The Corporate Menagerie – What did you have to do to match the illustrations and verses to each of the characters, Tom?
Writing verse for each character involved a sort of three-dimensional thinking – first think of the characteristics of the creature character, then think of the real life person who, from your experience, matches that character (not essential but helpful), then think of the message that fits that character and importantly how you might relate to or manage that character.
The verse has to be typically appropriate e.g. a lively character demands a lively verse. It felt important to me to write different styles of verse because simply to write a whole book of four-line verse would be quite boring and, frankly, not very inspiring or unique. Once I had done all that I sent my verse and the matching creature to Jill Newton, my brilliant illustrator. I commissioned Jill because I did not want cartoons but illustrations and having seen her work I was delighted that she accepted. I have to say that, in the whole Book, which comprises sixty illustrations, I only ever had to send back two that I thought didn’t fit. Her interpretations are superb!