we get to build monsterville!

Awhile ago I did a couple events at the amazing Discover centre in Stratford, northeast London, (blogged here and here) and the director, Sally Goldsworthy, invited me back to meet up with two titans in children’s books, Neal Layton and Ed Vere. While just meeting them was exciting enough, it got better and better when I found out our project was to build a MONSTER VILLAGE!

So we’re going to draw a bunch of stuff and come up with ideas, then their team of techicians (led by Paul Callaghan, whose training’s in theatre sets and lighting) will turn it into 3-D reality! I think this is possibly the best job I’ve ever had, even better than building stuff with Lego. Here are the two very fine gentlemen with whom I’m working:

Ed Vere and Neal Layton

Ed Vere got excited about the idea of visitors going down the stairs, into a mysterious jungle sort of trail, like explorers. And Neal and I loved the idea that, after beating their way through these mysterious tree trunks, fronds and swamp life, that visitors would emerge to discover a lost village of monsters, like coming up the Inca Trail. We thought that, while the streets of the town could be shadowy, with creatures peering out, the shops could be cosily lit; when you go inside, the shops could have lovely displays, but still very monster-ish. A sort of Diagon Alley (but for monsters, not wizards). So we got the giggles thinking of all kinds of shops the monsters might run, and I took on designing an ice cream parlour/sweet shop, with fascinatingly horrible things in the jars, a bit like the kitchen scene in Morris the Mankiest Monster but more attractively sofa fountain-ish.

Morris the Mankiest Monster

I’m also designing a beauty parlour, where the monsters go to get magnificently ugly. We were talking amazing wigs, claw extensions, moustaches, this is going to be so fun. So far, I’ve just made some rough sketches of the ice cream parlour. Things may change entirely, but I’ve named it Lolliplops, thanks to a great suggestion by the writer Graham Marks on Twitter (GeeMarks). Right now I’m keeping it simple, while I find out if Paul and the guys can build it, then we’ll go in and add details and more monsters.

Here’s the exterior. I think the space may need to extend a bit further back than I’ve drawn it (unless they build it like a Tardis).

And the interior. I think I’m basing it a bit on this place that used to be in my home town called Farrell’s Ice Cream Parlour, that was my idea of sugar heaven as a kid. I thought it had gone entirely out of business, but bizarrely, a couple years ago, Stuart and I stumbled across one in Thailand, and I instantly regressed to the age of five.

Since we started working on this, I’ve heard from my friend Morvan and my agent Jodie that another amazing monster shop has opened in Hoxton! It’s called The Ministry of Stories and you can see loads of great photos here. Morris informs me that he is already adding to his loyalty card there, so I will definitely have to go over and have a look. So fabulous!

Photos from wemadethis.co.uk

And here’s the team from our meeting:

Paul Callaghan, Sally Goldsworthy, Ed Vere, Eleanor Butler, Kate Wolstenholme, Neal Layton, agent Tamlyn Francis

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