ORIGINALLY from Seattle, children’s author and illustrator Sarah McIntyre moved to Devon from London around 18 months ago and since has fallen in love with the people, the landscapes, and the community.
She was charmed by Devon when comparing drawings with her then-friend and now co-author Phillip Reeve.
‘I tried to put a drawing on my blog every day, even if I didn’t like it, as a challenge,; she said. ‘Phillip was getting these gorgeous Dartmoor landscapes, and I was used to drawing cities. So, I started going into Greenwich Park and we would compare pictures.’
After being invited to visit them in Dartmoor for a sketching holiday, she moved in with Phillip and his wife until she and her husband permanently moved to Bovey Tracey a year ago.
‘Here in Bovey, I love drawing the scenes of where I love and of people doing things.
‘There are so many interesting things to draw, and it kills me that I can’t clone myself to draw everything.’
She has also found an unusual hobby and community in her village: bell ringing.
‘I love it; it’s totally niche and has nothing to do with my normal job.’
She is enchanted by the history of bell ringing and loves drawing the medieval churches around where she lives.
‘I run through the church and look at everything. At the Bovey Tracey Craft Festival there was a guy who does the carvings still in the same style.
‘I like carrying on traditions, that is why I love the bell ringing.’ The group has allowed her to find a passion away from her job.
‘Coming here and meeting people has been really refreshing, for me the best thing about Devon is the community.’
Sarah has been extremely involved with the community where she lives since moving there.
Her studio is in Bovey Tracey and is hosted by Bovey Paradisio – of whom she sings praises and is hosting a stall with at Lustleigh Village Show on August 28. She also is a patron of reading at Chagford Primary, and she and Phillip are patrons of The Bookery in Crediton.
‘The connections of a bookshop are so important. To own a book that an author has chosen to be dedicated to them is such a big thing for some kids. It’s not just like an online vendor; people can go in and get specific recommendations and the staff can help.
‘It’s curated and they put things on display that they think people will really like not what they’ve been paid by publishers to – it’s much more genuine. They do these school events, so kids who would never think about walking into a bookshop get contact with authors and learn about reading and writing.’
She also has hosted a Unicorn Party for her book Grumpycorn at Bovey Tracey Library, who she says have been ‘really supportive’ of her work.
She takes creative inspiration from her readers whilst encouraging them to funnel their ideas into work of their own. ‘I love the way kids draw, they don’t edit themselves, I often will get ideas from their drawings.
‘They give me ideas for my next book, and I tell them they can do it themselves; a book can be very small.
‘An author is someone who has finished a book, and to finish a book, make it short! So, a piece of paper folded is a book, if you can do that, you’re an author!’
Sarah is everything you would expect from the author of her books: she is fun, colourful, and smiley.
She said: ‘My readers have taught me to be fun. Books that are funny and inspire laughter are important, they don’t always have to be serious.
‘That makes kids love to read and that’s what is important. They will learn more in the long run.’
Her new book, Adventure Mice: Mice on the Ice, features an ode to the people she has met in Bovey Tracey and her new found hobby.
Showing me an illustration of her mice exploring the mechanics of bell ringing at the front of the book, she said: ‘I have something really exciting...there is a piece of the bell ringers in my next one.’