Meet the Creators: Bedtime Daddy

It takes a team to create a picture book and today it’s my pleasure to introduce the author and illustrator of Bedtime, Daddy! This quirky look at the nightly bedtime routine is sure to become a family favourite. First, a little about author Sharon Giltrow and illustrator Katrin Dreiling…

Sharon grew up in South Australia, the youngest of eight children, surrounded by pet sheep and fields of barley. She now lives in Perth, Western Australia with her husband, two children and a tiny dog. When not writing, Sharon works with children with Developmental Language Disorder. Sharon was awarded the Paper Bird Fellowship in 2019. Her debut PB Bedtime, Daddy! was released in May 2020 through EK Books.

Twitter – https://twitter.com/sharon_giltrow

Instagram – https://www.instagram.com/sharongiltrow1/?hl=en

Facebook – https://www.facebook.com/sharongiltrowwriter/

Katrin is a German-born language teacher but moved to Australia with her husband and three children and became an illustrator.

Katrin creates quirky illustrations that feature different media. Her first picture book The World’s Worst Pirate by Michelle Worthington has been awarded Notable Book 2018 by the Children’s Book Council of Australia and she also delivered illustrations for a highly successful video animation production on YouTube.

Katrin was awarded the Harper Collins Illustrators Showcase Award 2019 at the biannual SCBWI conference in Sydney. She is represented by Essie White at Storm Literary Agency.

Katrin also teaches art to children twice a week and conducts illustration workshops for both adults and children. She also loves to spend time with her family, writing quirky stories and walking her Golden Retriever Loki.

https://www.katrindreiling.com/

https://www.instagram.com/katrinartworks/

Congratulations to you both on the release of this fun story about bedtime. Sharon, I’m guessing the story was inspired by your own parenting experiences. Tell us a little about your writing process and how the story came to be published.

My story Bedtime, Daddy! is based on my real-life parenting experiences and my inspiration for writing came from my family. All the excuses that little bear uses are excuses my children have used to postpone bedtime over the past 13 years.

My writing process starts with me brainstorming the idea, researching the idea, mapping out the narrative ARC then writing the first draft. After I am happy with the first draft, I send it off to my critique group. Once everyone has critiqued the story, I take everyone’s suggestions, go through them page by page and comment by comment and then incorporate the ones that ring true. Then I let the story sit for a couple of months, then re-visit, revise it again, work out page turns and when I am happy submit it to publishers.

For Bedtime, Daddy! I wrote the first draft in June 2017. After numerous revisions I submitted the story to EK Books in June 2018. I received an email from two weeks later and signed the publishing deal two months later. EK Books asked Katrin Dreiling to illustrate the book.

Katrin, what was your response on first reading Sharon’s manuscript? Did the story immediately conjure images for you? Please share a little about your process in illustrating the book. How collaborative was it?

Thank you for having me, Teena! When I first read Sharon’s manuscript I had so much fun and straight away the feeling this would be a great project. I am a mum of three teenagers who never enjoyed and never will enjoy going to bed and still find every excuse in the book to avoid it so the theme definitely hit home. Hence I put a lot of my children’s face expressions and body language when they were little into the illustrating process.

Sharon, has the book been illustrated the way you envisioned it would be when you wrote it?

That is a very interesting question. When I wrote my book, I pictured the characters as people. A daddy and a child, although I hadn’t pictured the child as a boy or a girl. EK Books asked Katrin to illustrate people as well as bears for the characters and they shared Katrin’s illustrations with me. I was still picturing the characters as people, however the very wise Anouska Jones, EK Books editor, suggested that we go with the bear characters as they would have more worldwide appeal. I trusted Anouska as she had a lot more publishing experience than me. So, the characters are bears and they are perfect and I love them dearly.

Do you have a favourite part of Bedtime Daddy?

S. This is a very hard question as I have many favourite parts, but if I had to choose just one it would be the part where Daddy bear is wearing his favourite dinosaur pyjamas on his head.

