The artwork from Kylie Dixon’s book series The Magical World of Mushroom Marvellous served as the inspiration for one of the dishes created on the BBC cooking show, Great British Menu.
The episode, which aired in January, celebrated England’s illustrators and authors and saw some of the north-east and Yorkshire’s most accoladed professional chefs cook up whimsical fine dining straight out of children’s literature.
Michelin-star Northumberland chef Cal Byerley won over judges and fellow competitors alike with his starter ‘The Magical World of Mushrooms’, which was inspired by the loveable mushroom characters in Kylie’s book, Inkcap & The Blight of The Bonnets.
Kylie, from Seaham, has now released three children’s books – Inkcap & The Nethers, Inkap & The Blight of the Bonnets and most recently, Inkcap & The Agaric Circle, which she officially launched last week (16 April 2023) at Seven Stories, The National Centre for Children’s Books in Newcastle.
Kylie, who graduated from the University in 2015 with a degree in Fine Art, said: “It was always my dream to have a trilogy of books and after the success of my second book being chosen as inspiration on the Great British Menu, it spurred me on to achieve this dream.
“Having my third book launch at Seven Stories was the absolute icing on the cake. Being recognised as a successful children’s author in such a prestigious venue was incredible.”
Kylie’s stories are set in her dad’s allotment where a secret world of mushroom characters who, led by hero Inkap, embark on magical adventures helping the vegetables to survive.
“I’m very passionate about opening up children’s minds to a magical world they can escape to,” Kylie, 42, said.
“I’ve been inspired by the characters and scenes from The Chronicles of Narnia my whole life, so there is always an element of fantasy involved.
“I also want to encourage children to embrace the natural environment and the setting of the allotment makes the story very real for the reader. It’s filled with nostalgia, friendship and adventure.”
After 18 years of working in a bank, Kylie decided to walk away from the role in 2019 and pursue her passion for creativity.
Inspiration struck when she went walking through a forest in Seaham and came across a clearing filled with thousands of tiny mushrooms. It was then her online art business Mushroom Marvellous was born.
Kylie explained: “I found out that in old English folklore spotting mushrooms in the wild is a symbol of positivity, new beginnings and hope, so I started adding tiny mushroom illustrations to my paintings – a bit like a signature. That’s how it all started and why I’m obsessed with mushrooms.”
Then when the COVID-19 pandemic hit, Kylie decided to take another creative plunge and write her first children’s book.
Kylie said: “During lockdown I had to use my transferable skills to look at other ways of bringing money in but also to support others who were home-schooling, which is when I started hosting online art activities. Eventually, people started to tell me I should write a children’s book. The rest, as they say, is history.”
Kylie’s first book, Inkcap & The Nethers, which she wrote, illustrated and produced, was a sell-out success.
Professor Kevin Petrie, Head of the School of Art and Design at University of Sunderland, said: “It’s wonderful to hear about Kylie’s success with her books. She offers a great example of how Sunderland creative graduates go on to enrich the world with their work”.
For more information on Kylie Dixon and how to buy her books visit www.magicalworldofmushroommarvellous.com