Kid Lit Talk: Ian Eagleton and Clara Anganuzzi on 'Violet's Tempest'

by Lantana Publishing on September 09, 2021

It's the book birthday of Violet's Tempest, a gentle and moving story for anyone whose voice has been silenced by their fears and anxieties. We asked author Ian Eagleton and illustrator Clara Anganuzzi to share some stories behind the book. Read on for some great insights from this amazing creative team!

Ian: Hi Clara! I hope you’re keeping well! I can’t believe Violet’s Tempest has finally been released!

For my first question, I wondered if you could tell me what drew you to this book and what inspired your gorgeous illustrations?

Clara: Hello! Hope you've managed to find time to enjoy the sunshine recently!

I'm so excited for everyone to meet Violet and her family!

There were two main things that instantly drew me into this book; the imagery you created with your text (in particular the links between emotions and moods to nature, I thought this was very impactful and moving), and the relationship between Nan and Violet. I loved the support that Violet had but also allowing her to find confidence within herself. Nan has such a comforting presence and I had an instant picture in my mind of what I really wanted to capture in that bond between the two.

What was your inspiration for such a beautiful story?

Ian: Thank you so much! There’s an illustration, just before Violet goes on stage and she’s surrounded by a tumultuous wave, that captures this connection between her emotions and nature so beautifully! The inspiration for this story was definitely my own Nan. She died suddenly just a few months before I started writing it so my own relationship with her was in my mind. I used to be a member of a youth drama group when I was much younger and she would sit at the kitchen table and help me learn my lines. We’d have so much fun! I wanted to capture her loving, warm presence in my life and also wanted to write something that would celebrate and honour her life. There were other things that inspired the story – like studying The Tempest as a teenager in school – but the bond between a Nan and her grandchildren was the most important.

I’ve talked a bit about my own childhood memories and wondered what your first memories of drawing and illustrating and art were?

Clara: That's such a moving and special way to capture your memories of her!

Looking back I can't remember a time I wasn't drawing. We still have so many boxes filling up my parents’ storage full of my doodles. I remember my dad used to bring home old tax machine papers from work for me to scribble on because I kept finishing all the paper in the house. He once drew out shapes of different sea animals for me to paint in, when I finished that I went round the back of the house and decided our pet tortoises needed a glam up and painted them an array of purples and blues. There was no stopping me from painting or drawing! I feel very lucky that I get to do it every day and call myself an illustrator.

How do you find the process of working with an illustrator, in terms of your initial vision for the book and the final product?

Ian: It’s been so exciting working with you – I actually worked on Violet’s Tempest before my other book, Nen and the Lonely Fisherman, even though Nen is out now! So, Violet’s Tempest was technically my first picture book. At first I was really unsure about my role in the process. I thought I had to tell you what I’d want drawn on each page and how I’d want the characters to look like and so on! But Holly Tonks, our lovely editor, reassured me that it was best to let you work freely, without much input, and I was so amazed at the outcome. So, I suppose I was initially very nervous and worried and then as soon as I saw the rough illustrations I felt great! You’ve managed to capture the warmth and love in all the relationships, which was my main concern, and I’m thrilled. I think it will always be difficult to let a manuscript go and hand it over, but this process has been a wonderful and gentle reminder to me to trust people and put my faith and trust in all the illustrators I’m working with, so thank you!

What was the hardest thing about illustrating Violet’s Tempest? Was there a particular spread that was especially difficult to create?

Clara: Ah I’m so glad you felt that way when you saw the illustrations! And that kind of ties in with my answer to this question as there wasn’t really a spread that I found particularly difficult, but it was my first project that involved a lot of human characters. At the start, I was also nervous that I wouldn’t capture the relationships between the characters or be able to really show visually how they were feeling in that moment. I practiced a lot in my sketchbooks and tried to really ‘get to know’ the characters/how they would respond to situations and body language. When it came to the finals I found that each spread I did I gained a little more confidence and feel like I’ve learnt so much from it!

In Violet’s Tempest, you touched on the themes of anxiety/stage fright, shyness and overcoming your fears, looking forward are there any other themes you would like to address in upcoming books?

Ian: There’s definitely more themes I’d like to explore, especially in a school setting and with some links to more Shakespeare plays. I’ve been thinking a lot about jealousy recently and playground arguments and friendships and how this very real and important issue might link in with Othello. I’ve also been thinking about Violet and her family and if there’s any more scope for returning to their world again and deepening our understanding of their relationships. But one step at a time! I’m just thrilled we have got to go on this adventure together with everyone at Lantana and am so excited for everyone to meet Violet – it’s the first story I wrote so it has a very special place in my heart and I just hope everyone loves it as much as we do!

Thank you, Ian and Clara, for sharing these wonderful stories of inspiration behind Violet's Tempest

See more from this gorgeous book when you watch the book trailer below!


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Ian is an education consultant and primary school teacher. He is also the founder of The Reading Realm, a popular educational app for teachers. Learn more about Ian and his work on Twitter, Instagram or Facebook.



Originally from the Seychelles, Clara studied Illustration at Falmouth University before completing an MA in Children’s Illustration at the prestigious Cambridge School of Art. Follow her on Twitter, Instagram or Facebook to see more of her stunning work.



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