K. I think I like the part where Little Bear puts Daddy to bed the first time and gives him a kiss best because to me it symbolises little children’s sweet determination and innocence when they copy grown up behavior and try to be responsible parents. It’s a beautiful age.

What do you hope readers will take away from the experience of reading this book?

S. That children and parents will enjoy the book as they laugh together over the antics of cheeky daddy bear going to bed.

K. For parents it will be nice to be reaffirmed that this bedtime pattern is universal and maybe something to embrace rather than dreaded? Kids grow up so quickly but that’s easy to forget when you are busy and tired. For kids it will be pure fun to see Daddy being put in a child’s position – what can be better? 😊

Where do you find your creative inspiration?

S. My creative inspiration comes from real life and reading picture books.

K. I work a lot with children when I give art classes or spend time with my own kids and I am always amazed at their own unique creativity. Other than that I love to look at other illustrators’ work and find inspiration.

 How has your childhood influenced you as a children’s books creator?

S. My love of books as a child influenced my love of writing.

K. Growing up in Germany, you spend a lot of time indoors especially during the colder months. I listened to many audio plays during that time and would just draw and paint whatever and however I wanted. There were no rules and I felt free in mind and on paper.

 What was your toughest obstacle to becoming published?

S. Finding a publisher that loved Bedtime, Daddy! and believed in the story as much as I did.

K. Probably realising that I need to be more patient and that these things rarely happen overnight.

What’s the best aspect of your creative life?

S. Creating something out of an idea. Taking an idea and making it into a story. Turning a blank page into a story. Sharing that story with other writers and readers.

K. I work from home in a lovely, small studio guarded by my massive dog and I can schedule my day exactly like I want it. I also love to be able to express myself creatively and hopefully touch children’s lives with my work.

 —the worst?

S. Wondering if publishers are going to publish it and then if readers are going to enjoy it.

K. An increasingly high chocolate consumption…

 What would you do differently if you were starting out now in this industry? What do you wish you’d known?

S. Try and picture how the story is going to look and read as a book.

K. I’d definitely be more patient. I think…I hope…

 What’s the best advice you were ever given?

S. Just write! Get that first draft down on paper. Also read lots of books.

K. A good friend of mine who also happens to be a very successful illustrator once told me to keep busy and not to think about the getting published aspect too much. It will happen – that is ultimately true because you are honing your craft this way minus the worrying.

 What’s your top tip for aspiring children’s books creators?

S. Make time to write. Even if it is just for 15 minutes at a time. Use what time you have and write.

K. Keep busy 😊

How important is social media to you?

S. Social media is very important to me. It has allowed me to reach out to readers and other writers from all around the world.

K. It is very important and resulted in several contracts for me. It can be a bit distracting or just plain “too much” sometimes and that’s usually when I take a break or keep a bit more quiet. I try to keep it always running in the background, though.

 Is there a favourite childhood book that has influenced you creatively?

S. Are You My Mother? By PD Eastman I read and re-read it as a child over and over again.

K. Astrid Lindgren’s Pippi Longstocking with the fabulous ink illustrations by Rolf Rettich in the 1987 edition.

BOOK BYTE

Bedtime, Daddy!

Written by Sharon Giltrow

Illustrated by Katrin Dreiling

Putting Daddy to bed can be hard work. Especially when he starts crying! This story will show you how to wrestle your daddy into his pyjamas and read just one more bedtime story. ‘I’m thirrrrrrrrssssssty,’ says Daddy. ‘I need to poop … I’m hungry … But I’ll miss you,’ he says, while he looks at you with cutie eyes. You’ll have to battle the bedtime excuses and use go-away monster spray until Daddy finally goes to sleep. Bedtime can be a mission for many, but with these gorgeous illustrations of a little bear and his dad, this is the perfect role-reversal bedtime story to help put any fussy child to bed in a fun and positive way. Full of heart and humour, Bedtime, Daddy! is for anyone who wants to try and put a grown-up to bed.

