The wonderful Petr Horacek has written a special piece all about his favourite place to visit. Enjoy!
Every autumn I travel to the Czech Republic to spend a couple of weeks on my own in one of my favourite places in the world.
It is a cottage, which belongs to my friend David. He doesn’t live there; it is his holiday cottage and he lets me stay.
Meadows and woods surround the place. The cottage is right on the edge of the wood and has a small apple orchard with an amazing view over the countryside. To me, it is heaven. I spend time painting, walking through the woods and writing down ideas for picture books.
I was born and grew up in the Czech Republic, but I have lived almost half of my life in England. When I am in the Czech Republic, I am closer to my friends from my childhood and I am missing my family back in England. During the rest of the year, it is usually the other way around.
Being on your own for a certain period of time, you may start thinking about lots of things. Thoughts about where I belong, and what and where is home can be one of them.
In fact, it is not the first time that the subject of belonging, friendship and identity comes into my stories. I think it is a theme, which we all can identify with. Coming home after being away for some time, the strange feeling in your stomach is something we all know very well and we know it from our childhood.
I must also admit that The Best Place in the World is also a book about pictures. Right from the beginning, when I started to write the story, I was looking forward to doing the illustrations. I could see in my head the hare running through the orchard, the fields, the woods and the hills I know so well. I wanted the book to be as visual as possible.
I was almost wishing that the book could be in a bigger format and have twice as many pages. I just wanted to paint, and I enjoyed doing it. In my work, I get inspired by materials I am using: from graphite, colour pencils, wax crayons and watercolours to acrylics. I use the technique of collage and I don’t use a computer. I like working with possible accidents. Before I stick all the pieces onto the paper, I arrange everything very carefully, but once you pick up all the bits to glue them on, you lose the exact marks, things get shifted and these are the moments I like. These small accidents and corrections bring another dimension to your work.
It is a well-known fact that behind every good book is a good publisher and team of good editors. I must say big thank you to Denise Johnstone Burt and Louise Jackson, who were helping and working with me on The Best Place in the World. I hope the readers will like to read the book as much as I liked working on it.
- Petr Horacek
The Best Place in the World is available where all good books are sold!