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Guest Author - Britta Teckentrup

Britta is the author and illustrator of many well-loved books for children, including the bestselling 'The Memory Tree', 'The Odd One Out' and 'Grumpy Cat', which was selected by the Booktrust's Bookstart scheme - 250,000 copies to be distributed to families throughout the UK.

Her awards include a nomination for the Deutscher Jugendliteraturpreis and a Special Mention at the Bologna Ragazzi Award.

Since 1993 Britta has written and illustrated over 80 children's picture books which have been published in over 20 different countries.

After 17 years in the UK - Britta now lives and works in Berlin with her Scottish husband, son Vincent and their old cat Oskar.

What inspired the story ‘Before I Wake Up’?

My work quite often develops in a quite subconscious way and on a very visual level.

Images and ideas start to emerge out of seemingly nowhere and I can’t always tell where the idea originated from or what inspired it.

It was the same with this book.

I started to create more and more images about a little girl living in the wild together with a menagerie of wild animals and beasts - nature seems to be a recurring theme in my work.

The girl is happy and content living in her world made up of darkness and light, a place where the imagination can run wild and where she feels at home and safe.

The idea of the dream, which is now the framework of ‘Before I Wake Up’, developed at a slightly later stage.

The artwork is beautiful, how would you describe your style of illustration?

My work is all based around collage, printmaking and digital collage.

I create a large selection of textured papers and shapes using hand-made printing techniques. I will then start creating my collages by hand which I scan into the computer to manipulate them further….

I guess that you could call it a combination of digital and hand-made collage.

Whose work inspires you and why?

Inspiration comes from many different places… I tend to admire people who are brave and have gone their own way. People who have developed a unique voice and way of seeing things because of it…

There are so many... but maybe Astrid Lindgren and Tove Jansson are two very obvious and big names that come to mind when thinking about children’s books.

I have recently re-discovered the landscapes of Munch and always really like the stories of Toon Tellegen.

You’ve illustrated over 80 amazing children’s picture books do you have a favourite and why?

Many of the books are special to me in different ways and it is very hard to pick a favourite. But some books are a bit more personal than others: ‘The Memory Tree’ is special to me because I wrote it after the death of my beloved grandmother…

‘Before I Wake Up’ is special because it has been a part of me for so long. And sometimes I wonder if the little girl is me…

Do you have a special place that you write/illustrate in?

The best place to illustrate is in my studio at home …

I also write in my studio but a good place to get ideas is on long train journeys and in the bath…

Do you have any advice for budding writers/artists?

Try to stay true to yourself and find your own unique voice…

Write and create for yourself and not for others…

Be patient and persistent…

Don’t let a bad experience or rejection hold you back…

Listen to advice along the way but be aware that not all advice is good advice…

Embrace mistakes…

Work hard and just get on with it …

But most of all: Love what you do!

Can you sum up ‘Before I Wake Up’ in 3 words?

Dreamy, dark, atmospheric


Thanks to Britta Teckentrup for taking time out of her busy schedule for this exclusive guest author interview!

You can find out more about Britta and her work at her website: and on

Twitter: @Bteckentrup.