Friday, 1 November 2019

Women Who Dared To Dream: Interview with illustrator Amy Evans

Once Upon a Time in Birmingham: Women Who Dared To Dream is a fully illustrated book that tells the stories of 30 inspirational women from Birmingham, past and present. We interviewed one of the incredible women who helped make the book a reality... Amy Evans, one of the illustrators:

1. How did you get involved with this book?

I got involved with the book after I was approached by yourselves at the Emma Press and asked if it was something I would like to be involved in. How could I say no! The book didn't even have a name yet, but the concept sounded amazing and I couldn't wait to get going!

I am always proud to be a woman, and proud to have a connection to our beautiful Birmingham and its people. I was really excited.

2. What was it like being part of this book?

Being part of the book has been such an honour. It's a really special thing to be able to acknowledge these great women and their achievements by illustrating them and trying to embody their energy and spirit was a challenge that I tried to embrace. I desperately wanted to get it right so there were a good few furiously balled up sheet of paper in the process of trying to achieve their likeness! When things started coming together it felt good to represent them.

3. What kind of responses have you had from the book?

Lisa Clayton
When I tell people about Once Upon A Time In Birmingham it is always so well received. The way that it is out there and ready to inspire young women can only be a good thing and I love telling people about they way that was an all female effort behind the scenes too. My boss heard about it on the work grapevine and made a point to come and ask me about it and wanted to see a copy which was wonderful!

Hearing people being so positive at the launch and the Waterstones event was so touching. It's really out there and people are loving it, and I think that's been a real highlight. When I've illustrated books before, the normal process is that you finish your illustrations, it eventually goes out to print and it's exciting to see it on the shelves in book shops, but you never really get to see how it's received. This has been a really special book in that the events that have followed have allowed everyone to see how much the girls are enjoying it and being inspired by it.

 4. Can you tell us about a woman who has inspired you?

I find all women inspiring! My Mum, My Girl Gang, My sister, colleagues, everyone! If I had to pick one of the top of my head that inspired me when I was little I would choose JK Rowling. My Mum always made a big point, whilst I was reading the Harry Potter Books, about how she came from nothing and wrote the start of Harry Potter on a Napkin which I always found fascinating and must've taken real strength of character to get to where she is today.

Working on this book has really opened my eyes up to both the struggles and achievements of womenkind, that perhaps being born in the 90's I could've taken for granted. The world was a different place for women not so long ago and change has come about because of the efforts of so many women. The women featured in the book are particularly special because they knew what they wanted to do and were just going for it, regardless of their background, expectations of how they should behave or think or act. They have a cause for change and a job that needs doing and they're letting nothing get in their way! These are the kinds of women I admire in particular.

You can find out more about Once Upon a Time in Birmingham and order your copy (£14.99) here. 

Photo: Jack Spicer Adams

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