We are thrilled to be speaking with Chris Dixon on “Galaxy-Boy Delivery”, an accomplished author and illustrator who has overcome his own battle with depression to write a powerful children’s book, “That’s Okay”.
Drawing on his own experiences, Chris has crafted a heartfelt story that helps children understand and cope with their own emotions. His work has been praised for its ability to resonate with readers of all ages, and has been hailed as a valuable resource for parents, teachers, and mental health professionals alike. In this interview, we’ll talk with Chris about his journey, the inspiration behind his work, and how he hopes to make a difference in the lives of young readers. So, let’s get started.
What makes your work different?
I think because I am the illustrator and author, it’s a different creation to other books out there. It’s less story-focussed and more like a colourful and fun guide book for children.
With a focus on mental health, I wanted to help children to identify how various emotions may feel. For example, when you’re upset you might have a headache or want to cry.
By providing reference points to physical feelings of emotions, I hope that children can relate, learn and communicate about what’s on their mind. The end result is for more emotional awareness. This way parents or those who work with children can open up helpful conversations
Who is your support team for your work?
It’s just me so I do everything from illustration to publication! I am a freelance marketer so that comes in handy so I’m able to create websites and try different things to get the book out there.
It still makes it a challenge to promote ith that experience. I’ve had great feedback and over 4,000 downloads of the free version to date but it has taken a lot of work to get to this stage. But I will keep going!
At the moment, I use a print on demand service to help me produce the books. Outside of the work itself, my family and friends have been very supportive, helping to spread the word and offer feedback.
I also came up with the idea as a result of therapy. So that has been a fantastic channel for support too.
Where do you usually work? Home studio? Study room? Cafe?
Usually at home with music on. It’s nice to have some background noise and it helps me focus. My music taste is pretty varied and I haven’t found a specific genre that makes me more productive than the others.
But I think listening to different types of music can help with creativity itself. The different songs have either stories to tell or are weird and wonderful. It’s great to hear the human mind producing so many unique things and can be motivational!
List 3 books that inspire you!
- Romance of the Three Kingdoms – This was an epic romantacised history book about ancient Chinese dynasties. It was a big book! But I enjoyed it a lot, it had so many characters. Each adventure was fascinating. I found it captivating
- The Hobbit – This magical adventure book was one of the first I read as a child. It really came to life in my mind.
- Mr Men and Little Miss – I liked the style of these when I was a child. And I feel that it inspired how the That’s Okay book turned out. The use of the white space on the pages is something that stuck with me – it made the characters stand out. They were always great fun to read.
What are some worlds you’d like to explore in fiction?
I like fantasy worlds. I’m currently writing a fantasy book for an older audience. I’ve finished the first draft and it’s 130k words! I’m now going through it and making plenty of changes.
I’ve always wanted to create a fictional world that draws on elements of reality. Rather than these elements just serving as story mechanics, they also highlight (I hope!) issues that impact us in real life.
For example, the novel is based on a similar issue to climate change. I want to try and create a gripping story which draws parallels on the struggles we face as a society. Hopefully this will raise awareness in a unique way.
In regards to the children’s books, I’m currently looking at a similar guide book style for climate change. I’ll be using the same style of colourful creatures that I have for That’s Okay. But I would like to look into illustrating stories too.
What’s your favorite tool to create with? Pencil? Digital? Typewriter? Computer?
I like drawing with an ink pen, but lately I have been using Adobe Illustrator with a mouse on my laptop. I have used pencils before but I’ve never been big on planning.
I take a possibly controversial approach to drawing by using a pen straight away. Instead of sketching out frameworks and skeletons for the characters in faint pencil, I take the pen and just start drawing whatever comes to mind. I think you can get a lot more detail with a pencil.
But I like the style of the ink pen. Lately I’ve been using my laptop to create drawings. With the pen, I kept making mistakes I couldn’t erase. Sometimes I would be able to turn the mistake into another part of the drawing. However, that wasn’t always possible.
With Adobe Illustrator, I can go back whilst maintaining a similar style to the pen drawings. I also have more control as I can curve lines precisely and draw points. It helps with the colouring in because I can create cool gradient effects for the characters.
How do you create characters?
I have always been fortunate to have quite an active imagination. I draw what comes to mind. They rarely have any rationale behind them! It’s quite a spontaneous process where I’m expressing what’s in my imagination at that time.
I love the creative freedom that you can get through art. It helps me create unstructured characters which tend to look unique. Sometimes I’ll draw two or three versions of a character before deciding which one I like best.
What types of stories do you want more of personally?
I would like to see more stories that tie things that impact people in real life into fantasy universes. I believe that stories can help children develop key skills. As well as English skills, I think stories help with critical thinking as well as emotional and social awareness.
By using stories that highlight real-life issues, children can better understand the challenges we face as a society, without terrifying them! I think this can help their emotional resilience and could inspire them to go into great careers that change the world for the better.
What was your first picture book, comic, etc?
I used to read Sonic the Comic, when I was a kid, which featured Sonic the Hedgehog (who was my favourite character growing up). I remember drawing one of the characters in the comic as a pirate and sending it in, but it didn’t get featured unfortunately!
Who inspired you as a kid?
I would say my parents. I’ve been fortunate to have my mum and dad who have supported me through my life. Even when I’ve misbehaved, they never lost patience with me. They both work hard to care for my sister and brother and I.
The older I’ve got, the better my relationship has become with them. So they still inspire me as an adult! My second inspiration was Sonic, until I had to do cross-country at school and realised the running part was a lot harder than it looked.
What did you want to be when you grew up?
When I was younger I wanted to create computer games. I have given it a slight go but find it time consuming!
I did a computer science degree, but really struggled with the programming. I would like to make an indie game soon, so I’m hoping to learn to be better at programming.
I’d like to create a digital colouring book version of That’s Okay. So that’s on my list of projects! That could be the first step into game and app development.
What can All Ages of Geek do more for the kid lit world? What do you want to see us do?
As much exposure for indie book creators as possible. There are many celebrity authors out there which overshadow children’s book authors. Parents tend to buy from big names, so it makes it harder for independent authors who have high-quality material available for children.
More exposure for independent authors to help children get a broader range of literature would be great.
I also like the video game playthroughs. I think there is a crossover between gaming and story-telling. Maybe some more items on how kids can get into story writing for games and their own books would be cool. Or how video games are good for development.
Video games were a big part of my life growing up. I was lucky to have a Mega Drive, which is when I became a big Sonic fan (I was always drawing pictures of the blue hedgehog). Final Fantasy 7 is my favourite game of all time, and I think it tells a good story about issues related to climate change like the book I’m writing.
What do you think about All Ages of Geek? Who do you think we should interview next? Any creators you want to give a special shout out to?
I like the channel a lot! I think the range of different topics makes it accessible for a broad range of people with different interests. I also think the fun and vibrant themes and animations make it stand out against other channels.
Where can people find your work online?
They can buy physical copies of the book, as well as audio, digital and colouring versions, online.
If anyone would like to try a free version of the That’s Okay digital book, please email me at [email protected]
Thank you for joining us for this enlightening conversation with Chris Dixon. We hope you found it as inspiring as we did, and that you’ve gained a deeper appreciation for the creativity and hard work that goes into writing and illustrating books for children. Be sure to check out Chris’ latest book, That’s Okay, and keep an eye out for his future projects. We can’t wait to see what he comes up with next!