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Write till your ink be dry

Nicola Davies' book - A Bird and a Seed



Who created it?

Nicola Davies

About Nicola Davies and her love of writing

“I wanted to write from about the age of twenty, and I wrote scenes and characters in my head all the time. But never put anything on paper. I would go into bookshops and see all those books and think, there’s just too many and I’m not clever enough to do yet another one. So I didn’t start writing until my thirties when I began to write scripts for kids’ programmes. I gradually got more confidence and started to write for Walker Books, then for newspapers and magazines and then adult novels. I’ve just started to write poetry for children too. I’m terribly disciplined about my writing. I just sit down at my desk and get on with it every day I have, and get really cross about being distracted. I also teach writing at a university now and sometimes I get really cross with that too, because it keeps me from getting as much writing done as I would like.”

(Courtesy of Walker Books:

How did you get the idea for your Shakespeare-inspired book?

Very often the materials I use suggest an idea. I’ve been playing with these little paper zig-zag notebooks for a long time. The way that they unfold so that one visual idea can easily connect with the next and then continue on the other side of the notebook creates a natural flow. There are many stories in nature that mimic this flow… seasonal patterns and life histories, how trees can grow from seeds for instance. Seeds are such powerful things - I never cease to feel wonder that a huge oak tree can grow from an acorn smaller than the end of my thumb or a whole field of flowers from a handful of tiny seeds that you can hold in your pocket. There is something entirely magical about it, the thought that by planting a seed you can make a real change in the world. 

How does your book link to Shakespeare?

First of all very simply, oak trees and acorns were also very powerful symbols in Shakespeare's time: ships were made from Oak and the power of England was created by the strength of her navy. But seeds have another meaning too, they are also metaphors for ideas, carried and shared in words, so words can be a seed of change and transformation. Shakespeare’s words have been seeds in people’s hearts creating change, being carried around the world, shared through books, on stages and from one person to another since he first wrote them. His work is full of transformations and the power of humans to change the world around them for good or for ill.

How did you make your book?

I used Schminke watercolour paints on Khadi watercolour zig-zag note books. I love the colours of Schminke paints. An illustrator friend took me to their shop in Prague and I bought a big set. Then another friend gave me an even bigger set because she prefers a different make. Hooray! But I still use up my favourite colours far too quickly. Khadi papers are made in India from cotton rags in an ancient process that uses no harsh chemicals. I love the roughness of the paper and the way it takes the colour. Also I used a bit of crayon and ink gel pen! 

Watch this!

Take a look at this video showing Nicola's beautfiul zig-zag book.