Buy the book here.

 

Meet the Creators: Vikki Conley and Penelope Pratley

One of the loveliest aspects of my writing life is connecting with other children’s book creators and sharing the excitement of a new story finding its way to young readers. This week I’m chatting with Vikki Conley and Penelope Pratley about their creative life and their beautiful picture book, Ella and Mrs Gooseberry.

Congratulations to you both on the release of this warm-hearted story about Ella’s quest to find out what love looks like and how to help her next door neighbour find it again. It brought a smile to my day and I’m sure it will become a favourite with families.

Penelope, what was your response on first reading Vikki’s manuscript?  My first response to a manuscript is always to draw a few quick sketches as I read the story and see how the characters present themselves.

Did the story immediately conjure images for you? Immediately I knew that the images where the characters explain ‘What love looks like’ would use the colours of the rainbow in the background which would lead to a rainbow of colour as Mrs Gooseberry danced in her kitchen. I also really wanted to include the ‘floating’ elements to represent the magic feeling that is love.

Please share a little about your process in illustrating the book. How collaborative was it?  As an illustrator I complete a storyboard that is then sent to the publisher. The art director and editor then provide feedback on placement and any early changes that may need to occur. Then I complete a set of ‘good copy’ drawings that are sent back to the publisher and shared with the author. From there the publisher provides me with any further changes before I commence the final illustrations using pencil and watercolour paint.

Vikki, has the book been illustrated the way you envisioned it would be when you wrote it?  When I write, I visualise scenes, not necessarily exact color or style. However, I always hoped that the story would be in soft watercolor with gentle characters and warm colors. Penelope has done just this with her beautiful illustrations. So I think the answer is yes!

Do you have a favourite part of Ella and Mrs Gooseberry?

V. I love the floating images that represent each character’s wonder and response to the question, “What does love look like?” I was thrilled when I saw Penelope had conceived this concept for the story. It added visual excitement and supported the story in such a original way.

P. It’s so hard to choose just one part! I’m particularly fond of the ‘love looks like’ pages – especially the ‘grandma’ page as it’s based on my beautiful mother-in-law. I also love the small story of the soccer ball getting stuck in Mrs Gooseberry’s front yard that we later see Mrs Gooseberry kicking happily.

What do you hope readers will take away from the experience of reading this book?

V. That they will be encouraged to wonder. That they will explore the idea of love with their family. That they will consider how others feel. That they will feel warm inside like an apple pie!

P. I hope readers will appreciate the importance of community and will value that love comes in many different forms and that a child’s solution to a problem comes from the heart.

Where do you find your creative inspiration?

V. In so many places. In particular, I expose myself to a lot of art and wilderness. I read widely. As a treat, I try to get to galleries and performances. A podcast, audio book or music is often playing in my car, or while I cook dinner. I walk among trees and along rivers several times a week. I then try to notice the small things in life – sounds, body language, light, movement, colors. Diverse experiences are also good for my creative juices – travel, food, climbing mountains, trying new things regularly.

P. Well Vikki’s beautiful story obviously, my family and friends and ‘Olive’ who was an elderly blind lady I used to read to after meeting her on the bus home after school. I would spend my Sunday afternoons walking to her house and reading her The Secret Garden and many classic tales.

How has your childhood influenced you as a children’s books creator?

V. Enormously. I grew up on a farm nestled in between the mountains, rainforest, the ocean and a national park. Animals, the natural world and adventure left a lasting imprint on my mind and soul. I have memories of doing backflips down sand dunes and spotting kangaroos hopping along the beach on remote islands, body painting myself with white clay found in river streams, making daisy chains for the orphan lambs that we reared by bottle, and eating icecream with mulberries picked straight from the tree. I still feel, smell and smile about all of these memories. They inspire my writing every day.

