Nicki Greenberg’s new picture book I’m Fabulous Crab! is a vibrant underwater story all about wearing your true colours with pride. We caught up with Nicki to find out how this very special book came to life.

I’m Fabulous Crab! is just gorgeous – where did your inspiration come from?
I have always loved sparkles and glitter and dressing up, so this was a big part of my inspiration for I’m Fabulous Crab!. Fab Crab was also very much inspired by the spectacular drag performers of RuPaul’s Drag Race, and the even-more-extravagantly colourful creatures of the Great Barrier Reef. I could just imagine a little hermit crab wanting a piece of that sparkle action to express his inner fabulousness. Dressing up can be such a liberation, and so much fun!

How did you go about illustrating this sparkly spectacular?

Illustrating I’m Fabulous Crab! was a very complex, very time-consuming challenge. I did a lot of visual research to develop the crab characters, and to select and draw the many fish, molluscs, corals and other reef creatures that appear in the book. After the crabs themselves, the shark was the hardest to get right!

I used loads of different references: my own shell collection, pieces of jewellery, lots of photographic books about the Great Barrier Reef (fringed with LOTS of post-it notes!), photos that I took at the Cairns Aquarium and my own impressions from a snorkelling trip on the Reef (during which I was horribly, disgustingly seasick). The drawings themselves were done in Photoshop, using a combination of hand-drawing and digital colour and collage.

What do you hope readers will take away from the book?
I hope readers of I’m Fabulous Crab! will join in with the book’s joyous enthusiasm and be inspired to feel their own kind of fabulous, whatever that might be.

Tell us about your special crocheted sea creatures!
I started crocheting about six years ago with one aim in mind: to make a whole lot of mushrooms. Not sure exactly why, but I now have more than fifty of them!

A year or so later, I was inspired to experiment with making a crochet squid. It was so much fun, and so adorable, that I was hooked. I’ve now made more than twenty-five oddball squids, octopuses and cuttlefish and a lot of oysters (and their colourful cousins, the ‘joysters’), mussels and jellyfish, and have accumulated a truly ridiculous yarn stash… Which just means that I need to make even more!

What are you working on next?

My first historical mystery novel, The Detective’s Guide to Ocean Travel, came out this year, and I am thrilled to say that I’m now working on Book Two in this series. I’m also working on a picture book with another fun and feisty protagonist.

A few of Nicki’s fabulous crochet sea creatures.