Guest Post by Tina Cooper
No, I’d not heard of him either but I should have as his books are on sale in the shop at work. I knew I’d seen them somewhere.
You may have heard of Where The Poppies Now Grow written by Hilary Robinson and illustrated by… Can you guess?… That’s right, Martin.
Martin kindly popped in for a chat during our course run by Creative Hats. I think he was under the impression that he’d pop in and then leave us to get some writing done but we were all a little excited. When Martin asked if he’d been talking for too long there was a unanimous “no,” from his audience. We didn’t get any work done that evening.
Not only was* Martin rather lovely; he was also fascinating, in the best possible way. I was thrilled to see how much of himself and his family history is put into his illustrations. Much (all) of my writing contains our family history and Martin made that ok. Not just ok, he convinced me it’s great to document family histories in which ever way is fitting.
I believe the book began as a chat with Hilary at a train station. The train was running late and, as they waited, an idea began to form when they realised they both had an interest in the first world war. Both had family connections to the war and as they swapped stories the seeds of Where The Poppies Now Grow were sown.
See what I did there? Seeds. Poppies. Sorry.
The book is infused with Martin’s family history which makes it all the more wonderful.
Martin has illustrated other books too, one of which I wanted to get signed for my son in a desperate attempt to get him reading.
Where We Once Stood is the story of the Apollo astronauts who walked on the moon. The book contains illustrations by the splendid Martin and I thought it might inspire my 15yr old.
As Martin put pen to page I panicked, I realised that I wanted the book, my son wouldn’t read it. At least that’s what I told myself.
“No, wait, sign it to me,” I almost shouted.
Martin shared the ups and downs of the life of an illustrator and told us that we needed to be passionate about our projects. Writing needs to be the thing you can’t stop yourself doing rather than a plan to get rich quick. Martin can’t stop himself, drawing is his happy place. We couldn’t see the wide smile behind the covid mask but we could feel it.
We asked for advice.
“Put your heart into whatever you do.”
I’m sure you’ll agree that is sound advice for any endeavour.
*I’m sure he is still and always will be lovely.