P. I was very ill as a child and still suffer from a range of chronic autoimmune conditions. So books and art have always kept me company. When I returned to school in grade two after a long stint in hospital our class was reading Possum Magic. The accompanying activity was to recreate one of Julie Vivas’ stunning watercolour illustrations. That moment was completely magic for me. I was not a great reader until early high school but would spend hours listening to stories on cassette tape and poring over picture books. My Nan in particular encouraged my love of art, always providing a steady stream of paper and materials to keep me company while I was unable to attend school. Art and creativity have always had a consistent presence in my life.

What was your toughest obstacle to becoming published?

V. Finding space in my life to just keep writing.

P. Believing that I could. Because it doesn’t matter how many people tell you can do something until you believe it yourself.

What’s the best aspect of your creative life?

V. Working with other creators who bring their own imagination and flair to a project. That sweet spot where story meets illustration is like honey on crumpets!

P. Oh my goodness – there are SO many! I suppose the best one is I get to do what I love every day and I am still available to be a mum to my two beautiful children.

—the worst?

V. Having to keep so many multiple projects and jobs on the go in order to be able to afford crumpets.

P. Time! I never seem to have enough of it and I spend vast amounts of time alone. Sometimes it would be great to have someone to bounce ideas off as I’m creating.

What would you do differently if you were starting out now in this industry? What do you wish you’d known?

V. I would have reworked my early manuscripts for longer before I started submitting. Perhaps done my Australian Writers’ Centre Picture Book course sooner – it helped me take a giant leap.

P. I think the only thing I would do differently is to have started sooner.

What’s the best advice you were ever given?

V. Just keep writing.

P. Do all things with excellence.

What’s your top tip for aspiring children’s books creators?

V. Just keep writing. But also seek opportunities to improve eg a mentor, a course, a writer’s group.

P. Put your work out there and put time in to hone your craft with daily repeated practice.

How important is social media to you?

V. I used to be slightly afraid, almost opposed to social media. However, I now embrace it. It’s helped me connect with many creators and professionals in the industry. It’s also allowed others to share my journey and support me along the way.

P. Not overly important as far as self promotion but super important for the beautiful friendships and for the advice of fellow illustrators and writers who are so generous with their time and knowledge.

Is there a favourite childhood book that has influenced you creatively?

V. The Magic Faraway Tree by Enid Blyton because it is pure bliss and wonder. And also The Gingerbread Man by Jim Aylesworth for its fun and cheekiness. How can you ever forget that line…? “Run, run as fast as you can! You can’t catch me I’m the Gingerbread man.”

P. Ha! I can’t possibly only share one. Possum Magic – Mem Fox, Let’s Play – Marie Hall Ets, Velveteen Rabbit – Margery Williams, The Little Matchstick Girl – Hans Christian Anderson, and The Little Green Road To Fairyland- Ida Rentoul Outhwaite.

Vikki Conley. Photo: Rachel Winton Photography

Vikki Conley is one of the most prolific emerging children’s authors, with seven picture books being released within the next two years. She is a writer, book reviewer and intrepid adventurer. She has worked as a professional writer and marketer, with diverse communities in Africa, Asia and Australia, for over 20 years.

Vikki has been short-listed, long-listed and placed in competitions including Jackie Hosking’s Poetry For Kids (2019), the CYA Competition (2018 & 2019) and the Charlotte Waring Barton Award (2017). Vikki has a Bachelor of Arts in Public Relations and has completed two children’s picture book courses (Writers Victoria and the Australian Writers’ Centre).

