Talented schoolgirl artist brings her author mum’s characters to life


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A supremely talented young artist has illustrated a children’s fantasy novel written by her mother which is on the shelves of the UK’s biggest bookshop, Waterstone’s.

When author and former schoolteacher Hayley Davenport-Smith was looking for someone to provide the artwork for her first book she could think of nobody better than her 12-year-old daughter Erin.

Now the Ysgol John Bright pupil’s captivating artwork is on the cover and throughout mum’s novel, Labyrinth Junction, a magical tale of a little boy’s adventures when he stumbles into a cave and discovers passages to an enchanted world.

Mum and daughter will be at Waterstones in Llandudno on Easter Saturday, April 20, to sign copies of the book which is already selling well.

Erin said: “I love art and painting and I enjoy reading too so it was great to see my pictures in my mum’s book.”

Former primary school teacher Hayley, 47, who lives in Craig y Don, Llandudno, said: “I actually wrote the book seven years ago but only decided to have a go at publishing it last year and was advised to approach Troubadour Publishing.

“They do have high standards so I was delighted when they agreed to self-publish my book but I needed an illustrator and I chose Erin who is in Year Eight at John Bright and really keen on art.

“She is a quiet girl but very talented and at her primary school her nickname was Erin the Artist.

“She’s also an avid reader and enjoys fantasy so I asked her to design the front cover and it was so good it has all gone from there

“Erin just seemed the perfect choice and it has worked really well. The publisher said it was so good they would use the actual picture for the cover rather than just as the basis for it.”

The choice didn’t come as a surprise to Erin’s art teacher at Ysgol John Bright. Rebecca Sherrington said: “She has massive talent and does such lovely work – it’s on display in the school and it’s a pleasure to teach her.

“From the first time I looked at her sketch book I could see she has a lovely style and she has already chosen Art as one of her options at GCSE.”

And Erin isn’t the only family member involved. Mum of five Hayley said: “The hero of the story is based on my son Ben who is now 16 and in Year 11 at John Bright so it’s nice that they are both involved.

“I really enjoyed writing it and what inspired me was that when I was teaching my favourite part of the job was sitting my class on the carpet and reading stories to them.

“All children love listening to a good story and it was partly to write something for them.

“I always used to read a lot of fantasy fiction when I was young and I loved the CS Lewis Narnia books and Enid Blyton’s Enchanted Wood stories.

“It took me about five months to write it but every couple of years I would get it out and amend it and I’ve now started on the sequel.”

In the story the hero, Ben, is running away from two bullies and he takes refuge in a cave which turns out to be a passageway to other worlds of witches, magic, talking animals, dragons, riddles and evil kings.

It is aimed at eight to 12-year-olds and Hayley, who originally trained as an accountant and still works doing book-keeping, added: “I really enjoyed writing it – my children were younger then and I used to I used to write in the evenings after they’d gone to bed.

“I’d like to be able to give up work and write full-time. I did have to contribute to the self-publishing cost, but decided to use Troubador Publishing as they only accept high quality books.

“I hope it sells well enough so that the sequel will be picked up by a traditional type of publisher.”

“I have started doing author days in schools and did my first one in Stockport where I’m from originally and sold around 80 books on the day.”

Labyrinth Junction is officially released on April 28 but is already available, priced at £7.99, at Waterstones and W H Smith, in Llandudno, and from Amazon.

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