‘I see Kydd’s eyes open and honest, blue as a Sorrento sea… ’
Im delighted to feature Lin-Marie Milner-Brown as the November Reader of the Month. Lin-Marie is a book illustrator who lives in Nottinghamshire. Lin-Marie’s a great fan of sea tales and films like Master and Commander and The Onedin Line – and says the 18/19th century maritime environment now seems so familiar to her that it regularly features in lucid dreams. She says she has such an affinity with the sea that she thinks this must be in the family DNA.
Over to Lin-Marie…
Can you tell me a bit about your background and professional life as a book illustrator?I’ve been sketching ever since I could hold a pencil! There was no shortage of materials. My Dad was a printer/stationer and let me loose in the stockroom while he was busy. I once got covered in red indelible ink – so my Mum was none too pleased with him! Contributions to school and university magazines followed, but it is only in the last seven years or so that I’ve illustrated publications for sale. The two most recent are both books for young people: ‘Earth Strider’ by Mike Watson (Thynks) and ‘Uncivil War’ by Noel Harrower (Troubador) due to be published on 28 November.
I believe you sailed in some of the great liners – what memories have you from these glorious ships?
Most of our travels (as a family) have been to and from Australia in the years 1956-64, twice with P & O, once on the Achille Lauro and also Sitmar SS Fairsky. The elegance and exciting ambience of the first three cannot be overstated…memories are vivid still, after 50 years. My brother and I had free run of the ship, even on to the bridge. We didn’t want the journeys to end, and each port promised new and exciting sights, sounds and smells. It’s so sad that the colossal cruise ships of today are like gross ‘eateries-cum-holiday resorts’, most of them clones of each other.
What drew you to the Kydd books and do you have a favourite title? Favourite character?A friend gave me the first one, and I read it in one night – this had me hooked. I survive on just 3-4 hours of deep sleep [due to a medical condition], so reading is my way of relaxing in the wee small hours…
My favourite character? Apart from Kydd and Renzi, of course – is Tysoe. He’s like a Caribbean Jeeves: loyal, quietly capable, wise, and seems to know intuitively what Kydd’s needs are. I like to think he does have some past /future lives of his own…perhaps there’s a theme for a book there?
For my 50th Birthday, I travelled to Cape Town and explored South Africa…I found Conquest very interesting – it bought the place to life for me.
If you had to draw Kydd what do you feel would be the essence of the portrait in terms of his personal qualities?
Kydd’s face would reveal both his serious and humorous traits. His eyes open and honest, blue as a Sorrento Sea.
Would you have liked to have lived in Kydd’s Day?
Difficult one that! The advances in medicine and hygiene have made our modern lives so much longer and more comfortable. Some of the descriptions of how wounds were treated after a battle are truly gruesome! If I could go back in time, I would have to be a man, because their lives were so much more adventurous and physical. Only wealthy women learned how to read (this ability has been such a sanity preserver for me!) and even if rich, ladies’ options were limited. I would definitely have been an officer in the Royal Navy!