To find out more about Vikki, visit https://www.vikkiconley.com/

Penelope Pratley

Penelope Pratley is an emerging illustrator, writer and educator living in NSW, Australia. The first picture book she illustrated was published in 2018. With an aim to grow hearts she uses watercolour, ink, pencil and mixed media. Penelope always had a BIG dream to write and illustrate quality books and inspire children to read. When she’s not working in her garden studio or munching chocolate freckles, you’ll find her at the back of the local bookshop in the children’s section. Penelope has illustrated two picture books published in 2019 and is excited to be illustrating more for publication in 2020. To find out more about Penelope, visit https://www.penelopesnest.com/

About Ella and Mrs Gooseberry

Grumpy old Mrs Gooseberry from next door has lost her love. ‘I didn’t know you could lose love,’ says Ella. So she begins her quest to find out what love looks like and how she can help Mrs Gooseberry to rediscover it. Her mother says love is like home-cooked pie. Her teacher says it’s like lanterns in the night. Perhaps love might look like a little kitten. Ella and Mrs Gooseberry is a heart-warming picture book about a child’s understanding of love, selfless giving and how it makes you feel.

It is available from www.ekbooks.org and wherever good books are sold.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Meet the Author: Sonia Bestulic

The spotlight this week is on a delightful new picture book about music and noisy play and it’s my pleasure to welcome author Sonia Bestulic, who stopped in during her celebratory book tour to chat about her writing life.

Sonia was born and grew up in Sydney, Australia, enjoying a childhood filled with wonderful books, a passion for writing, and musically entwined, having played the violin until her late teens, including performances at the
Sydney Opera House. Sonia is founder of Talking Heads Speech Pathology, the well-known, reputable Sydney-based clinics established in 2006. A long-term advocate for children’s learning and literacy, Sonia continues to write and speak when it comes to all things children.

You can find out more about Sonia at her website and on Facebook.

AUTHOR INSIGHT

Why do you write? I write to create connection. Books are such a powerful and personal mode of connection, and with children’s picture books there is a beautiful layer of shared experience that occurs with the child and the reader (who is often a parent/ carer or educator). I consider myself and other authors as facilitators of connection, which is both humbling and amazing.

Where do you draw your creative inspiration? Very much from my personal experiences (with my own children and extended family), and professional life experiences working closely with children and families. Generally I enjoy observing life- the people, the places, and nature.

Where do you slot in time to write around your family commitments and career? Whenever I can – this is an ongoing challenge for me! Generally I do enjoy writing during early mornings and evening time when the children are asleep.

Reece Give me some Peace is a wonderful picture book about music and noisy play. It’s a delight and brought a smile to my day. It also reminded me of the precious little peace and quiet parents get to enjoy when children are young. Is the story inspired by personal experience?

Absolutely! I wrote Reece Give Me Some Peace! in the period of my life when my three young children were two, three and four years old at the time. Life was certainly hectic, and there was always activity happening. Having three children so close in age brought with it a strong reminder to live in the moment and be playful. Reece Give Me Some Peace! reflects that, as well as the difficulties parents often experience, in trying to enjoy moments of peace and quiet in a noisy child inhabited household.

How does your knowledge as a speech and language pathologist influence you as a children’s author? My knowledge as a Speech & Language Pathologist has a massive influence on my writing. I work so heavily to support and further develop children’s oral language skills and readiness to read, spell and write; and so I look to incorporate language features and themes that will create a rich and engaging language experience for children.

What was your toughest obstacle to becoming published? Patience and perseverance in having my voice heard in a busy and competitive industry.

How involved have you been in the development of your book? Did you have input into the cover/illustrations?

The development of the book has been a fantastic journey that I have certainly been involved in. I had welcome opportunities to provide feedback and collaborate with regards to the cover and overall illustrations; and initially was able to provide an illustrator’s brief, which allowed me to communicate the strong visual I had in my mind when writing the text.

What’s the best aspect of your writing life? The avenue for creative freedom and expression.

—the worst? Can be a challenge making the time to do as much writing as I would like!

What would you do differently if you were starting out now as a writer? Set more dedicated writing time in my daily routine – this is still a current goal. Step out of my comfort zone sooner and proactively network.

