Science Book a Day Interviews Tony De Saulles


Special thanks to Tony De Saulles for answering 5 questions about his illustrations in the recently featured book – The Terrible Truth About Time (Horrible Science)

The best-selling multi award-winning Horrible Science series has kept me busy since Ugly Bugs, the first title, was published in 1996. Our most recent award won earlier this year is The Blue Peter Prize For Best Book With Facts. We’ve sold millions of Horrible Science books in countries all around the world – very exciting! In between the Horrible Science titles I’ve managed to get a few of my own books published. I also enjoy holding cartoon illustration workshops and have appeared at most of the big book festivals in the UK – I’ve even held workshops in China. – From Tony’s Homepage

Tony’s Homepage:
Tony’s Twitter:

#1 – What was the history of the Horrible Science series? Were you involved from the start?

In 1994 Scholastic Children’s Books launched the Horrible Histories series which gained rapid success. The books were such fun that children didn’t realise that they were learning a lot of history from the books – some call it ‘teaching by stealth’. Scholastic decided to give science the same ‘Horrible’ treatment and I happened to call with my portfolio at the time when they were looking to find an illustrator for the new series. I got the job and 18 years later I’m still the Horrible Science illustrator.

#2 – How do you come up with the illustrations? Is there a plan at the start, or do you make it up as you go?

Nick writes the text first then the designers lay the pages out leaving gaps to be filled with my illustrations. Sometimes the text dictates exactly what needs to be illustrated and other times there’s a gap and it’s up to me to think of a suitable image and joke.

#3 – Do you have a philosophy about drawing about science with your particular audience in mind? Who do you envision your audience to be?

I’ve never thought of it as a philosophy but I guess we do have some unspoken rules. These are non-fiction books so although I can use artistic licence in some areas for the sake of the humour, I have to be careful that I’m getting any visual information across accurately. It’s a fine balance. Our audience are primarily children aged 8 – 12 but we hear from older children occasionally and have even received emails from university and PHD students who enjoy the way we tackle the subjects they are studying.

#4 – What has the response to your drawings as part of the Horrible Science series been?

I’ve had a lot of positive feedback over the years and have been lucky enough to be invited to hold Horrible Science Drawing workshops at schools, libraries and book festivals around the country. We are also published in over thirty countries around the world and we are sometimes invited abroad. Our science books are popular in the Far East and Nick and I have visited China three times to promote the series and I’ve also held workshops in India, France and Dubai.

#5 – Are you working on any new books/projects you can tell us about?

We’re currently in the process of updating our books and have just published the first six of our Horrible Science New Editions. We have another very exciting project in the pipeline but I can’t say any more about that at the moment.

[Image Credit: ]

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