Helen and Ian Friel

Helen and Ian Friel

Today on the blog, we’re introducing LKP Children’s author-illustrator team, Helen and Ian Friel – a dynamic father-daughter team who have created one of our most intriguing books of the year; the ingenious and immersive puzzle adventure, Hoakes Island.



Hi Helen, Hi Ian! 

Let’s get going. Can you describe your book in no more than 5 words?

Helen: A fiendish puzzle adventure!

Ian: Delve. Deliberate. Decipher. Discover. Defend!


Sounds mysterious… can you tell us about the particular inspiration behind your book?

Ian: The ideas for the book, the puzzles, and of course, the pictures, came from Helen, and we worked together to develop the story and characters. I particularly enjoyed writing the spoof newspaper stories and ads, as well as inventing some of the daft names.  Anti-Fart Powder, anyone?



Helen, what is your favourite thing about being an illustrator?

Seeing the pictures in my head printed and bound together in a book.


Where is your favourite place to find inspiration or illustrate?

Helen: I like working in cafés, it’s nice to be surrounded by people (and good coffee!)



Ian: I’m lucky enough to have a small building at the bottom of the garden where I can write, ‘the Studio’. It’s built on top of an air-raid shelter from the Second World War! This (below) is part of the view I have when I sit down to write in ‘the Studio’. And no, the name’s not pretentious, because it was built as a small music rehearsal studio. And yes, I do know it’s a bit of mess, but thank you for pointing that out…



If you could take a long train journey with any writer or artist, living or dead, who would it be – and where would you go?

Helen: I’d like to take a train journey with Judith Kerr. I’ve always admired her work and I’d take pencils and paper to ask for some drawing tips! I love long train journeys and it would be fun to take the train from London to Edinburgh.

Ian: It would probably be Patrick O’Brian, author of the best historical novels about the sea ever written. Sadly, he is no longer with us, but his work lives on.

Who or what made you into a reader? Can you remember a specific book or moment?

Helen: My Mum and Dad made me into a reader. Our house has always been full of books (my Dad has a whole room with books floor to ceiling). One of my bedtime stories was the Lord of the Rings.

Ian: I can certainly remember the excitement of learning to read. The book that probably most influenced me as a child was C S Lewis’s The Lion, The Witch and the Wardrobe, and I still think that it’s magical.  Great title, too.



Do you have a regular writing/ drawing/ reading routine?

Helen: When I start a book I write lists and lists of questions to myself – why is that character doing that? How did they get there?

Ian: When I’m researching and writing history books, I just put in a normal working day. It’s different when I write fiction, because one idea tends to spark off another, and then I’ve no notion how long it will take – or perhaps even where it will lead…



And finally, what one piece of advice would you give to someone who wants to start writing their own stories, or creating their own art?

Ian: Don’t be scared to give it a go – there is nothing to be afraid of!


Thanks for joining us on the blog today, dynamic father-daughter creative duo Helen and Ian Friel!

Why not watch the Hoakes Island trailer below…



You can also see a sneak peek behind the scenes at LKP Children’s here where our editor, Chloë, describes the journey of Hoakes Island from acquisition to publication! 

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