Doraine Livingston is the designer for ‘The Mending Chronicles of Liam and Emily’. She lives with her family on the east coast of South Africa, in Kwa-Zulu Natal. She did the layout design, book covers and activity pages for the paperback and eBook versions of the The Mending Chronicles. Presently, she is working on the Afrikaans translation project.
You did the design work for the English version of ‘The Mending Chronicles of Liam and Emily’. Tell us about what other kind of creative work you do. Is design your main passion?
I’m an artist at heart and I paint mostly wildlife for my own pleasure. I had a season of painting wall murals for clients which was fun and rewarding. For example, I did an African waterhole with wild animals by someone’s pool area. Design work is a passion for me and I have done it for many years. I worked for a literacy company that did Children’s newspaper publications in South Africa. This job developed my ability to communicate creatively and do layouts that were engaging for kids. Presently, I help my husband with his business doing technical drawings, which is a different kind of creativity. Diving into ‘The Mending Chronicles’ has been a welcome creative outlet for me and I love the freedom and expression I experience while being in the design space again.
What were your thoughts when you first saw the manuscript of The Mending Chronicles? Was the vision you had for the book clear from the start or was it something that unfolded?
I clearly remember the moment I received the manuscript. I printed it out and went into my room and started reading. Oh, my word! My brain exploded with so many ideas! I became really excited and knew that every page of this book had to be engaging and interactive for children. I wanted to start straight away and sent the author, Natalie, a message asking for the green light – I needed to get stuck in! So, yes, it was a clear vision from the start for me. Natalie gave me complete freedom of creativity, but there was a lot of teamwork involved too. After I had laid out my initial ideas, Natalie and I would ‘digest’ it and work through subtle changes until we both said, “That’s perfect!”. The wow factor came when we were able to put the award sticker on the cover.
What have been some of the highlights of this project?
The big highlight for me was the freedom to do this project my way. Especially the ‘work it through’ pages, where the kids can engage and process their own thoughts and feelings. I also loved taking the illustrations that Mariaan du Plooy had painted and using effects on them to make them pop. Another highlight was getting involved in the proofing stage. We used professional proof readers from my previous company (the people who taught me so much), so the final draft was exceptionally polished. A wonderful highlight for me was working on all of this remotely, between Spain and South Africa. It has been amazing!
What have been some of the harder design parts?
I think every journey has its challenges and we have had our fair share. At one stage we had to change the page size of the project and I had to reshuffle everything. I smile now when I think back to that, it was part of the learning curve. Gearing up for the printing phase was difficult. I had to create exact files and if I did something slightly incorrect, I had to do it again. This is publishing – checking again and again! But mostly, it was fun.
You are Afrikaans, how did you feel about an Afrikaans version coming out? What’s it been like working in your mother tongue?
Yes, I am an Afrikaans “bokkie” and have been so excited for this new phase. To be honest, I was also a little apprehensive about the project. Fitting in all the longer Afrikaans words was always going to be a challenge, but now that I have started, the excitement and creativity have kicked in. Now I’m even thinking in Afrikaans again!
You and Natalie, the author, have known each other for a long time, what’s it been like working on a project together?
Yes, Natalie and I have known each other for ages. She was the person who reached out to me when I started going to church. It is a special friendship that I will always treasure. As life happened, we lost touch for a while but reconnected when she visited her family in my town. That’s when she told me about the book she was working on and I asked her if I could take a look at it. This has started the new chapter of our friendship and I love the teamwork aspect to our working relationship. It’s fun to look back at how our paths have come together again and I believe that God is using our talents to create a resource that that will help many hurting families. Including Afrikaans families now, which is very special for me.