Children's author-illustrator Nikki Rogers speaks about her narrative and illustration process to create meaningful stories for both herself and her readers.

What do you love about writing and illustrating children’s books?

I love it when I have an idea and the words just flow out of me. I also love it when an illustration is finished and when I can see the book coming together. It’s wonderful to hold a finished product in my hands, but my favourite part is hearing how the books I have written have touched other people and are loved by kids.

What inspires you to write your picture books? How do you develop new ideas?

The children and families who love my books inspire me to keep creating picture books. I get my ideas from the world around me, life experiences and conversations with other people.

From your collection of published books, do you have any personal favourites?

I have personally loved all of them at different stages of my life, but I do personally love Wilbur the Woolly. However, Born To Stand Out was probably the most fun to create and is a fan favourite.

Do you incorporate any personal experiences into your stories? If so, are there any examples you can share?

Yes. All my books have a personal side to them. I like to write books that are meaningful to me and share lessons that I have learned along the way. Sooty and Snow is an obvious example of a personal experience as it was inspired by the real events that happened to my chickens.

How does your writing process change between your books?

Sometimes my inspiration comes from nature and I just start thinking of analogies. Often, I will be having a conversation with someone or a teaching moment with my children and I start using illustrations and metaphors to explain something. Then I usually think more about it while I’m in bed and start forming a story in my head. Sometimes I write down lots of ideas and then bring them together, but other times the story just flows from beginning to end and only needs a little grammatical editing and formatting. Other times I have ideas in the form of illustrations before I have any words.

What do you hope your readers will take away from your stories?

I hope readers will be inspired and encouraged to be the best version of themselves and to use the life they have been given to be a blessing to the world and those around them.

Do you have a favourite style of drawing or painting in illustrations?

I mostly enjoy using water colour and pencil.

How has your illustrating style changed throughout your career?

I originally started illustrating with pencil, then added water colour paint to give the illustrations more vibrancy. In later books such as Wilbur the Woolly and Sooty and Snow I used programs such as photoshop to add layers and backgrounds to give my images more depth. With Born To Stand Out, my most colourful book, I predominately used water colour paint and outlined the images with marker to make them pop. I also used photoshop to add layers.

What process do you follow when illustrating a new children’s book? Does this change depending on the story?

I use a storyboard to help me visualise what kind of illustrations I want to draw, the layout, colours, and how it would all fit in the book. I also look at other pictures for inspiration. Sometimes I will have something in mind but can’t quite visualise it so I will physically create the scene.

Do you have any other projects in the works?

I do have a project that I would like to complete one day. I have all the words but the illustrations I have in mind are a lot more detailed than my usual style, so they are taking me a long time. Although I have enjoyed the self-publishing journey I wouldn’t mind trying the traditional publishing route and see what someone else could dream up with the illustrations.