The Last Viking turns 10

On a dark and stormy night exactly 10 years ago today, The Last Viking was launched.

It was my very first published book, illustrated by me and written by Norman Jorgensen, and it was launched in dramatic Viking style. Thor brought a ‘once-in-1o-years’ thunderstorm down upon us with 30mm of rain falling in 30 minutes. Hundreds of guests, all completely drenched, helped us celebrate. It was a night to remember, and I can’t believe it’s been 10 years already. Then I look at my kids and my hairline and I can definitely believe it.


To celebrate the milestone, I’ve been posting some behind-the-scenes pics on my Instagram, Facebook and Twitter accounts over the past 10 days; head over to those for more in-depth detail. But I’ll share a little bit of it here too. Here are the rough and final versions of some of my favourite spreads in the book.


You can find more behind-the-scenes posts about The Last Viking here;

and teacher resources are here.


Buy ‘The Last Viking’

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Paper Bird Children’s Books

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Fremantle Press (Australia) – hardback/paperback/ebook
Booktopia (Australia/NZ) – paperback
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Toffle Towers: old-school hand-lettering & a rocket-powered bus

Ever wondered how the title type for a series gets designed? I’ll show you my inspirations for the title type of the Toffle Towers series. I’ll also show you how I designed the series’ quirky shuttle bus vehicle.

Continue reading “Toffle Towers: old-school hand-lettering & a rocket-powered bus”

Toffle Towers: designing a hotel interior

The Toffle Towers series takes place in and around the eponymous hotel – it’s historic, a bit shabby and definitely quirky.  In this post I’ll show you how I designed the hotel’s lobby.

Continue reading “Toffle Towers: designing a hotel interior”

Toffle Towers: designing a hotel exterior

Many scenes in the Toffle Towers series happen in and around the eponymous hotel. So it was down to me – an illustrator with absolutely no architecture experience (!) – to design the exterior of the building. It needed to look historic, a little shabby but also exciting and quirky. Here’s how I designed it.

Continue reading “Toffle Towers: designing a hotel exterior”

Behind the scenes of Gastronauts, part 4: final cover illustration

My new book Gastronauts is out now in bookstores and online.

Today I’m taking you behind the scenes to show you how I illustrated the front cover.

Step 1: cover design

Here’s my final rough:

Continue reading “Behind the scenes of Gastronauts, part 4: final cover illustration”

Behind the scenes of Gastronauts, part 3: cover design

My new book Gastronauts is out now in bookstores and online.

Today I’m taking you behind the scenes to show you how I designed the robots and vehicles in the story.

Quick recap: Sally Tinker is the world’s foremost inventor under the age of twelve. In Gastronauts, Sally’s baby brother Joe swallows her latest invention. So Sally and her friend Charli shrink themselves down in a tiny submarine and journey into Joe’s body.

Here’s how I designed the cover.

Step 1: really bad first sketches

Sometimes you get the cover idea pretty quickly and clearly from the start.

This was not one of those times.

I struggled with this a lot at first; I couldn’t figure out how to show the reader that Sally and Charli were inside a sub, inside Joe, and make Sally and Charli big enough so that they were recognisable, without being too big that the scale stopped being anatomically correct.

None of these ideas really work, but I’ve included them here to show you how a cover design process can go. There are usually lots of rejected, fairly ordinary ideas.

Continue reading “Behind the scenes of Gastronauts, part 3: cover design”

Behind the scenes of Gastronauts, part 2: submarine & robot design

My new book Gastronauts is out now in bookstores and online.

Today I’m taking you behind the scenes to show you how I designed the robots and submarine in the story.

Quick recap: Sally Tinker is the world’s foremost inventor under the age of twelve. In Gastronauts, Sally’s baby brother Joe swallows an invention called the smartCHIP, along with a bunch of tiny robots called smartbots, and also a tiny shrunken submarine containing Sally and her friend Charli.

Here’s how I designed Sally’s SUB and the smartbots. But:

**SPOILER ALERT***

I’ll discuss plot points for the book, so if you haven’t read the book yet, go do that first, then come back.

All good?

Have you gone and read the book?

Ok, here’s how I designed the SUB and the smartbots.

Continue reading “Behind the scenes of Gastronauts, part 2: submarine & robot design”