What do you wish you’d been told before you set out to become an author? Get ready to be extremely patient!

What’s the best advice you were ever given? Don’t evaluate your manuscripts based on whether a publisher takes them up or not.

What’s your top tip for aspiring authors? Keep writing, get feedback, keep submitting, network.

How important is social media to you as an author? I have to say, being comfortable using social media has been a bit of a journey for me. I have always preferred a more quiet life on social media; however I quickly realised the importance and relevance of connecting to an audience through social media – it really is an avenue that allows an author to effectively engage others in sharing their author journey, book travels, and just get to know them as a person overall. I certainly had to step out of my comfort zone!

Do you experience ‘writer’s block’ and if so, how do you overcome it? By taking a mind break and doing something different. I try to be very clear on what specific obstacle I am facing/having difficulty with, and then I move on to a different task, as often ideas and solutions flow more easily when I am not overly focused on the task at hand. Taking a walk, sitting quietly observing nature and even doing household tasks allows my mind to wander and work through that block and provide me with at least the very next step to take.

Do you have another book in the pipeline? I sure do; I have another children’s picture book in the making at present; and it is due to be published with Big Sky Publishing mid-2019. Nancy Bevington is once again the illustrator, and it is looking beautifully amazing so far.

In three words, how would you describe your writing? A constant evolution.

If you had the chance to spend an hour with any writer of your choice, living or dead, who would it be and what would you most like them to tell you about living a writing life? It would definitely by Dr Seuss! I would love to know as much as possible – his inspiration, his typical day, his toughest challenges in the industry, his tips and strategies, his way of organising his great ideas.

BOOK BYTE

Reece Give Me Some Peace

Written by Sonia Bestulic, illustrated by Nancy Bevington

A fun-loving book about the wonderful world of music and of noisy play!

Reece is a very cheeky, curious young boy who loves making NOISE. Today he’s making music. There are lots of interesting clangs, bangs and thumps coming from his room as his playing gets more and more vigorous. His mother’s requests for him to be quieter only seem to make him louder and louder. As his exuberance for his playing grows, so does his mother’s exasperation! Will she ever get any peace?

The simple rhythmic text combined with delightful illustrations remind us of the power of learning through play and exploration. Kids will love making the lively sounds, and parents and carers will relate to the challenge of being able to enjoy some quiet; especially when there are instruments at play!

The book is available from book retailers and also from the publisher here

You can find out more about Sonia and her book by following the blog tour.

 

 

 

 

 

Here are the direct links:

Monday Sep 3 – Sunday Sep 16 www.justkidslit.com/blog

Monday Sep 3 mrsbbookreviews.wordpress.com

Tuesday Sep 4 educateempower.com.au

Wednesday Sep 5 blog.boomerangbooks.com.au

Thursday Sep 6 kelliebyrnes.com

Monday Sep 10 sharingyourstory.com.au

Tuesday Sep 11 telltalestome.wordpress.com

Wednesday Sep 12 missielovesbooks.com

Thursday Sep 13 readingtime.com.au

Friday Sep 14 readilearn.com.au

Just Write For Kids & Books On Tour www.justkidslit.com/books-on-tour www.facebook.com/booksontouraus www.twitter.com/booksontour_aus www.instagram.com/booksontour_aus

Meet the Author/Illustrator: Anne Helen Donnelly

It’s always a celebration when a new picture book becomes available for young readers and today it’s my pleasure to welcome Anne Helen Donnelly as part of her online book tour for Ori’s Clean-up, latest in her Ori the Octopus series.

Anne lives in Sydney with her husband and her two young children. She has taught dance, been an entertainer at children’s parties, and she reads and teaches art and craft to children. She paints children’s canvasses and makes greeting cards.

Anne has been encouraged to share her story-telling, her illustrations and her creativity, resulting in her Ori the Octopus series. The first book Ori the Octopus was closely followed by Ori’s Christmas, both released in 2017. In 2018 Anne is combining another of her passions, care of the environment, in her third book Ori’s Clean-up, released this month.

