Interview: Katrin Dreiling Winner HarperCollins Illustrator Showcase Award

I caught up with Katrin Dreiling the day after she received an illustration portfolio mentorship award with Lisa Berryman at HarperCollins.

Katrin with HaperCollin’s Lisa Berryman

Katrin with HaperCollin’s Lisa Berryman

How are you Katrin, you looked completely overwhelmed when hearing your name on the night.

I felt surprised, stunned and speechless at the time. But I do remember very clearly the cheering in the room, it was a beautiful feeling of community, I feel very grateful.

If you could have prepared a speech, what would you have included?

I would have thanked SCBWI and Lisa Berryman and the judges for their support. I would have thanked my friends and colleagues for their never-ending support. And I would have thanked my family and especially my husband for their support and last but not least, I would have loved to thank the printroomeditions’ Jon and Stella who printed my Portfolio.

What was your favourite moment of the conference (apart from the portfolio win):

I had so much fun with my room mate (aww, thanks Katrin) and I loved the words of wisdom from Essie White who said that “You can’t force education on kids, you have to engage them.”

I also loved the entertainment of the 3-minute book launces at the Children’s Bookshop at Beecroft and the Pitch Perfect sessions at the conference as it showed how subjective feedback is at any stage of someone’s career.

Thank you Katrin!

by Yvonne Mes


Masterclass: E How to Hook and Keep Your Reader with Humour with Mira Reisberg

At Mira Reisberg’s keynote presentation at the beginning of the SCBWI Conference 2019 she said a lot of things that were not only true but also inspirational but one piece of advice stuck with me especially – always read picture books (or any kidlit book really) twice. The first time for pleasure and the second time for analysis. When you do this you will discover quickly what works and why.

Images of Mira’s Keynote presentation courtesy of Liz Anelli

Images of Mira’s Keynote presentation courtesy of Liz Anelli

A fantastic example for this is humour in picture books or middle grade. Fun and humour, if delivered well, will always make a manuscript better. In her masterclass Mira firstly separated the audience in picture books and MA analysists of humour.

Techniques considered to help induce humour to your writing (or illustrating) are:

- Anthromorphism (eg. A friendly duck doctor)

- Personification

- Dark humour

- Self-deprecating humour

- Irony/ sarcasm

- Hyperbole/ exaggeration

- Contradiction

- Incongruity or surrealism (talking fridge)

- Slapstick/ physical humour (slipping on a banana peel)

- Gross/ potty humour

- Contrast characters

- Parody

- Joke telling

- Mashups

- Surprise/ defiant humour

- Wordplay

- Visual humour

For full details on Mira’s presentation and a copy of the slideshow, click on this link, here.

Attendants were then asked to join an exercise by coming up with or using one of their own texts paragraphs and include the word “no!” as much as possible as an example of exaggerated humour.

Kids love when something they are faced with on a daily basis is incorporated and played with in texts. It hooks them in. The results were fascinating – loveable silly and funny texts that gave the original text a whole different, humorous approach.

Mira Masterclass.jpg

The next group exercise was a fun play with fear. Attendants were asked to take an everyday stressful or fear-inducing event for kids and change the characters into Halloween genre characters. This character then had to tackle a fearful event and form a story of less than 500 words which showed the consequences, aftermath or celebration of this event, even including an end with a fun twist. This exercise was supported with a worksheet that introduced certain elements with the help of columns in a very structured way.

As an illustrator, I really enjoyed the exercise for introducing visual humour to a graphic novel excerpt. I chose contradiction as means to add humour and came up with the character of “King Ivan Important” – a tiny king who wants to be as significant as his big wife, the queen. In order to achieve this he buys himself a very long-legged horse and appears quite big now. Very much to the dismay of the queen who starts plotting against him. The play of contradiction between power and tiny body size could be very appealing in a children’s story. (Indeed! Can’t wait to see / read this one, Katrin. Ed.)

Mira's Masterclass Katrin.jpg

Attendants left this brilliant masterclass with a suitcase full of new ideas and worksheet material as well as Mira’s detailed slides.

by Katrin Dreiling