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Meet the duo behind 'Crumbs' our new title to join Magic Mouse Books!

Wirral based but Halifax born, Vanessa Margetts is one half of the Crumbs brand. Having always enjoyed creative writing, particularly personalised poems and rhymes for friends and family and her blog, she has taken the jump into the world of children’s books.

Qualifying with a degree in Playwork and raising her three young boys has allowed her to interpret the world through the eyes of children and express this with her playful nature. To further develop her career and expertise she is pursuing a career in Counselling and Therapy, alongside volunteering for a local Mental Health Charity.

Favourite biscuit is a Chocolate Hobnob and yes, she dunks!

Michelle Miller is an Illustrator, Artist and the visual creator behind the Crumbs brand. She grew up on the Wirral peninsular and went on to study a BA(Hons) Graphic Design at Leeds Metropolitan University.

As a young child, Michelle could always be found hidden away drawing in a notepad, creating characters, doodling patterns and exploring her love of art. Shortly after completing her degree Michelle realised, she wanted to answer her own brief and as a result she travelled the world, gathering knowledge and inspiration. She has spent the last 15 years working with some of the best creatives across the fashion and retail sector. She is now Wirral based and lives with her partner, two children, two guinea pigs and spends as much time at the beach as possible.

Favourite biscuit is a Chocolate Chip Shortbread.

Illustrated by Michelle Miller Written by Vanessa Margetts

Vanessa Margetts

What inspired you to start writing?

I’ve always enjoyed creative writing. Over the years I have formed a bit of a tradition of writing poems and rhymes for family and friends at special occasions, for presents and generally to make them smile. I started my blog in 2017 after finding my Instagram captions becoming longer and slightly too philosophical for a humble grid post. The focus of that is around my experience as a mum to a child with a disability and allows me to write pieces that evoke emotion, which I find I naturally tend to do. Crumbs came about when Michelle and I were in work and, with the rest of the team, were admiring her illustrations of the biscuit characters. Knowing my love of writing someone suggested I write a story for them and there the world of Crumbs was born!

What book is currently on your bedside table?

After starting up a book club with my friends during lockdown I’ve a small back log of books I need to get through but currently reading 'My Sister the Serial Killer' by Oyinkan Braithwaite.

If you could meet your characters, what would you say to them?

As the main biscuit characters are of child age I’d say, ‘Be yourself, be kind and go on lots of adventures! And avoid any hot drinks!’

How long have you been writing?

The first time I shared any of my writing with people outside of my family (or school) will have been when I published my first blog in 2017.

What is your favourite book?

The book I’ve read in the shortest time was 'The Third Wife' by Lisa Jewell (what you can achieve with 24 child free hours!) but I think the book that has left a lasting impression on me and my current favourite is 'The Silent Patient' by Alex Michaelides.

What is your writing process like?

This is something I’ve struggled with as honestly, I don’t feel I have one. I just start writing, edit as I go then re-edit a couple more times once I’ve ‘finished’. A big thing for me is getting people’s opinions and their feedback. I did think this meant I wasn’t writing properly but I suppose everyone is different and (hopefully) the end product is just as good!

What do you need in your writing space to help you stay focused?

A laptop and a desk. I also need background noise, TV, music or people, but then I do need moments of quiet so I can speak the story aloud so I can hear the rhymes properly.

Are you a coffee or a tea-lover?

I used to only drink tea but since working in an office my morning coffee is now my most vital daily ritual, after brushing my teeth.

If you could choose a superpower, what would it be?

Less conventional; eating bread without bloating/putting on weight. Regular superpower would be invisibility- both meaning being seen less of haha!

What fictional place would you like to visit most?

Hogwarts because it’s magical and homely.

Which season is your favourite?

This is actually a really hard question because I love elements of all four seasons. If I were to be pushed for an answer I’d have to say Autumn.

What’s your favourite way to unwind after a busy day?

Sitting quietly on the sofa and switching off in front of the TV or my phone.

Are you a morning person or a night-owl?

100% a night-owl, terrible in the morning. Probably not helped by the fact I stay up too late.

What do you do to get inside your character’s heads?

I think my degree in Playwork and experience of working with children allows me to think like both the characters and the audience.

Where you would you love to travel to?

I’ve been twice before but I love New York. I feel homesick when I think about it and felt oddly at home when I first visited.

Michelle Miller

If you could meet your characters, what would you say to them?

I’d ask them all where they bought their shoes from, I love giving the characters funny little shoes to add to their personality.

What is your character creation process like?

I like to work in the evening when creating characters, on the sofa with my spiral bound notepad. Normally I pick a theme, so I have a bit of a list to hand and then I work my way through the list, drawing the outlines of the characters in fine liner. Then on a separate evening I will work in the same space with my watercolours, bringing each little person to life. It brings me real joy to meet them when they arrive on the page as they always look so friendly.

If you could spend a day with another popular author, who would it be?

J.K. Rowling, it would be so interesting to talk about where she finds inspiration.

What books do you enjoy reading? A real mix of fact and fiction depending on whether I want to learn or escape. Dan Brown, Philip Pullman, C.S. Lewis, Julia Donaldson, Mark Manson, Roald Dahl, J.K.Rowling.

What advice would you give a new illustrator, someone just starting out?

Practice, every day if you can. Set yourself a 30-day challenge to draw or paint something every day (even if you think it’s rubbish) and before long you will be able to see how your technique and speed improves and how your personal style is developing.

Who is your favourite Author/what is your favourite book?

Roald Dahl, his stories and word creation is so fun, he really paints a picture in your head and the fun and drama from each tale means you can read them again and again and never get bored.

What is the best part of your day? Getting up early in the morning and sitting in the garden with a cup of coffee, watching the sun come up and the birds in the garden.

What’s the best advice you’ve ever been given? By whom? "This too shall pass. When times are hard, it won’t last forever and generally you are learning valuable lessons." It helps me stay in the present moment and have gratitude for the small things in everyday life.

What’s your favourite way to unwind after a busy day? Walking on the beach and watching the sun set. I’m very lucky to live close to the coast and so we go to the beach most days.

Are you a morning person or a night-owl?

When I was younger, a night owl, now I have kids I love getting up early before everyone wakes up so I can ease into the day.

What did you want to be when you were a child? An artist, it’s always been my passion, I wanted to paint pictures and sell them by the river.

If you could choose a superpower, what would it be? To be magic, that way you could fly, appear somewhere, make a sandwich with the click of your fingers, the possibilities are endless!

What fictional place would you like to visit most? Narnia! And to meet Aslan, wow wouldn’t that be a treat.

Which season is your favourite? Summer, warm sun on your skin, the flowers are in bloom, the smell of freshly cut grass, everything feels easier.

What’s your favourite film of all time?

'Amelie', my first daughter is named after the film, it is such a visual feast, and the soundtrack is just beautiful.

'Crumbs is a series of children's books in which delicious little characters help children to understand their own feelings, social situations and supports them in developing their sense of self, as well as nurturing their wellbeing... Crumbs! Making life easier'


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