Illustrator brings children’s book to life

Illustrator brings children’s book to life

Kathrynn Parris is new to the Whitehall community within the last year, and she has been using her talents to help a self-publishing author native to Oregon bring her stories to life visually.

Cherise Arthur spoke of how the now-Whitehall illustrator was able to illustrate her latest children’s book, “Bella and the Queen’s Ponies.”

“Kathrynn told me she wanted me to do it because she is very shy and she doesn’t feel quite comfortable just yet,” Arthur said.

Arthur began as a paralegal after high school and then switched gears to education for 22 years. She started as a secretary to the principal and worked her way to being a mediator who coordinates with staff and faculty and meets with both them and students for mediation. Arthur’s love for history, horses and writing was what inspired her to look into self-publishing children’s books. She joined a writer’s group in her area almost five years ago.

“Every year they would do an annual conference and they would bring in literary agents, screenwriters, agents from all over for people who want to be published. I did that for a while when I started to write my first book. I decided to go the traditional route and it’s really competitive. You need to have an agent to get your foot in the door,” she said.

Arthur explained she tried for about six months going the “traditional route” but when she wasn’t receiving as much traction as she wanted, she thought of self-publishing. This led to Arthur researching self-publishing, different children’s book authors, and the formatting of children’s books.

After the success of self-publishing “Sierra & Star,” Arthur found herself looking for a new illustrator for a story she thought of while vacationing in Europe with her husband. She was interested in writing about Queen Elizabeth and her horses after visiting Buckingham Palace and the Royal Mews.

A page from “Bella & the Queen’s Ponies”

“Kathrynn and my husband’s niece went to high school together, so that’s how I met her. When I first started thinking about the illustrations for the book, I reached out to my husband’s niece because she could draw really well. Her mother got sick at the time I asked, but she said she had a friend she went to high school with and that’s how I found her,” she said.

Arthur explained that Parris made her aware this was the first children’s book she would be illustrating, but she explained that she had already seen some of her work and knew she would be able to do it.

“I gave her the story and she kind of just went with it,” Arthur said. “She would send me the line drawings and they would look great. After the line drawings, she would go back and add details based on where the story takes place because she wanted it to be as authentic as possible.”

“Bella and the Queen’s Ponies” is set in Wistman Woods of Devon, England. Arthur explained that Parris did plenty of research to make sure all the fine details were accurate. Arthur also mentioned that Parris is highly critical of her own work.

Bella, illustrated by Kathrynn Parris

“She did a really great job with the details of the forest like making sure the colors, leaves, trees, and pony sizes were right. She really did her homework because she said if she puts it out there, she wants it to look good,” Arthur said.

Parris takes her time with the visualization process, according to Arthur. She said that she is able to know what a client wants and is flexible with ideas.

“She takes her time to come up with the conception of what I was looking for or what a client would look for and she’s really good at communicating,” she said.

One of the illustrations Arthur spoke about was the back cover of the book. The back has two mice running and Parris brought the idea to Arthur, which she loved.

“She said we needed to add mice to the story. I said okay and asked about her thinking process. She said we needed more animals because she wanted to use the mice on the back of the book. She did the back cover to show me what she was thinking and I thought it was great so we added singing mice to the story,” she said. “She thinks of things that I don’t.”

The cover of “Bella and the Queen’s Ponies”
Back cover of “Bella & the Queen’s Ponies”