Author / Illustrator Q&A: Michelle Hird (Binx The Jinx)

Binx the Jinx releases tomorrow (August 10th) and we thought you might want to get to know the author and illustrator of this wonderful new children’s book – Michelle Hird. Originally from Liverpool, now living in London, Michelle started working on Binx the Jinx during her time at University. The Tim Burton-esque gothic original looks nothing like the Binx the Jinx we see today; a book bursting with light and colour.

After 10 years in the making, Binx the Jinx will be available in all good bookshops from August 10th. You can pre-order a copy from our website here.

How does it feel to know that your book will be available in just a few days time?

It’s unbelievable! It feels like one of my biggest dreams is about to become a reality.

You’ve been working on Binx the Jinx as a project for some time. Where did the inspiration come from?

I was stressing about my end of year project at University – I felt I hadn’t developed a unique graphic style and thus depleted of inspiration. I was walking home, deep in thought, when a neighbour’s cat jumped out in front of me. I got to thinking about the stigma attached to black cats and, after doing some research, I thought it would make an ideal children’s book.

It was so interesting to find the superstitions attached to cats that have been around for centuries. Surprisingly, I came across the acronym BDS: Black dog syndrome, also associated with black cats; whereby darker coloured animals are passed over for adoption in favor of lighter-colored animals. Animal shelters have a higher volume of black animals than any other colour due to reasons such as; their aggressive portrayal in movies, that the black is associated with misfortune or evil or (pathetically) they don’t photograph well. I hope the moral in my story is strong enough to stay with anyone whom reads it.

At this point, how many drafts would you say Binx has been through?

Binx has been through three major drafts throughout his 10 years. My style has come along way since university; I was heavily influenced by Edward Gorey, Tim Burton and the use of Indian inks and charcoal. As time has gone by, my illustrative language has evolved to a bright, cutesy/kawaii, Japanese inspired world.  

You’re an artist by trade. Which artists and illustrators influenced your style the most?

I have a hundreds upon hundreds of bookmarks containing my favourite creative’s portfolios. Although quite different in style, I find myself turning to the likes of McBess, Simone Legno, Fafi and her Fafi girls; time and time again for inspiration!

What was it that made you not only want to illustrate but to write as well?

Before Binx, I had always enjoyed playing with creative tales and had come up with several short stories (all of which were in rhyme) previously. I feel like it was another creative portal for me to express/amuse myself; I used to write short messages for family or friends in rhyme. Whether it be for a birthday card or a note to say I’ve gone out shopping – I haven’t grown out of it!  

Binx the Jinx is  described as a blend of classic children’s stories and something very modern. Would you agree with that?

My mum used to read to my sister and I – stories which ended with a strong moral. Tales like The Tortoise and the Hare and The Honest Woodcutter still resonate with me to this day. That’s why I wanted to incorporate a powerful message to my story, as I believe it’s so important for children’s development, especially more so living in a digital age.

Finally, what is/was your favourite children’s book?

I have been in love with children’s books to me aren’t just a book

Even though I have no children, to this day I often find myself wandering around Waterstones and the likes admiring children’s books. To me they are more than just a story, they are a piece of art. Being a designer, I understand the complexity, time and energy that the creator has undergone to get to this stage.

Although my all time favourites are the Mr. Men series, Hairy Maclary Donaldson’s Dairy and of course the classic Dr. Seuss stories.