Alfie's Adventures
Author & Illustrator

Hayley Jane Smith

Hayley Jane Smith

Born in 1989 and growing up in Witney, Oxfordshire, I have always loved and cared for the natural world and animals. Drawing has always come naturally to me from a young age and my obsession with birds is often reflected in my illustrations. 

As a shy and reserved child, I struggled in social situations and was eventually diagnosed with autism and dyslexia at the age of 20. Following school, I enrolled at Bristol University to read Zoology. Unfortunately, I was diagnosed with OCD and left the university early to receive treatment.  I became so unwell that I was hospitalised at the age of 25, where I drew birds everyday to help me cope. As my OCD gradually improved, I met my now husband at the age of 28, who has supported me in my recovery and given me my life back. He encouraged me to apply for an illustration masters degree with Falmouth University, and I was lucky enough to be offered a place based on my portfolio.

Development of Alfie's Adventures

During my masters degree, I was presented with the challenge of developing my own visual narrative on a socially driven issue. Having never written a story before, I did not consider myself to be any good at this, especially having dyslexia, autism and OCD (which can make my thinking quite matter of fact). As I care greatly about environmental and wildlife conservation, especially in respect to parrots, I chose to attempt to communicate this issue through a children’s story. 

Surprised by how much enjoyment I gained from creating my story, I decided to refine it after my masters degree, by improving the illustrations. Through encouragement from my husband and parents, I sent my manuscript to publishers. There were a lot of ups and downs, but ‘Alfie's Adventures: Hyacinth Macaw’ was published by Bumblebee Books, an imprint of Olympia Publishers, on 28 September 2023. 

Now having my OCD under control, when I am not drawing, I enjoy life spending time with my husband and family enjoying walks, cooking, sightseeing, travelling, running and looking after my houseplant collection and rescue pet African grey parrot, Alfie.

Through the story "Alfie's Adventures", I express my concern about human impact on the natural world, and want to inspire future generations to care for and conserve nature and our environment.