James Foley

Illustrator, author, speaker, facilitator

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James Foley – Writing and Illustrating Picture Books – Adult program

James Foley:

Back in September I gave a presentation for adults at the Ipswich StoryArts Festival, on the process of writing and illustrating picture books. Thanks to Rachelle Sadler for the write-up on my session.

Originally posted on StoryArts Festival Ipswich:

Sunday 13 September – Story by Rachelle Sadler

When I heard that James was unwell and it was uncertain whether he could present on Sunday at the Story Arts Festival, I was more than a little disappointed (and concerned for his health, of course)! I was anticipating his session ‘Writing and Illustrating Picture Books’ based on the perspective and wisdom of an accomplished author/illustrator.

James Foley plan

Thankfully, in spite of illness James presented his session, starting with the basics of picture book story styles. With each type he included examples of picture books written in that style. For example, ‘There was an old lady’ is a classic cumulative structure and ‘Ten little monkeys’ is written in de-cumulative structure.

James shared some general tips for picture book texts including:

  • Write about things you can be bothered drawing
  • You don’t have to write it if the pictures can show it
  • Read the…

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My Dead Bunny by Sigi Cohen and James Foley

James Foley:

Zac at ‘My Best Friends Are Books’ wrote this great review of my latest book ‘My Dead Bunny’. Cheers Zac!

Originally posted on My Best Friends Are Books:

So you like picture books about cute bunny rabbits who nibble on carrots or deliver chocolate eggs in a basket?  Well this is definitely not the picture book for you.  However, if you like picture books about gross, stinky, horrible creatures then this book is absolutely perfect for you.  Meet Brad the zombie bunny in Sigi Cohen and James Foley’s new picture book, My Dead Bunny.


We first meet Brad when he is visiting his owner in bed one night and we’re told of how Brad came to be dead.  Brad was just a normal, cute, fluffy bunny until the day he decided to chew through the TV cord and got electrocuted. The family bury him but the boy misses him and decides to dig him up and check on him.  This is when Brad starts to cause a panic, scaring everyone silly, stinking up the house and making a…

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Seriously Spooky Month: Guest Post – James Foley

James Foley:

Here’s a post I wrote for Zac over at ‘My Best Friends Are Books’, talking about how I designed Bradley the zombie bunny.

Originally posted on My Best Friends Are Books:


Bringing My Dead Bunny to life – James Foley



I have never owned a rabbit, let alone a zombified one, so when I began working on ‘My Dead Bunny’ I had no idea how to approach the character of Bunny Brad. I knew plenty about zombies, having watched all of the Walking Dead and the original Romero film Night of The Living Dead; but I didn’t know how to draw a decent rabbit (or, as this book required, an indecent one).

In addition, I wasn’t sure what illustration style would suit the book; in the first few pages I needed to show a live rabbit being electrocuted, then coming back as a zombie, and I needed to accomplish this without making the audience want to stop reading, close the book, and burn it immediately. As you would expect, it was a challenge bringing a dead bunny to life.

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My Dead Bunny is out now!

dead-bunny-lurking-at-your-local-bookshopMy Dead Bunny is on the loose! He was officially released on Oct 1st, and he’s already been sighted in bookshops across Australia. If you’re after a signed copy, there are some at Harry Hartog’s in Bondi Junction (NSW), Beaufort St Books in Mount Lawley (WA), and the State Library of WA. I’ll also be signing copies in Melbourne this Saturday at the Federation Square Markets (Oct 10th, 12pm-3pm).

Thanks to everyone who’s grabbed a copy so far; I hope you like it!

'My Dead Bunny' (2015), front cover

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James Foley – School Program – 9 September, 2015

James Foley:

This week I’m at the StoryArts Festival in Ipswich, Queensland presenting to school kids. Here’s a write-up on my sessions from festival volunteer (and fellow writer) Yvonne Mes.

Originally posted on StoryArts Festival Ipswich:


The children went on a trip down to memory lane where a cheeky little boy names James Foley once lived.

This little boy would usually draw on paper, but when that ran out he would also draw ON the table, and even UNDER the table!

James showed us many of his early drawings, stories and his very first book award for the Cat Burglar in primary school. Many of these first drawings generated many new and crazy story ideas by the children from dinosaurs squashing cities to it raining whales!

We heard all about Norse myths, losing an eye for wisdom and debating what body part would be best missed in exchange for some wisdom. Parents beware, most children were happy to exchange a sibling for some wisdom instead!

James also talked about that little voice in your head when you are drawing which says that what you are drawing…

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The ‘My Dead Bunny’ book trailer

It’s here! Finally I can show you the book trailer for ‘My Dead Bunny‘.

It’s two minutes-worth of animated zombie bunny badness.

I had a lot of fun putting this one together; I tried to mimic the old-school monster movie trailer format (i.e. melodramatic title cards and hammy voice-over. See the original Frankenstein trailer for a prime example).

I’d love to hear what you think! Leave a message in the comments.

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Just a typical Children’s Book Week session (with zombie animals)

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Last week was Children’s Book Week, my busiest week of the year. It’s the time when schools and libraries across Australia invite children’s authors and illustrators to speak to their students. For me it’s become more of a Children’s Book Month: between July 30th and September 16th this year I’m giving 93 talks and workshops to schoolkids. Each session with grade 4s and up is featuring at least one zombie animal. Here’s how a typical session looks.

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Drawing on body language


Body language is very important in my books. While a facial expression can easily hint at the emotional state and thought processes of the characters, body language gives the reader extra clues about how the characters are feeling and thinking. This makes it easier for the reader to understand the images and the story. I would argue that accurate and expressive body language also makes the characters feel more real, more human – which helps the reader to engage with the story.

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