‘The Tale of the Vampire Rabbit’

After six months of writing and illustrating and four months of publishing my first book (really a short poem) has just been published… It has been a rollercoaster trip with many highs and lows, but now at last the book will be available from the 31st October 2020.

Instead of me writing my normal blog post…the press release for the book might be the best way of finding out more:

Murder, He Wrote (and illustrated…)

Michael Quinlyn-Nixon a North East of England artist has just finished publishing his first official book, featuring a unique poem and his detailed pencil illustrations. The book The Tale of the Vampire Rabbit has just been released on Amazon and Waterstones as well as being made available in a number of local booksellers.

The book, written in poem format, is a totally fictional and completely unhistorical account of the origins of Newcastle city’s mysterious grotesque the ‘Vampire Rabbit’ situated at Dean Street. Michael, who works in a college for three days a week, is also a qualified graphic designer and illustrator and decided at the beginning of the year that he was going to write and illustrate a book. With a number of ideas in mind, he was struck with inspiration when he gazed up at the Vampire Rabbit for the umpteenth time, having walked past it nearly every Friday morning for 2-years.

The story of the quirky Vampire Rabbit is brought ‘alive’ in the year 1899, with the tale concluding in the present day. Set initially in Victorian Newcastle the story illustrates the Vampire Rabbit’s unquenchable bloodlust and the consequences of its villainous actions. Suitable for older children (with parental guidance), the book can be equally enjoyed by adults who enjoy dark poems with a drop of humour…

Michael said, “When I am working away at the drawing board, I often watch repeats of ‘Murder, She Wrote’ and hear how the character Jessica Fletcher (known professionally as J.B. Fletcher) is working on a book. Perhaps Angela Lansbury’s character in the programme – a famous author and sleuth – has been the subconscious inspiration and motivation for doing my book. However, the last thing I want to do whilst promoting this book is solve any horrid crimes as I am very peace-loving and, it has to be said, squeamish!”

The book has taken a considerable amount of time to write and illustrate. Michael, said, “I started the book in January and finished it at the end of June, so it’s been quite an intense project and the last few days of continual proof reading was a bit heavy going, but on the whole it’s been a great experience. I am very proud of the area I live in and Newcastle is such a handsome city, so I wanted to include some of the quaint and amazing places the region has to offer, such as the Lit and Phil, St. Nicholas’s Cathedral and the bizarrely named Dog Leap Stairs. I’m hoping the book will be a success and bring some tourism to the region too”.

The Tale of the Vampire Rabbit is available online from the 31st October 2020 (Hallowe’en) at Amazon and Waterstones, but is also being stocked by a number of local booksellers. ISBN 978-1-83975-222-3

I was sent these amazing pictures of a Vampire Rabbit Jack o’ Lantern, which was created by Luke Doogan – a young man from Consett, County Durham, with the help of his mum, Lesley. I have to say a very big ‘well done’ to you both. That Vampire Rabbit is just so scary and terrific!

Rio – Dog Portrait

I can hardly believe this is my 100th blog post, how time flies!

It’s been a busy start to the year, which has seen me being fully occupied almost every minute. This is a good thing, in many ways, as the news is full of concerning headlines and it would have been more difficult for me if I hadn’t had things to keep me fully occupied.
Rio by Michael Quinlyn-Nixon for blogLast year, my friend, Mary Redshaw, requested me to do an illustration of her late pet – a beautiful greyhound, named ‘Rio’, whom she had obtained from a rescue centre.   Having re-homed Rio later in the dog’s life, Mary didn’t have a great deal of time to spend with her new greyhound, but that time was very enjoyable and special and Mary’s whippet,Tina, also loved her new companion.

They had some great times at Cullercoats beach and Mary has some stunning seascape photographs of the wonderful times they spent up there visiting Mary’s sister.

Illustrating black dogs can be a bit ‘tricky’ as very often there’s no shape or texture to the illustration; so to convey the beauty and the gentleness of the dog, as well as her texture, I made the drawing slightly more pastel, so the detail and expression can be seen. Mary is delighted with the pet portrait, which is now framed and displayed on the wall with all of Mary’s other beloved canine friends.

I always say the love of a dog is so unconditional; they don’t care what you look like or what you do for a living – they just show their belief and trust in you.

I think this is a very difficult time for all of us in our history and it is time now to have a belief and trust in each other at a time when it’s most needed.

A ‘Joyful’ Illustration

Whilst I was continuing my perpetual cleaning spree of my study, I unearthed this picture from my college days’ archive.  It is a coloured pencil illustration that was given to me circa 1997 by a friend and fellow student, Hazel Joy Shields, known to her friends as Joy.  I got to know Joy in my second year at College and what made the biggest connection between us was the fact that she was from the North East, (Blyth, Northumberland to be exact) and I was from Durham.
Joy's picturecompleteforblog
My nickname from my friends at Cumbria University of Arts was ‘Quiffer’ due to the wave-like quiff I had in those days and in this illustration Joy has drawn me with my distinctive hairstyle.  I am rather pleased that she has drawn my caricature as the wizard, (with the obvious power over the smoke-breathing dragon) and not one of the helpless knights quaking at the sight of it.  The knight in pink armour is my friend, Paul Drury, who hails from Huddersfield and the green-clad knave with the blonde hair is my friend, Andrew ‘Andy’ Smith from Wakefield.  I don’t know if either of the two Yorkshire lads will have seen this illustration or not before or whether it will be a surprise for them…

It was wonderful finding this illustration, still in perfect condition, amongst my papers, as it has brought back so many happy memories of my days of yore in Carlisle.  This cartoon illustration was done before the adventures of Harry Potter came into being, but maybe Joy had a bit of the foresight to see the potential in wizards, castles and knights in shining armour…