Interview with Illustrator Courtney Huddleston

1) Tell us a little bit about yourself. How did you get into writing/illustration?

My name is Courtney Huddleston, and I illustrate children’s books for a living. Like so many others, I’ve had a fascination for good art and writing, since childhood. I was never the best at either, but countless hours of practice mixed with persistence, eventually lead to me becoming a professional. 

2) What inspired you to work on these books?

Whether it’s a kid in class daydreaming or a professional writer, everyone has ideas. I’m no different than either, and Audrey’s Magic Nine happened to be my latest idea. I started with the idea of bringing hand puppets to life. From there, I listed as many stories as I could in today’s pop culture with a similar vibe. Jim Henson’s creations, Bill Watterson’s Calvin and Hobbes, and Pinocchio are just a few that I listed. I tried to steer my story as far away from those iconic stories as much as I could, in hopes of putting a different spin on an old idea. And, that’s how Audrey’s Magic Nine came to be. 

3) What theme or message do you hope readers will take away from your books?

I didn’t initially try to establish a message or theme when I came up with this story. I was focused mainly on making it as unique and entertaining as possible. That said, the protagonist is a genuinely kind and selfless person from start to finish, despite having many  physical, mental, and emotional obstacles in front of her. 

4) What drew you into this particular genre?

As an elementary school teacher, my wife has no shortage of stories to tell. One of the more recurring stories is how much graphic novels motivate her students to read. Combine that with the fact that I’m a life long comic book lover, and the rest is history. 

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5) If you could sit down with any character in your books, what would you ask them and why?

I would sit down with Asa from Audrey’s Magic Nine, because he’s just one of the coolest characters I’ve had the honor of creating. But I wouldn’t ask him anything, because as his creator, I know the answer to any question I ask him. I’ve never been asked this question, but it made me feel very powerful for a moment. Ha. 

6) What social media site has been the most helpful in developing your readership?

Audrey’s Magic Nine was a webcomic before it went to print. The webcomic had a more followers than any of the social media outlets. 

7) What advice would you give to aspiring or just starting authors/illustrators out there?

As cliche as my cliched answer may sound, the answer is to be persistent. The internet has leveled the playing field, making it easier to showcase your work, connect with publishers and agents,research industry trends, and much much more. All you have to do is always try to improve and never give up. 

8) What does the future hold in store for you? Any new books/projects on the horizon?

I recently wrapped up Book 3 of Audrey’s Magic Nine, and it will soon go through the editing stages. I am also doing freelance work for another kids book series, while developing a new story that I plan to share in 2019. 

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Audrey’s Magic Nine Book One: The Pencil and the Fuzzy by Michelle Wright, Courtney Huddleston (Illustrator), Tracy Bailey (Illustrator), Francesco Gerbino (Illustrator) Review

One young girl’s journey to finding a forever home turns into a mission to save a far away land in author Michelle Wright’s children’s book/Graphic Novel, Audrey’s Magic Nine Book One: The Pencil and the Fuzzy. Illustrated by Courtney Huddleston, Tracy Bailey and Francesco Gerbino, this one of a kind story delves into themes of adoption, family, acceptance and everyday heroism.

I received a free copy of this book in exchange for a fair and honest review. All opinions are my own. 

One young girl’s journey to finding a forever home turns into a mission to save a far away land in author Michelle Wright’s children’s book/Graphic Novel, Audrey’s Magic Nine Book One: The Pencil and the Fuzzy. Illustrated by Courtney Huddleston, Tracy Bailey and Francesco Gerbino, this one of a kind story delves into themes of adoption, family, acceptance and everyday heroism. Here is the synopsis.

The Synopsis

The story follows a young orphan named Audrey who goes on a quest to help her newly discovered friends unravel an enchanted mystery. Armed with a pencil, sketchbook, and some surprisingly unexceptional magical help, Audrey and company will embark on many whimsical adventures and escapades to reach a mysterious realm beyond her artistic imagination.

The Review

This was a phenomenal book to read. From the beautiful artwork and hardback cover design to the emotional tale of a resilient young girl surviving the terrible conditions of the foster care system to find herself a true family, this book had it all. From adoptive parents with good intentions but flaws that overshadow their intentions for their newly adopted daughter, to a magical world filled with monsters, magical beings and heroes who find themselves banished to our world in the form of puppets, this book truly captured the creative spirit of both children’s books and comic books. 

The blend of real world stories of growing up as a child and finding your footing in a new home with the fantasy driven world of magic and monsters really brought this story to life. Audrey is a fantastic protagonist to follow as you see her take on life’s struggles in stride. Using her creativity and courage she goes on perilous missions to help the stranded nine individuals from another world and find a way back to their home. The imagery of course is splendid, bringing to life the humor and heart of a true comic book tale. 

The Verdict

This is a must read novel. Filled with heart, humor and magic, this is the perfect read for young kids and young adults everywhere. A fantastic beginning to what promises to be a magical and awe-inspiring series, this novel will surely capture the hearts and imagination of young readers everywhere. Be sure to grab your copy of Audrey’s Magic Nine Book One: The Pencil and the Fuzzy today.

Rating: 10/10

Perfect for holiday gifting – Buy Online, Pick-up at your local Barnes & Noble store within an Hour!