Taylor Dolan was born into a house of stories and raised in Texas. She attended the Cambridge School of Art earning an MA in Children’s Book Illustration. She now lives in Arkansas, while using her imagination to pretend she still lives in Cambridge. Ghoul Scouts Welcome to Camp Croak is her first book for children and tells the story of young Lexie Wilde who finds herself not at the Happy Hollow Camp for Joyful Boys and Girls, but at Camp Croak with a werewolf, a zombie and a ghost as new friends. Taylor answered our questions about her book.
Ghoul Scouts is deliciously macabre! How did the idea come about, and what is it about the macabre that so appeals to you?
I’ve always had a proclivity for all things dark and twisty! The more rats, ghosts and hauntings in a project, the happier I am. There is so much freedom in not having to stay sweet.
This is your first book, and you wrote and illustrated it. What was that like? Did you plan text and illustrations together? Were there particular challenges in the process?
Technically speaking, this is not my first book. At the same time I was embarking on writing Ghoul Scouts: Welcome to Camp Croak!, I was re-illustrating The Phantom of the Opera for the Folio Society. Another divinely macabre little tale. Re: Ghoul Scouts, in order to convince Bella Pearson (Guppy Books) to take on my book I wrote and illustrated the first three chapters. Fortunately, she got hooked and told me to go ahead and write the rest of the book!
The illustrations are very distinctive. Can you tell us about the techniques you used and your approach?
Thank you! Everything for Ghoul Scouts was drawn with dip pen and ink. As a method, it’s a bit old fashioned (and incredibly messy), but the lines that come from working with a flexible nib are wonderful.
Which illustrators inspire you, and which children’s books mean the most to you?
Oh, the list is so very long. At this very moment, I’m loving the work of Clive Hick-Jenkins. You can really feel his love for shadows and theatricality in each and every piece. In terms of stories I grew up with? I will never not be in awe with Roald Dahl’s books. They are sharp, clever and strange.
Will there be more adventures for Lexie Wilde? What else are you working on at the moment?
Absolutely, there will be! I just finished writing a draft of book two, it should be in bookshops next Halloween.
Ghoul Scouts: Welcome to Camp Croak! is published by Guppy Books, 978-1913101060, £6.99 pbk