JR’s top tip for aspiring authors: Read what you write aloud to yourself or to another person whose opinion you respect and who respects you. You’ll pick up breaks in flow, narrative gaps or inconsistencies better, and see more clearly where to build on or delete, character development points, mood builders, scene setters etc that way more effectively.
JR Poulter once worked in a circus. This definitely qualifies her to write for children! She has been published in Australia, UK and USA, having more than 30 children’s and education books with mainstream publishers, has won major awards, including Children’s Choice, New Zealand, as well as digital editions in UK, Europe and USA. More books are due for release shortly. J.R. loves teaching children the fun to be had with words whether in poetry or prose and doing dramatised book readings. She created a picture book in collaboration with Craig Smith, for an enthusiastic, participatory audience for the Lockyer Festival. She writes novels [including YA], award-winning literary poetry, short stories and creates photography and artwork under JR McRae. Her greatest adventure, under both writing names, consists of global collaborations with more than 50 illustrators, book designers and translators across 22 countries.
Why do you write? It’s a lifelong habit – too late to break now, besides I wouldn’t know what to do with myself if I didn’t. The girl can’t help it! Poetry and prose have always fascinated me. I read anything I could get my hands on. If there were no books, I read the dictionary!
What would you be doing if you weren’t a writer? Mmmmm – a full-time artist/photographer perhaps; maybe an actress, jeweller, sculptor – something creative.
What was your toughest obstacle to becoming published? The cost of posting off manuscripts when we had a literal handful of kids to feed, clothe etc etc. This dates me…. I started writing in the days before publishers would let you email submissions!
What’s the best aspect of your writing life? The joy of putting pen to paper or fingers to keyboard and seeing what emerges – I love discovering the tale as it happens, discovering what’s next for this character, this situation… and collaborating, I love collaborating with illustrators and book designers because this adds another whole world of creativity to a plain text – it adds a universe to it!
An illustrator takes a hold of your story and they see the story’s universe. If the story family is sitting at the kitchen table, the illustrator will be the unseen guest, wandering round the kitchen, looking out the back window to see what’s there – paddock, distant mountains, back alley, neighbour’s fence – they’ll amble upstairs and look out the bedroom window to see what’s up the street; they’ll go downstairs and explore the yard, get to know the pets etc etc etc
—the worst? The editing, the databases to be filled in, the whole marketing and promo thing…
What would you do differently if you were starting out now as a writer? I’m not sure … if you have the time and money, you can hobnob at all the international conferences, launches and social goings on but then that robs you of the essential ‘stand and stare’ precursor to writing time doesn’t it.
What do you wish you’d been told before you set out to become an author? I can’t say I ever set out to be an author, it was as unavoidable as growing up is inevitable. Writing from as early as I can remember, I didn’t have family support. Their focus was on sport. My mother didn’t like what I wrote but her discouraging comments didn’t work. It had the opposite effect, so I’m kind of glad I had that ‘reverse’ motivation!
What to beware of: The fine print!
What’s the best advice you were ever given? Write, write, write then write some more – never let a day slip by without writing!
ABOUT WORD WINGS PUBLISHING
Word Wings Publishing consists of the creative energies of more than 50 amazingly talented folk in more than 20 countries doing what they do best – creating beautiful illustrated books! Word Wings believes words are the wings that give imagination flight, that allow us to soar into the realms where dreams become possibilities, and possibilities become realities. This, essentially, is education – the opening of eyes to see and seize opportunities. Words entertain, liberate and educate and images give to words vivid visual impetus. As head of Word Wings, J.R. brings years of experience as a senior educator, reviewer, librarian and associate lecturer in English expression. She writes all the teacher notes and activity sheets to accompany the books.
Publishing website: under construction www.wordwings.wix.com/publishing