For Melbourne-based illustrator Megan Hess, a friendly little mouse called Claris is so much more than just a fictional character in a book. A fateful day in Paris saw her create the adorable white mouse as an ode to the city of lights, her love of fashion and above all else, her two children...
“I always hope that Claris connects with children firstly because of her size. Claris sees the world from the perspective of someone small and I think that’s just how little children feel – the world is sometimes very big and overwhelming. I wanted her to be confident to be herself and regardless of her size (and the fact that she’s wearing a couture dress), she is brave and not afraid to help someone in need. Claris is optimistic, kind and always willing to help someone in need. The books are for both girls and boys but I especially wanted little girls to know that it’s ok to love fashion, it doesn’t mean that you’re frivolous or silly. You can wear whatever makes your heart sing and still be a great person and conquer the world!”
There’s a lot to love about the adventures of Claris (her second book, Fashion Show Fiasco, has just hit shelves and explores the notion of Claris following her fashion dreams to Paris), and the sentiment behind it certainly goes beyond the frills and frivolity of couture dresses. We loved stepping inside Megan’s colourful and artistic world which is not only filled with unashamed escapism but also relatable and grounding truths relating to motherhood, work and the life-changing practice of transcendental meditation. Keen to hear more? On y va!
Go to www.meganhess.com
“ About six years ago, I made a life-changing decision. It was to actually work much less and focus on only projects that brought me joy, regardless of the financial outcome. Ironically, it improved my business tenfold. This made me realise that focusing on what actually makes you happy is always the right direction. This also affected my family life - because I wasn’t stressed all the time, I was a happy person and that transferred to my children ”
We (and our children!) adored your first Claris book about the most chic mouse in Paris. What inspired you to create this story?
Thank you! That means the world to me. I had always wanted to create a children’s book and it was on a trip to Paris many years ago that the idea first came to me. I saw a tiny little white mouse scurry across a Paris rooftop from my hotel balcony and I thought… ‘How fabulous to live in Paris even if you are only a tiny little mouse!’ I then immediately imagined what her chic apartment might look like and then I imagined all the little couture dresses she would wear! and all the adventures she could have.
Have you always been interested in writing as well as illustration? What prompted you to move beyond illustrations?
It was really just the story of this character that inspired me to write. After reading to my own children for so many years, I knew that I loved reading stories that rhymed and I longed for a book that was also fun for mums and had that fashion element as well. Creating a story around this little character is honestly the most fun I’ve ever had on a project.
Can you tell us about your second book - Fashion Show Fiasco?
In the first Claris book, she was fulfilling her dream of making her way to Paris and she met her best friend, Monsieur the cat. Now that she has her chic little Parisian apartment, she is ready to go on a big fashion adventure like no other – to Paris Fashion Week! This story takes her through the beautiful streets of Paris, she meets new friends and finds new challenges along the way.