LEANNE’S TOP WRITING TIP: JUST DO IT! There are a million and one distractions, interruptions or eruptions that happen in our lives. It’s like that old saying “ Do not wait to strike when the iron is hot, but make it hot by striking!” Procrastinating won’t make your dream happen. Once you are on your path to your dream then you can sweep, clean and polish along the way.
Leanne White grew up in the beautiful seaside town of Albany. A very free-range child, Leanne and her brothers roamed the bush or beach for hours. Wildlife encounters (feathered, furred or finned) were part of their common day’s play. Upon completion of her teaching degree she was lucky enough to teach for two years in a remote Aboriginal community in the Pilbara. Here, Leanne experienced a way of life she had never thought of. The remoteness, isolation, Aboriginal culture and arid wilderness became ingrained. Later she moved further north to the Kimberley, and lived on a little farm surrounded by bush. Here the wildlife was even more exciting with brighter colours and a cheekier nature. In fact, it seemed the wildlife did not understand how to stay in the bush. Friendly inhabitants of her garden were a bower bird, whistling ducks, tawny frog mouth owls, frilled necked lizards, wallabies, bats, sugar gliders, frogs and dingoes (just to name a few!) This was when Leanne began to paint and write stories about birds, animals, reptiles and insects.
Today, living once again in Albany with her husband, two children, two dogs, two galahs and 20 chooks, Leanne has written or illustrated seven books. They are published through Wild Eyed Press, a small independent publishing company that Leanne and her husband Mark opened in 2010. Wild Eyed Press is a small traditional trade publisher for authors and illustrators. The answer to everyone’s question is ‘yes’ – Wild Eyed Press is open for submissions.
“I am frantically working on illustrations for new books. I spend many hours in my little studio listening to music or audio books as I draw, paint and then giggle at cartoons,” said Leanne.
“Happy writing or illustrating and remember… let your imagination run WILD!”
For information about Leanne check out the Wild Eyed Press website: www.wildeyedpress.com.au
Why do you write? I always loved writing as a child. I remember my gran was a wonderful storyteller. She would tell us a story before bedtime; often these were just stories she had made up. I think the joy of story telling, once experienced, is something you never forget. I’m lucky enough to be able to draw and paint, and am surrounded by children all day at school, so writing for children happens quite naturally.
What would you be doing if you weren’t a writer? At times I have worked as a professional artist, supplying galleries and commissions. It’s actually very stressful work, as you constantly have to find inspiration for your next body of work. By writing and illustrating I find I am very stimulated by the intellectual process required for a book to work: show don’t tell, the hidden illustrator’s story, shaping the curve of the story, the satisfaction of resolution.
What was your toughest obstacle to becoming published? I was very lucky in this respect. When working as a professional wildlife artist I was producing print material for a large number of retailers all over Australia. When, through Wild Eyed Press, my husband and I decided to produce children’s books the market for them was already there. The toughest part was overcoming the fear that they would not be up to scratch. There are some very good editing services to help with this, and my writing group is pure gold!
What’s the best aspect of your writing life? I find the whole process the most fun. I love daydreaming about the stories until I am ready to begin writing. I love creating the characters, crafting the story, planning the illustrations, altering illustrations and then following them through as a sequence. I also love it when a mum tells me my book is her child’s favourite story and has to read it every night.
(Poor mother! I remember reading Green Eggs and Ham to my son every night for an entire year! After that I could stand in front of a class and quote the entire book with all its wonderful running rhyme from memory. Kids loved it!)
—the worst? The worst part is not being able to totally devote all my time to writing and illustrating. I think this is a common moan!
What would you do differently if you were starting out now as a writer? As William the Wild has developed into a series I would have tried to anticipate this.
What do you wish you’d been told before you set out to become an author? Join up! There are some amazing organisations that will offer professional help in every aspect of writing or illustrating. Along the way you will meet the most generous, inspirational people who become your network of friends in the solitary world of writing. I love my writing group!
What’s the best advice you were ever given?
The quote by Helen Keller: “Life is a daring adventure or nothing at all.”
As the sun went down at the end of the day,
William the Wild loved to play.
“William the Wild” is a little boy who lives in a world of fantasy. In his world he is the intrepid explorer who encounters Australian wildlife in every situation. The text is for beginning readers with simple word selection and a gentle rhythmic rhyme. Illustrations are in bright vivid colour with a busy ‘look to find’ composition. The themes of these books are imaginative play, nature play and our wonderful natural Australia.
These books are available from http://www.wildeyedpress.com.au