Inside the Inspiration for The Great Guinea Pig Adventures with Hollie Smith

November 24th, 2021
Hear all about author and illustrator Hollie Smith's inspiration behind eBook, 
The Great Guinea Pig Adventures!

I am Hollie; author and illustrator of The Great Guinea Pig Adventures (that feels so weird to type!). The inspiration for the book came from my love of guinea pigs (obviously), a lifelong desire to be a children’s book illustrator, and a need to document what we missed during lockdown. 

I had guinea pigs growing up, but it was ‘Gus’ that stole my heart. I had just graduated from Aberystwyth University, and had finally managed to convince my parents that what we really needed was a Guinea Pig. I chose the smallest and most sickliest guinea pig in the shop (unbeknown to me!) with the BIGGEST personality! He either didn’t believe he was a guinea pig, or simply refused to accept this ‘minor’ fact. He had his own armchair by the fire, he joined in with the dogs when they barked at the door and he would squeal, loudly, until he was either fed or held by someone. He hated sleeping in his cage so would lie next to me in bed, and he hated any boyfriend I introduced to him. He had his own Facebook page too. It was he and I against the world, and the idea of doing a book where he could live out his adventures was born. Afterall, he clearly didn’t feel limited by his species. 

When Gus passed away, Stanley, Chewy, Alfred, Luna and Oreo arrived, each with their own unique personalities. My guinea pigs helped me to feel less lonely during the lockdowns, and gave me a reason to get up. I would say they offered unconditional love, but I think we can all agree food is paramount to a guinea pigs happiness. Sadly, guinea pigs remain one of the most neglected pets and it was this statistic that saw me retrain as a Veterinary Nurse. Having now returned to the drawing board, so to speak, I would like the book to be seen as a gift, or a tribute, to guinea pigs.

Thelma, Louise and Derek (the stars of the book) are all rescue guinea pigs. Derek arrived at the same time as my partner, Ashley, and it was his poor attempts at ‘wooing’ the ladies that inspired me to draw again. ‘Dating with Derek’ was a series of doodles that documented the highs and lows of our new relationships, and helped me to refine the style that was to become The Great Guinea Pig Adventures.

I work in a traditional style because of my admiration for the artwork of Raymond Briggs. I will always remember becoming lost in the hand-drawn pencil marks of ‘The Snowman’ and of course, ‘Father Christmas’. I wanted to capture this in my own style, and hope that one day the guinea pigs could become as animated as they are in real life. 

The story for The Great Guinea Pig Adventures comes from the conflicting sense of anxiety and excitement many of us experienced when coming out of lockdown. I had tried to cut my own hair (and failed) during lockdown so I was looking forward to a good trim at the hairdressers. I was excited to see my family again (especially my young nephew) and take Ashley to a coffee shop, the art gallery and museum and music concerts. Ashley also wanted to show me (and teach me) the ‘great game’ of football. I would like to think if he and I were to have children, I could explain the lockdown to them through the eyes of their guinea pig ancestors. 

I would like The Great Guinea Pig Adventures to become a series that resonates with children and their families. It may give comfort to children in situations they perceive to be scary, like going to the hospital or a first day at school. 

…After all, if three guinea pigs can do it, anyone can.

Hollie and her guinea pigs can be found on Instagram and on her website.

The Great Guinea Pig Adventures

Today is no ordinary day for the lockdown is lifted and it's time to do all of the things that we haven't been able to do.

Join these delightful guinea pigs on their wild adventures around town! Will they be able to get back home in time before Mom and Dad notice?
Purchase eBook Here

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Tags: animals, ebook, guinea, guinea pig adventures, indie author, inspiration, partner publishing, pig, publishing, self published, guinea pig, how to, Illustration, inspiration, publishing, self publishing

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