Avon Valley Gazette - - WHAT'S ON - Tanya MacNaughton

WA writer and il­lus­tra­tor Kelly Canby’s brain is wired for words and pic­tures, which is for­tu­nate be­cause she is ter­ri­ble at maths.

“Draw­ing was one of the first things I re­mem­ber do­ing as a child and I would spend hours do­ing it,” Canby said.

“I would go into my own lit­tle world and with the pic­tures came sto­ries. I stud­ied de­sign and ma­jored in il­lus­tra­tion at Curtin Univer­sity and after grad­u­at­ing I worked for many years as a graphic de­signer.

“I loved de­sign but my work always had a strong il­lus­tra­tive feel; that was the way I was be­ing pulled. So after my son was born in 2010, I de­cided to re­ally fo­cus on my il­lus­tra­tion work and just like when I was young, with the pic­tures came the sto­ries.”

Canby is an in­ter­na­tion­ally pub­lished il­lus­tra­tor and au­thor of more than a dozen ti­tles, from pic­ture books and colour­ing books to chap­ter books and early read­ers. Her lat­est pic­ture book, The Hole Story, was re­leased in March through Fre­man­tle Press.

It fol­lows the story of a boy called Char­lie who finds a hole, picks it up and puts it in his pocket while he looks for some­one who might need it.

The Hole Story comes after Canby’s first pic­ture book All the Lost Things in 2013, which is about a young girl who dis­cov­ers a man­hole in a busy street and de­cides to climb in and ex­plore.

“I was brain­storm­ing ideas for a new story but my mind kept com­ing back to this man­hole, or hole in the ground, and I felt like there was an­other story to be told there,” she said.

“Be­ing a visual thinker, I closed my eyes and pic­tured this hole while ask­ing my­self my favourite prob­lem solv­ing ques­tion, which is ‘ What if?’ What if you could pick up the hole? What if the hole was some­thing you could hold, and carry and take places?’. The story grew from there.

“I don’t think I’ll write anymore sto­ries about holes. I feel like I might be done with that theme, but never say never.”

Canby said she worked at her home stu­dio from the time she dropped her son at school un­til the time she picked him up.

“While the sto­ries I write tend to be more con­cept- based than lo­ca­tion- based, I feel very much in­spired by where I live,” she said.

“An hour sit­ting under a tree at City Beach can get my head buzzing with ideas.”

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