I’m Gavin Bishop, and I have been writing and illustrating books for children since 1978 I always start knowing that I’ve got 32 pages And I distribute the story over those 32 pages My technique is very old-fashioned I draw everything in pencil on a bit of paper I stretch watercolour paper onto sheets of cardboard, do the artwork on that, using ink and paint – watercolour. I just like doing things physically with my hands. I mean I have learned different techniques you can use on a computer, but I just don’t find it very satisfiing I’m currently working on a book for Gecko Press. It is about Captain James Cook’s cook of the Endeavour There’s a huge volume of material about the Endeavour voyage. I thought I have to think up a new angle. So I thought it’d be interesting to look at one of the characters, and that was the cook. Little is known of him, but his outstanding feature was that he had only one hand He had to be very flexible.
He had to cook for 94 people every day. When there wasn’t fresh fruit and vegetables and meat available then the food was probably pretty awful. The cook was often challenged by… cooking things that he knew nothing about. So, in my book I’ve included some of the recipes that he used like… albatross stew and stingray pie, things like that. Poor Knights Islands… they were named by James Cook after his favourite pudding! And it’s like a kind of bread and butter pudding. I have included this in the book as well. So this book could sell as a cookery book… if you can get yourself an albatross. I’ve used food as a point of contact through the whole book. I’ve suggested that our cook – John Thompson – desperately wanted to have a mountain or a stream or a headland named after him Because that’s what Cook was doing I got to use speech bubbles because speech bubbles were very popular in drawings in the 18th century. People like Rowlandson and a lot of his contemporaries. So there’s a great deal of fantasy in my book, but it is all pinned to an accurate historical structure. But he does have a sense of humour, my cook.