An Illustrator In The Shadows

An Illustrator In The Shadows- [book:Go Go Bananas|34569245] Go Go Bananas Author Louise Elisabeth Robertson & Illustrator Stephanie Varga.

It’s almost a year since we first published Go Go Bananas and when I say ‘we’ I mean Stephanie Varga the illustrator of Go Go Bananas and myself. Feedback has been amazing and the journey continues but below is how Go Go first started.  
Go Go Bananas Book for 8's and under

Illustration by Stephanie Varga- Go Go Bananas.


Go Go Bananas was born.

Go Go Bananas kept jumping around in my head and was literally driving me bananas. I just needed to get that rhyme on paper as a real piece of writing. The inception of this book had occurred as I was wandering around Naperville town and saw two small children,on separate occasions, losing it with the adult accompanying them. The children were having temper tantrums, throwing their arms around, jumping up and down and screaming, whilst the distressed adult was trying to placate and discipline at the same time. It was evident that there was anxiety and anguish for all concerned.     The children looked like they were going bananas and I wondered what on earth had caused the incident or conflict between adult and child. I then started to think of all those things that do drive a person bananas with frustration or annoyance or something just plain unfortunate. I then counter balanced those things with incidents that make a person happily ‘bananas’. Go Go Bananas was born; A book created to share these feelings and to reflect on the proper way to deal with them.    

Finding an Illustrator.

I was then in a very frustrating position of having a story but feeling as though I  did not have the skills to illustrate this book. Fortunately I’m the type of person who cannot get a problem out of her head until the problem is solved. This also means that I will happily share issues that I have with anyone who will listen, even with one of the personal trainers in the gym! So one morning I was chatting to the personal trainer (rather than working out) talking about my frustrations with this new book concept and the lack of an illustrator to make the project real. It was worth the share, as he said that he knew of someone who had a degree in Graphic Design and maybe he could help. The personal trainer gave me the contact number and immediately I gave the contact a call and arranged a time to meet up as soon as possible.         The meeting was to take place in Starbucks in the evening as the guy was working during the day. It was one of those ‘red carnation’ moments, when meeting someone that you don’t know or what they look like and when wearing a red carnation in your lapel would help. It suddenly occurred to me that was the case and I couldn’t realistically walk around a coffee shop accosting young males asking if they happened to be a graphic designer ( I know I’m a little on the eccentric side but that would have been just plain weird). So I sent a text message pointing out that I was wearing a royal blue puffer jacket and would be easy to spot. I was hugely hopeful that this guy would be the answer to my problem and Go Go Bananas would soon be in production. The guy arrived and was a very pleasant young man, obviously highly skilled but he was purely a graphic designer and had no illustration experience and over a very quick coffee my hopes were dashed.      

From out of the shadows.

My walk home on that dark autumn evening was full of frustration due to meeting a dead end. I trudged up the hill trying to work out what my next steps would be. At the time my husband and I lived on the edge of a university campus and I had to walk through the campus to get home. It was now 9pm and not the best time to be wandering around in the dark, although the paths were lit by the street lamps. As I wandered back home, I could hear someone approaching from behind but not at pace and not particularly alarming.Their shadow was getting closer and closer to me even though it was projected in front of me. The path narrowed slightly and the person remained behind. I had no idea whether this person, was male, female, short or tall, fat or skinny . What I did know was that I was not too happy with someone behind me and I was feeling really uncomfortable. I decided to deal with this and I turned around and asked the person to either walk by the side of me or go ahead. As it turned out the person was a young woman about my height. She pulled up by the side of me and we struck up a conversation. My curious instinct comes in handy sometimes, as I enquired to whether she was studying at the college. When the answer was yes… I asked her what she was studying and the reply was like a gift from heaven , “ I’m in my final year Graphic Design and illustration and graduate this year”, I could not believe what I was hearing.         In the short walk and 10 mins I was with Stephanie, I explained that I was a writer and wrote for small children and I was looking for a person with whom I could work and who would be able to visualize and interpret my story/ rhyme to create fun images for a picture book designed for children under 8. I also said I knew that this is a bit weird but it was all true and I was not some kind of crazy person (it’s always dodgy declaring that you are not crazy). I gave her my ‘card’ and we swapped telephone numbers and agreed to meet.       When I reached home I was so excited I could not believe my luck. Stephanie and I did message and we did meet up over coffee. After several meetings and discussions we agreed on the next steps for the creation of Go Go Bananas.The book itself was the first commercial venture that Stephanie had ever worked on and this was in the last few months of her final year of study before the graduation in the summer.         The collaboration has been excellent both of us, for me my dream and concept of the book was fulfilled and for Stephanie Varga, a very talented young illustrator who has a great future in front of her, a published work in her field.    

Buying our book

You can buy our book, Go Go Bananas, from a variety of places on-line or on my website We hope you and any small children you know enjoy it.   Louise

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