When Liz, my amazing illustrator and publisher of Fuzzypig Books sent me her first drawing of Dylan, I didn't much like him! But as we worked through the text together, and more and more illustrations fell into my in box, I began to love him.
I had been asked many times "so, how will Dylan look?" Or, "what sort of illustrations do you want?" To which I could only reply, "I'll know it when I've seen it!" I toyed with various ideas in my mind about how best to depict the down to earth, realistic and funny story. I knew which illustrators and styles I admired, but what was best for Dylan?
To me, Dylan's picture was a little bland and nondescript, or even a little frightening with the emotions he was portraying. But I reminded myself that this was our brief. That Dylan needs to be a character that children with ASD can identify with. So he can't have a very specific look or clothing, as a child on the spectrum might be distracted by this. Also, his emotions need to be seen clearly, as anything ambiguous would be hard to interpret.
As I saw Dylan in the different parts of the story, at school, at home in the bath, and having a bed time story with his cat in beautifully drawn scenes, I became reassured, and excited to see him popping up every time.
It's a strange experience having your words set to visual, and it's only been possible because Liz also has a strong interest in children with additional needs and understanding of them. It took me eight years to find her, but she has bought Dylan to life!