Ask The Author

Pam Smy

Thornhill

Why did you have some totally black pages?
West Buckland School Prep 4, Age 9

As Thornhill is made by telling two stories about two girls in two different ways, I needed some way of making it clear that the pictures and the words were separate, and were about two different people. Therefore we included black pages to make a 'break' between the two stories. However, since it has been out, some readers have commented that the black pages gave them a 'pause' between the two stories.

What was the name of the main shade of grey you decided on? And how many shades were used in total?
West Buckland School Prep 4, Age 9

I used three shades of grey paint. The lightest grey was called 'French Grey' the middle tome was called 'Mid Lead Colour' and the darkest grey was called 'Scree'. I also used black and white ink, and sometimes a Tippex pen.

Have you ever experienced any of the happenings that go on in your story?
Millie, 9

Luckily, no! I haven't been brought up in a care home, and I haven't ever been badly bullied. All the situations in the story are from my imagination. However in the newspaper articles I have hidden the names of my friends and family, and some of the objects in Ella's room are from my own house, so those bits are personal to me. Also I put my dog, Barney, in some of the drawings.

How did you get the inspiration for the illustrations in your book and how difficult was it to draw the illustrations?
Oliver, 11

The actual house of Thornhill was inspired by a house that I saw in my home town of Cambridge. It was boarded up and there were 'keep out' signs around it. It wasn't a scary house - I changed how it looked to make it more imposing, but it was based on a real place. The rest of the illustrations were from my imagination. There are 165 paintings in Thornhill, and, although I LOVED working on them it was very hard work. The painting itself wasn't difficult, but they did take a long time. Each one took me between 8 and 12 hours.