them to draw for me at any opportunity. I noticed that a common theme in their drawings was aliens and monsters. Their work inspired mine as I began to develop a narrative around the idea of aliens. I wanted to touch upon a subject matter that hadn’t been very prevalent in children’s books: autism. I think children’s books are a great way to educate and inform children about the world around them. I hope my book educates children about autism or even helps autistic children understand their belonging in this world.
What is your favorite alien from the book and why?
My favourite alien from the book has to be the dad; I enjoyed his design and he was a lot of fun to draw.
How did you become an illustrator/author?
From an early age, I was obsessed with drawing and creating. Art was always my favourite class and my love for the subject lead me to do an Art Foundation after college where I first started illustrating books. We were given a lot of freedom on the course and were given a self-initiated project in which my goal was to make children’s books comparable to the ones that endlessly inspired me when I was a child. My outcome for this project was a rough version of Alienated. About a year after finishing my book, my Auntie sent me a message saying she had come across this submissions page on ThunderStone Books that were looking to publish children’s books that have an educational aspect which sounded perfect for Alienated so I sent it off and they liked it.
What are your favorite children’s books and why?
Roald Dahl, Dr. Seuss, Beatrix Potter – anything by these authors is pure gold. They seemed to have the formula for what makes a great children’s book. My Book shelves have been stacked with their work since I first could read. Their books possess a perfect balance of creativity and originality that separates their work from others. If I had to choose one book as my favourite it would be Dr.Seuss’ Cat in the Hat ; It is a timeless classic and there is nothing like it!
What advice would you give to young readers?
The best advice I can give to young readers is to not stop reading! I personally am dyslexic and struggled quite a lot with spelling and grammar as a child but I didn’t let it stop me from reading. My reading obsession helped me to create my own books and if you love it enough anyone can do it.
You can find Alienated in your local bookstore, coming August 1, 2018!