Maxine Sylvester


Maxine Sylvester

Maxine Sylvester

Action & Adventure, Humor, Children's

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  • Member Since

    Aug 2016

  • Gender


  • Country

    United Kingdom

  • Profession

    Writer, illustrator, Pilates Instructor


I was born in London but now live in Bali with my partner, Mark. I am an author and illustrator and self-published my first children’s book, Ronaldo: The Reindeer Flying Academy last December.
So how did a pizza loving Pilates instructor and self-confessed Disney- geek end up in writing a book in South East Asia? Maybe its best I rewind back to the 70’s and explain…
Back when The Bay City Rollers were topping the charts, I received my first tin of Caran D’Arche pencils. I loved art and it was my best subject at school. On Saturday afternoons I took private lessons with a lovely teacher called Pearl Lee. At school we practised still life and figure drawing but with Mrs Lee I discovered oils, pastels and Disney! She had a pile of Disney comics and I would paint the characters on to wooden plaques or do giant paintings. I developed a real love for ‘fun’ art but when the time came to leave school I couldn’t find a college that offered what I wanted. I therefore decided to abandon any thoughts of an artistic career and pursue my other passion – travel!
I worked as a holiday representative in Rhodes, Cyprus, Turkey and the Canary Islands, and then onboard cruise ships. During this time I was often called on to make birthday or leaving cards and I even decorated my cabin with cartoon characters. It soon became clear that although I loved travelling, work was a chore and not something I enjoyed.
I met Mark onboard and we decided to abandon life on the ocean waves and accept positions at a casino in Palestine. We lived outside Jerusalem in Israel and although it was a fascinating venture I spent all of my spare time drawing. I discovered The College of Cartoon Art, an online school run by four professional cartoonists; they offered the exact course I had always wanted to do. I studied after work and my tutor, acclaimed caricaturist, Steve Chadburn, was a fantastic teacher, harsh with criticism but very encouraging. Unfortunately due to unrest in the Middle East, Mark and I lost our jobs so we packed up and moved to Moscow
In Russia I started up as a freelance cartoonist and enrolled for a course in children’s book illustration. I illustrated a magazine cover and did some work on a few websites but just as I was getting going, I tore a disc in my back. Illustrating and long periods editing on a computer aggravated my condition, so after years of treatment, I sadly ended my art career and put my pencils away for good. (Or so I thought!)
After a stint living in Armenia, Mark and I invested in a scuba diving business in Bali. At this point my body seemed to go from bad to worse and my muscles were so stiff I could hardly get out of bed in the mornings. Then something changed my life - Pilates, a form of exercise that strengthens the muscles that support the spine. I practised at home to DVD’s and my quality of life improved so much I became an instructor.
Convinced this was my life’s purpose, I started teaching semi-private groups. I enjoyed watching people progress but after two years I began to feel that I still wasn’t reaching my true potential. One day I nervously took out my Caran D’ Arche pencils; I hadn’t drawn in ten years and although I was a bit rusty my ability was still there and I fell in love with art all over again, this time without pain as my body was stronger through Pilates.
I wanted a purpose for my drawing so decided to write a short story. I stole an idea from A.A Milne and picked out my favourite stuffed toy which happened to be a reindeer. I chose the name Ronaldo and thought it would be fun to send him to school, but not just any school - flying school!
Ronaldo: The Reindeer Flying Academy was originally intended as a picture book but I enjoyed the writing process so much that it grew in to a chapter book. I sourced an editor and prayed she wouldn’t laugh in my face and to my delight she wrote back and said she thoroughly enjoyed my story.
Ronaldo is a joy to work on and every day I bounce out of bed with enthusiasm. It has taken fifty years to reach a point in my life where I can say I love my job but I can happily say that I do and that it was worth the wait!

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