I am so pleased to be part of the blog tour for Gordon the Gremlin! Read on to find out about the inspiration for this hilarious book! Written by Lizzie Exton and Illustrated by Tom Exton, Published 15th October by Tiny Tree.
When we were growing up, the Exton family household had a gremlin problem. His name was Gordon. Gordon was, in fact, our dad’s creation and nemesis. Anything which went wrong around the house was blamed on Gordon the gremlin, and the phrase ‘Gordon’s been at it’ was widely used. The cables behind the TV were all tangled together? That was Gordon’s handiwork. Couldn’t find the car keys when running late to work? That was him too. Found your VHS tape seemed to have magically unspooled overnight? You guessed it – Gordon (for younger readers, VHS tapes were what we had before DVDs and Netflix, and thank goodness technology improved).
I’ve wanted to be a writer since I was tiny, and Tom was doodling as soon as he could get is hand round a pencil (he once drew smiley faces on the new wallpaper – even Gordon couldn’t be blamed for that one). We’re the sort of people who always have to have at least one creative project on the go, me writing short stories and attempting to start a book and Tom illustrating a graphic novel and entering various art competitions.
When we both found ourselves in a bit of a creative rut, we decided the only way to climb out of it was by working together. We’ve always bounced ideas of each other and given each other feedback and suggestions, but this time we felt we needed something to work towards collaboratively. In order to find that creativity again, we were at a point where we needed something new which would take us out of our comfort zones. The only problem was, we weren’t sure what that something new should be.
The idea for a children’s book called Gordon the Gremlin seemed to come out the blue. I think we began discussing how to combine our different skillsets over dinner one evening, and somehow began to reminisce about the books we’d loved as kids. A picture book then became the obvious choice, although I think it surprised us both a little. We were both used to writing and illustrating for adults, but the more we fleshed out and played with the Gordon the Gremlin concept, the more excited we became about the idea.
It began with Tom sketching out rough character designs and me working, reworking and re-reworking the script, until we were both happy with them. Once we’d alighted on the right design for Gordon, Tom was off like a rocket putting together the images and colouring them. The whole process took him several months of hard graft, but we were both pleased with the outcome and were over the moon to have finally finished a joint project.
Being picked up by our publisher, Tiny Tree, felt like winning the lottery and I can still remember that day so well. To finally see our book on the shelves of bookshops and in people’s homes – it was a dream which suddenly seemed to be coming true! Now that Gordon is finally being unleashed on the world, we couldn’t be happier. He’s come a long way from a madcap dinner table conversation to a bookshop near you, and we hope you enjoy reading about his mischief as much as we’ve enjoyed writing about and illustrating it.