Interview with Ziggyshortcrust - Childrens Book Illustrator & Blogger

I went pondering to a blog full to the brim with drawings of elves, fairytales, dragon scales and wonderful creatures that look to be made of stories and thousands of possibilities. This whimsical blog is named "ziggyshortcrust", which is just the sort of name you'd expect to be sitting a side Rumplestiltskin, Rapunzel and Pochahontus, whilst drinking a cup of tea philosophizing amongst themselves keeping the Mad Hatter at bay. I do think ziggyshortcrust lives in a world that many people, including myself, dream of; Drawing illustrations for childrens books and driving around in a cruisey Wolkswagon Van.

Being the Ziggy fan that I am, I'd love to formally introduce you to Ziggyshortcrust with a personal interview with her!

Tell us a little about yourself and your blog?
First of all thank you Elle, for such an amazing introduction. You’ve got my lifestyle nailed. It’s just like that… only with more tea.

I live in the North East of England and am a very proud Northerner. I’m actually a Yorkshire lass but have been an adopted Geordie for some 20 years now. (A Geordie is the name for someone who was born and lives in Newcastle upon Tyne, the city I live in). My day job is working in a fantastic museum; Seven Stories, the National Centre for Children’s Books. It is full of original artwork and manuscripts and regularly visited by children’s authors and illustrators.

By night I am an elf whisperer and doodler which is the subject of my blog. There you can find out all about the long faced, pointy eared creatures that inhabit my world, join in with my letter writing challenge or find out what it’s like to wrangle two skinny dogs and drive a clapped out old VDub bus.

Note: The Simonside Elf; long faced, glum with pointy ears. Elves don't smile you know. At least not in front of humans!

What inspired you to begin drawing and blogging?
I have enjoyed drawing and writing for as long as I can remember, but it was who rather than what that inspired me. Miss Shaw and Mrs Bell, my English teacher and art teacher respectively. Between them they encouraged my writing and love of books and helped develop my drawing skills. They were both incredibly supportive and generous with their time.

And blogging? Well, a little elf whispered in my ear one day “You should start a blog Ziggy, you won’t regret it.” And she was right. It is so much fun and I have discovered some fabulously talented people. Every day I’m zipping off around the world to have a look at what everyone is up to and joining in with thought provoking conversations. The discipline of regularly posting work has improved my drawing skills too.

What are your favourite pieces of artwork you've ever made?
I love drawing people rather than landscapes or inanimate objects. And I especially enjoy drawing faces. My daughter has been a pretty good model over the years and my favourite piece is of her with a baby dragon. (You can find out about the day we went Dragon Training for her tenth birthday on my blog).  My “go to medium” is coloured pencils and I was particularly pleased with the results for this.  The tilt of her head and the look of fondness she has for the dragon capture the moment.

The other piece also includes my daughter this time as a Celtic Warrior. I love the Celtic style of knots and swirls and their mythical creatures and humans bound together for eternity.  This is in my other favourite medium, ink, and was inspired by the “beard pullers” a description given to Celtic images of two opposing warriors locked in combat holding each other’s facial hair. Of which they had a lot! My daughter is entwined in a game of tug with Lizzie, our much missed mongrel beauty.

If you had to go to an island and only bring three things what would they be? 
The first two would be the skinny dogs; Mischa and Honey my lurchers. They are great hunting dogs so hopefully they would track down my supper. They would love running around an island all day and we could all snuggle up at night to keep warm. The third thing would be a bottle of everlasting environmentally friendly shampoo. I hate having dirty hair, and you never know when Man Friday might turn up. (I’m assuming this is a desert island of course. )

What is your favourite childrens book?
Goodness me! Just one book? Can I be cheeky and choose two? Actually, even that’s hard. All I ever read now is children’s books and there is a vast array to choose from, all wonderfully written and a joy to read, from picture books through to YA fiction.

I’m going to pick one that inspired me as a child and one that inspired me as an adult. First up, Five Run Away Together by Enid Blyton. I read all the Famous Five books, again and again. They were my childhood equivalent of the Harry Potter series.  I longed to be in their gang, roaming the windswept Cornish countryside, stumbling upon adventures with a loyal dog like Timmy by my side.  My heroine was feisty Georgina who acted like a boy and demanded to be known as George. And my first book crush was Julian, the leader of the group. But it is the third book that I remember because of the terrifying Stick family who try to poison Timmy.  When I write now I always have that sense of adventure in mind.

My favourite children’s book read as an adult is in complete contrast to The Famous Five. It is YA novel Tender Morsels by Margo Lanagan. I absolutely adore fairy tales and this is a retelling of Snow White, Rose Red. It is not, however, for the feint hearted. The first 40 pages or so are terrifyingly dark and nightmarish and although set in a folkloric world are none the less horrific. Lanagan’s writing is stupendous and I would recommend any of her novels and short stories. I also adored the book cover by Caniglia.

What is your favourite quote?
Have nothing in your home that you do not know to be useful, or believe to be beautiful
Quoted by William Morris

I like to keep possessions to a minimum, clutter makes me nervous. The fewer things you have the more precious they are. It helps you focus on what is important.  I think that’s why I enjoy life on the road in Sunny, my little yellow bus. Space is at a premium so everything I take has to earn its place.  If it’s useful as well as beautiful so much the better, which is why vintage pieces make it into the bus.  Well worn, but still serviceable kitchenalia are wonderful.  Mind you that said I probably do have more fine liner pens than any rational human being requires.


  1. Aw, I love those piccies of the Skinny Dogs.They have had a fantastic weekend running around the Simonside Hills but not an elf in sight.
    Thanks for the chat Elle and an illustrated letter will be its way to you soon.

    1. Thanks ziggy for stopping by and for doing such a great interview, it was a pleasure to read what you have had to say and a lovely insight into your world. Thanks I am looking forward to it! I will have to post it up! Many hugs ziggy!

  2. Nice post and that paintings are amazing. I like that pics with dogs too. Have a great monday.

    1. Thanks so much Denise, you should definitely check out her blog!

  3. I like this lady so much... great to read more about her!! <3

  4. Ziggy is awesome.
    I enjoyed the interview and hearing more about her.
    Thank you for taking the time to tell more people about her :-)

    A Fan


With love, thank you for your comments ♥❤ elle

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