iUniverse acknowledges the achievements of children’s books illustrator Sir Quentin Blake

Sir Quentin Blake

Illustrator Quentin Blake has become Sir Quentin Blake in the UK New Year Honors list. His highly distinctive drawings have helped bring to life some of the most popular characters ever in children’s literature.

His collaborations with Roald Dahl on some of his most famous books are what he is probably best known for and his sketches captured the very essence of the BFG and Willy Wonka. Quentin Blake was born in, Sidcup, South London in 1932 and has drawn ever since he can remember. Blake was educated at Chislehurst and Sidcup Grammar School before going to Downing College, Cambridge. After his National Service he did a postgraduate teaching diploma at London University, followed by life-classes at Chelsea Art School. Then went on to teach over twenty years at the Royal College of Art, where he was Head of Illustration department for 8 years until 1986.

Drawing heart

However he has always worked as an illustrator and his first drawings were shown in Punch when he was just sixteen and still at school. He has continued to draw for Punch, The Spectator and other magazines over the years. In 1960h e entered the world of children’s books with ‘A Drink of Water ‘by John Yeoman. In the world of children’s books, he is best-known for his collaboration with writers like Joan Aiken, Michael Rosen, Russell Hoban, and, as said most famously, Roald Dahl. As well as illustrating   classic children’s books for others, he has created much-loved characters of his own.  His more recent collaborations have been with Little Britain star David Walliams and his series of children’s books.

His books have won numerous prizes and awards, together with the Whitbread Award, the Kate Greenaway Award, the Emil/Kurt Maschler Award and also the international Bologna Ragazzi Prize. He was appointed the first Children’s Laureate in 1999 and won the 2002 Hans Christian Author Award for Illustration, the top international recognition for creators of children’s books.

What others say

“He can tell wonderful stories without a single word, but his partnership with Roald Dahl was made in heaven. Or somewhere. The diabolic ingenuity of Dahl came into its own only when he wrote for children. In conjunction with Blake, there was a kind of alchemy. It is a world where the good are rewarded in the story, and championed in the pictures, and where the creeps and bullies are punished in the plot and damned by the way they were drawn. I’ve never met a child who doesn’t love Quentin Blake.”

Melanie McDonagh, Daily Telegraph, April 2002

iUniverse publishing says thank you to Sir Quentin for all the joy he has brought to children all over the world with his illustrations.


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iUniverse would be happy to see another Les Misérables

Les Miserables Author Victor Hugo

The other day I was pondering just how big and timeless a book can become? Take for instance Les Mis, written by Victor Hugo in 1862, who is one of the most important of French Romantic writers, being the first to write about all aspects of contemporary life. His best-known works are The Hunchback of Notre Dame (1831) and, of course, his epic tale of social injustice, Les Misérables.

The Author

Though a royalist in his youth, Hugo’s views changed as time passed; becoming a passionate supporter of republicanism and his work touches upon most of the political and social issues and artistic trends of his time. When he died over 2 million attended his funeral at The Pantheon.

Antiquarian copies of Les Miserables

The Book

Les Misérables is widely considered one of the greatest novels of the nineteenth century. The appearance of the novel was highly anticipated and advertized; however critical reactions were mainly negative. However commercially, the book was a great success, not just in France, but across the world.

The Musical

It didn’t stop there, the story became a stage musical, which was originally conceived and produced in France, before its English-language adaptation, produced by Cameron Mackintosh, opened in London on 8 October 1985, launching what has turned out to be a global phenomenon.

Les Miserables The Musical

At the opening of the London production, reviews were bad and the literarati condemned it for converting classic literature into a musical. However public opinion differed: the box office got record receipts. The three-month engagement sold out, and lo and behold the critics reviews improved. The London production has run continuously since: the second longest-running West End show after The Mousetrap, The Broadway version opened in March 1987 and ran until May 2003, only closing after 6,680 performances. Becoming the 4th longest-running Broadway show and nominated for 12 Tony Awards, of which it won eight.

Also there have been numerous tours, productions have been staged across the globe, plus any number of recordings, as well as concerts and broadcasts. In 2005, it was first in a BBC Radio 2 listener poll of Britain’s “Number One Essential Musicals”, receiving over 40% of the votes.

The Movie

Now we have a film version directed by Tom Hooper (of The King’s Speech fame), which was released in the US at the end of 2012, the 150th anniversary of the book being published, and is being released globally this coming weekend. The movie has already amassed huge box-office takings and been nominated for many, many of the movie awards.

So we at iUniverse publishing say the moral of the story is never give up, keep writing and, who knows, you could end up with your own ‘Les Mis’.

Les Miserables The Movie




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Good Reads: Why for Writers

If you are like me you have poked around Goodreads, wrote a few reviews, maybe discovered a book, but not much else. The question occurred to me is there any benefit for self-published authors to use Goodreads? And if so, How? Well, with the magic of the inter-webs, I soon had at least a preliminary answer. I came across this guest post on Writer’s Digest. Written by Patrick Brown, the head of the Author Program at Goodreads,

To read the post, journey HERE

Book marketing

Best Selling Author of “Indecent Proposal” Riffs with iUniverse

iUniverse Self-published Author | Jack EngelhardJack Engelhard is my new hero in the self- publishing industry. After selling more than 22 million copies of his second book, Indecent Proposal, he turned his back on the traditional publishing industry.

The book established him as a fiction writer and was made into a Hollywood movie of the same name starring Demi Moore and Robert Redford.

He had already flirted with new distribution methods, being the first writer to serialize a full length novel using Amazon. (If you are following the industry you know this is now a flagship of Amazon’s new business strategy.) This work, The Bathsheba Deadline, and disagreements with the New York publishing establishment over key elements of his characters ultimately lead him to reject the gate-keepers, and and turn down several lucrative offers for the story, before finally chosing iUniverse.  I say well played sir. Well played.

He mentions that he much prefers “by-pass publishing” to having to censor his work. In this interview with iUniverse he describes standing up for your work, the art of the hook, and getting a book to film.

read the full interview HERE

Books, What I am Reading

A Reminder from the Universe – Avoid the Spam

To many new to the world of the internet, they may not appreciate the depth in which the medium has grown. Especially new self-published authors who are just now learning about the potential which blogs and social media can play in their DIY marketing campaign.

Just like back in 2005 when Myspace was really taking off, and musicians were first attempting to use it to get their sounds out there, it quickly turned into a spam fest. That was then and this is now, we of the internet age began to frown on mass mail type approaches to getting new fans. It got so bad I wouldn’t listen to those types of musicians on principle.

Unfortunately, many new indie authors are taking this approach. Re-tweeting the same buy now message… hint I have been un- following YOU.  A even worse thing to do is annoy entire communities of readers. Spam link some blogs and that will defiantly happen. And even bigger no no is to annoy the admin of a influential blog, such that they write a scathing post directed at you.

But blogs are very valuable resources for authors.  they are the Salons of the NOW. iUniverse Writer’s Tips has a number of great articles on how to use Blogs to find new readers as well as how to tactfully solicit interviews from blogs for your book.

Book marketing