Where did you and Philip Reeve get the idea for Cakes in Space?
Philip was reading my blog and spotted a little painting I’d made on a postcard, of an astronaut and an alien and he thought, Hey, we should try a story with aliens! He’d already seen me draw organic matter – seaweed, fish, beach scenes – for Oliver and the Seawigs, and he thought it would be fun to see how I’d draw machinery and robots. He had the idea of a child wandering around in a spaceship, and then I came up with the idea of a malfunctioning food machine and mutant killer cakes. We sat in cafes and ate quite a lot of cakes together, in the name of research.
How did you create the illustrations?
I first sketched out the pictures in pencil. Then, using my lightbox, I traced over them with a quill dip pen and India ink. I scanned the black lines into my computer, then added the orange and grey colours in Photoshop.
What was one of the most interesting challenges of this book?
Zero gravity! Through most of the book, there’s no up or down, everything floats. Occasionally in the text, we’d forget, and have someone dropping something, or something liquid dripping, and we had to go back and fix those things to reflect the weightless environment. And it’s fun to draw people floating upside down on the page!
Astra’s family plan to sleep for the 200 years it takes their spaceship to reach their new home on Nova Mundi. But halfway there, Astra finds herself WIDE AWAKE! With her robot friend, Pilbeam, she goes off exploring and soon finds out the ship is in deep trouble. It’s been knocked off course and invaded by a gang of Poglites, an alien salvage crew searching for spoonage. But even the Poglites need Astra’s help when they discover something far more sinister lurking in the canteen. Sure, they’re cakes; but no one would describe them a sweet.
You can buy the book HERE!