My Secret Dog

My Secret Dog

32 pages / PDF & Printed Booklet

My Secret Dog is a book about a little girl and a dog she’s not allowed to have. It’s a fairly simple story about secrets, how fun they can be and also the price you pay for them.

My Secret Dog is suitable for all ages.

The Story

The idea for My Secret Dog came from my sister Lois. Knowing how much she wants to own a dog and is frustrated about the fact that a) she lives in a small flat in central London and b) her boyfriend doesn’t want a dog, it set me thinking about the lengths she might go to in order to get and keep a dog. The first draft was based more exclusively around her and featured an adult protagonist, who went to work and lived with her boyfriend. The first draft came out pretty easily, with most of the main story beats in place. 

After letting the story simmer on the back burner for a while, I figured that the main character should probably be a child. Although there was part of me that wanted to hold on to the adult protagonist, it felt like the right decision to make.

The Pictures

I wouldn’t call myself an
illustrator, but I’m reasonably pleased with the style of drawings in My
Secret Dog. There’s a cleanliness of line that I’m quite pleased with,
but I can imagine it might seem a little cold for a mass-market
children’s book. There were originally going to be lots more images, but
at a smaller resolution. As time went on, though, I realised that the
amount of effort going into the simple pictures meant that they might
warrant a slightly larger frame.

The images were made in Illustrator, which allowed me to utilise my favourite three words in the digital design lexicon (snap to grid) and also allowed me to re-use elements to make new compositions.

The Book

I originally thought of My Secret Dog as a Kindle edition, which might explain why it’s a children’s book without any colour. When it came to Lois’ birthday, though, I knew I needed to make a physical edition to give to her. It was in the process of doing this that the protagonist changed from a little boy to a girl, an obvious decision but one I didn’t reach until quite late on. The girl also went from a two-parent to a single-parent household as time went on, because I just didn’t have time to design a dad. As it turned out, though, this gave the book a more personal and relevant slant to me and Lois. Sometimes mundane practical considerations lead to artistically valid choices.

Printing was done on a Dell 1250c colour laser printer, with the pages manually duplexed. The first few versions (with the ultra-rare pink covers) had some shonky page alignment issues. After a bit of tinkering, the pages lined up almost perfectly and it became possible to make the booklets fairly quickly.

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