Jan shared that her interest in art started at school and was interested in a mix of art and wildlife. Following this, “I went to art college and then I got some graphic jobs, illustrating for wildlife and botanical books. I started a family and then I went into teaching and then I have to say this is me getting back into it.”

Jan moved from Bulgaria to the picturesque mountains of Lousa, which is a half an hour drive to Coimbra, where she told me “The wildlife is brilliant and that she feels much safer here and that up in the mountains with her cats it is very beautiful, and that it has been overall positive experience, with the Portuguese being genuine people.”

Bucket list

Regarding the inspiration for her book, she explained that “It has always been on my bucket list to do a children’s book and the inspiration comes from my father, he was a massive wildlife enthusiast and he used to read me a lot of books so I suppose it really came from him. My son won the world pipe band championships in 2015 so he also inspired me.”

Jan kindly shared a short synopsis of the humorous tale “Madness and mayhem in the Scottish Highlands when an evil wildcat, Fee Fee Facherty, steals the smile from little Bluebell, all the creatures of the Scottish Highlands join forces to make something so special and so loud, surprising new friendships are formed and harmony is found in that beautiful land.” She then affirmed that “It is a story for all ages and that the 100 different species of wildlife and flora are accurately drawn which makes them easy to spot.”

Educational and fun

We also spoke about her aim for this fun book, where she told me she believes this educational book could be enjoyed by young Portuguese children learning English and that as a former teacher, she believes it would make for a good teaching aid due to all the species of flora and fauna you can find in the book which is important for children to learn about. Additionally, she would like the Scottish Education system to have it in the curriculum for primary schools, which they have interest in so she hopes that is something to come.

Most wonderfully, Jan will be doing her first exhibition from the 8 April, running for at least six weeks at charming Place Gois Kitchen & Bar which is “run by a lovely pair of Scottish lads, which does bistro food as well as vegetarian options, located right by the river (https://www.facebook.com/PlaceGois ).” The small mixed media exhibition will have wildlife and abstract landscapes pieces and you will also be able to purchase a copy of her book.

Regarding the future, “Jan would love to meet other artists and has noticed that in Portugal there is an exciting growing food culture with classy restaurants whereby she is hoping to make her mark with innovative still life paintings combining the old classic oil painting style with some natural wildlife humour and would love to have clients to do this for.” Please email Jan Hannah at janhannah@live.co.uk to discuss this further or alternatively to order a copy of “The Tootle-Hooter and Bluebell’s Stolen Smile” which is sure to delight young bookworms.