MARLENE’S TOP WRITING TIP: Believe in yourself and never stop writing. Even if you think something is rubbish or that it’s not working, just file it away and come back to it later, which may be years. That ‘rubbish’ may be the impetus for something else. It is still part of the process even if it goes nowhere.
Marlene Rattigan is an Early Childhood teacher, a teacher of English as a Second Language, and from 1987-2000 was an AFAC accredited fitness leader. Her background is in music education. A keen interest in motor development in children led to the creation of Kidz-Fiz-Biz (Physical Business for Kids) which she taught successfully for 13 years. Marlene then put the program into book form, published by Crown House Publishing UK, called Kidz-Fiz-Biz – learning through drama, dance and song, and also kidz-fiz-biz Multicultural. Then came Scarf Magic – Creative Scarf Play. These are specifically designed for the Early Childhood classroom teacher, using Music and Movement as the basis of the program, and to bring back the fun and the joy of teaching and learning for both teacher and child. Marlene has also written articles, poems and stories for and about children published in various magazines in Australia and the UK, the most recent being the Berty Button picture book series. Visit Marlene’s website here.
Why do you write? I am creative and I want to communicate. I can’t draw but language comes fairly easily to me. And I love to read, especially children’s picture books.
What would you be doing if you weren’t a writer? Probably just teach, although I find just doing one thing too boring for me. I have to have variety in my life, especially activities that involve creativity.
What was your toughest obstacle to becoming published? Persistence. Having faith and self-belief win out in the end.
What’s the best aspect of your writing life? Freedom to do my own thing. Possibly also the joy of seeing my work in hard copy on a bookshelf. That’s a buzz too.
—the worst? Expecting to earn a good living!
What would you do differently if you were starting out now as a writer? Not be so naïive as to imagine it would all be plain sailing. I would be more realistic, while still believing in myself.
What do you wish you’d been told before you set out to become an author? I don’t think I ever set out to become an author. Becoming an author kind of enveloped me. It just happened. But if I had to choose, I wish I’d been told to send multiple copies of manuscripts simultaneously to publishers. The waste of time waiting for publishers to get back to you one by one – if at all – is mind-numbing and kills your creativity.
What’s the best advice you were ever given? To cull, cull, and cull some more. VERY difficult to do! And those are my lovely words culled out of existence! Others call it editing but that’s such a clinical word. Ripping the guts out is what culling is all about and you do need to do that to be precise in what you’re saying. Less is more.
Berty Button Gets a Team
‘There are big trucks, little trucks and everything in between but only one Berty Button with his beautiful jelly beans.’
This lively tale introduces the series hero, a massive truck covered in jelly beans. Suitable for children aged 4-8 years and with bright, colourful illustrations, it tells how Berty Button comes to acquire two more members of the fleet. When a complicated problem arises, the new recruits decide to solve it themselves as ‘we can’t let Berty Button down’ and so become worthwhile members of the fleet. The book is available here.