The Creatives

As soon as Aunt Grizelda materialised in all her gothic glory, she began composing poems at an alarming rate and demanded I find an illustrator and publisher. What was I to do? I decided to present her rhymes to the world through social media and gauge the public’s response… Now, it may have been that the book gods took pity on me and intervened, or pure good luck, but the rhyme was noticed by a remarkable illustrator from Belarus, called Natallia Pavaliayeva. Natallia contacted me, saying she felt her style of illustration was a perfect match for Aunt Grizelda’s poems. And so they were. Hogs Back Children’s Books took on Aunt Grizelda, and much to our delight, both Treasury of Grim and Grisly Rhymes and Fairy Tales of the Unexpected were later selected by librarians for the Reading Agency’s Summer Reading Challenge – quite an achievement.

Sadly, by the time the third book in the series was proposed, Nat was overloaded with projects (as a university lecturer, writer, artist, and translator, she could never be accused of idleness!) and so a new illustrator was needed. Hogs Back Books set out to find the perfect replacement. And once again, the book gods were listening and presented another illustrator with wonderful gothic qualities – Marit Cooper. Though Nat and Marit’s styles are quite different in some ways, both brilliantly present the rhymes’ characters and narratives with witty and engaging images. Marit, originally from Sweden, is also a surface pattern designer and another string to her bow is website design and animation, for which Aunt Grizelda is extremely grateful! We know you’re going to love Marit’s illustrations for Monstrous Myths which vividly conjure up ancient Greece and the crazy cast of characters.
We hope you enjoy our combined efforts and if you’ve any questions about the writing or the illustrations, send us an email!

Anna Best

Anna Best, aka Aunt Grizelda, is Yorkshire born and bred, which has spoiled her for living anywhere else (although she’s tried a couple of times.) She became addicted to stories at an early age, and began telling her own, sitting on the teacher’s knee at Carr Green Junior and Infants’ School. (Miss Mitchell had exceptionally comfy knees for which Anna remains grateful.)

By taking English literature at Lancaster University, she sneakily combined study with enjoyment, and having gained her degree, taught English. For many years her free time was spent singing in bands, and writing songs – a useful apprenticeship in how to write rhyme and metre and wear daft clothes.

A visit to the Yorkshire Moors in 2013 resulted in a chance meeting with Aunt Grizelda, and since then the demi mortal has channelled her grimly funny verse through Anna’s pen, resulting in three volumes of ghoulish, gleefully grisly rhymes.

Anna has one grown up daughter, a grandchild, two step grandchildren, and lives in Calderdale, West Yorkshire with her husband and saluki rescue dog, Curious Iris.

Natallia Pavaliyeva

Born in Minsk, Belarus, Natallia Pavaliyeva is a writer, graphic artist, professor of English Literature at the Belarusian State University, and a translator of English and Swedish. Her art training was in the studio of Belarusian artist Vasily Sumarev and her work sells internationally. Natallia came across a video of Aunt Grizelda online and was inspired to contact Anna and offer her services as illustrator. Her quirky gothic style suited the rhymes and now grace the pages of Aunt Grizelda’s Treasury of Grim and Grisly Rhymes and Aunt Grizelda’s Fairy Tales of the Unexpected. As an illustrator she has also worked on numerous books by the acclaimed Russian writer, Olga Lukas. Natallia’s Ghost Stories collection won third prize in the annual competition run by Rosman Press, Russia’s leading publishing house for children’s literature.
To see more of her work please visit Instagram.

Marit Cooper

Born in Sweden with a crayon in her hand and an insatiable curiosity, Marit Cooper embarked on a lifelong journey to capture the boundless treasures of the imagination in colour and line. Each illustration serves as a portal to a place where stories come to life, where mythical creatures frolic in enchanted forests, and where the mundane is tinged with a touch of magic. Her work is inspired by medieval bestiaries and Renaissance illuminated manuscripts.
Her mother used to read shortstories by Ray Bradbury to her and nurtured a love in her for all things Autumnally Spooky from an early age.

Marit currently lives the heart of England in a Victorian redbrick house with her husband and two cats, where she works as an illustrator and designer out of her cosy little studio.
You can find her website here -> Portfolio