I am scanning all the illustrations for my next book The Beetle in the Tree. When all the images have been turned into digital files and are ready to send to the publisher, I realise that I will soon be done with my part of the work with the book. All that remains is to decide where the images should be located in the text. And it’s essential to get it right! When I was little I was immensely disturbed by the fact that illustrations were sometimes placed wrong in the text and showed what you had already read about the previous page. “Sloppy!” said young Mattias.

I’ll also narrate the book when I’m done with everything else. I’m looking forward to it! Nowadays, when my children are adults, I have no one to read aloud to. But recording an audiobook is almost the same thing. Although I can also imagine myself as a listener.

It’s nice to work at the computer as we do today – put the original image in the scanner, scan, edit the image and then take it out of the scanner.  To see how my folder of illustrations grows, there are now twenty-three. The work takes time, can’t be rushed and that’s nice. I can listen to Ludovico Einaudi’s fantastic music and look out over a rainy Dalsland while I am working. Today I don’t have to perform – it’s already done. Today I will only finish.

I found a sketch I made before working on the illustrations – a drawing of a souvenir from the Norwegian town of Hamar. It is bent and has a few creases as if it had been in someone’s back pocket. In The Beetle in the Tree, Algot finds his grandfather’s memory box as he misses him. At the bottom of the old cigar box lies the memory of the Norwegian Hamar, but it was never mentioned in the text.

That particular detail had no role to play other than as one of several memory objects in the box. But I still think that it has played its part in the overall picture.

Algot and I know that grandfather has been to Hamar once, maybe with grandmother on a trip. There he bought a small photo package with ten black and white photos in it and put one in his back pocket. I think it is important to know such things about one’s character – whether they have been to Hamar or not.

– Mattias is an author and illustrator