I asked Anne about her creative life…

What’s the best aspect of your creative life? Getting out doing readings and workshops with children.

—the worst? I have been trying to revamp my website for two months now, this would have to be top of my list right now.

Where do you draw the inspiration for your picture books? For my current picture book, the environment and its care has always been a passion for me. Otherwise, from everywhere/anywhere. I can think in pictures, so I may see something that sparks an idea.

How has your background in dance and being an entertainer at children’s parties influenced you as an author/illustrator? The dancing has helped me as I have had to capture the attention of children and motivate them. Teaching 20 four and five-year-old boys teamwork in a dance troupe is a tough gig. The entertaining is the same. You use anything that works; comedy, magic, games and mostly getting them involved. And you learn not to do one thing for very long and to mix it up.

How do you approach a new picture book project? Walk us through your creative process. Once you have an idea, what’s the next step? Like most writers, an idea usually has to sit and ‘cook’ until it’s ready to be told. Then I write the first draft, then many, many redrafts with usually more than one critique and assessment.

What are you working on at the moment? I am working on promoting my new book. I just completed four events up in Port Macquarie and have some 11+ events coming up this year.

Also, as mentioned earlier, I am revamping my website while ‘cooking’ another picture book manuscript or two.

How much time do you spend on creating each picture book? I assume this means after the manuscript has ‘baked’? It varies, starting at eight months.

What do you hope readers will take away from your stories? An enjoyable story, lovely pictures and a message. My current book has a clear message of taking care of our environment, regardless of how young you are.

Is there any area of art or writing that you still find challenging? We are all always improving so I like to think that my manuscripts in two to three years’ time will be better than what I am writing now. Ditto for illustrating, but I do find drawing hands challenging.

What was your toughest obstacle to becoming published? I would say what is my toughest obstacle now as an independent publisher is competing with trade published books for promotion/sales and shelf space.

What would you be doing if you weren’t writing and illustrating children’s books? I would still be involved with children in a voluntary manner in between a regular job like I used to be. My last university qualifications mean, prior to entering the Kid Lit world, I was a health manager. I used to manage a Cancer Care Centre across two hospitals. It was a generalist management role; budgets, doctors and other health workforce, patients, service delivery, accreditations, complaints, improvements etc – the whole works.

What would you do differently if you were starting out now as an author/illustrator? Network earlier on.

What do you wish you’d been told before you set out to become a picture book creator? Some more facts about the size of the Australian market and the common obstacles. I probably would have still continued anyway, I like to try things. You only live once!

What’s the best advice you were ever given? My first editor helped me with my writing by saying I had some $5 words in my manuscript. Meaning, some of my vocabulary was aimed too high for my intended readership.

Now for a little light relief – If you were going to be stuck in a stalled lift for several hours who would you choose to share the experience with you and why? Tough one. I really don’t know. My mum’s uncle was an amazing man. He was an interpreter in the British forces in Malta. He spoke five languages perfectly, down to the accents. I only got to meet him twice before he died, and I so enjoyed listening to him and talking with him. He felt like a kindred soul, and so down to earth. It would have been wonderful to have more time with him.

Of course, I also had to ask for Anne’s top tip for aspiring author/illustrators. It’s good advice:

Do a good picture book writing course and get to as many pitching sessions and manuscript assessments as you can.

BOOK BYTE

Ori the Octopus and his friends have left their rubbish everywhere. They tidy up, but it doesn’t work. To keep their home clean and healthy, they need to do something different, something better.

Buy the book at Booktopia general site and bookstores and on Anne’s website annehelendonnelly.com

Anne has been out and about chatting about her new book as part of the launch celebrations organised by Books on Tour. Here’s where to find her other book stops…

 

 

 

 

 

Monday July 30 – Friday August 3

www.justkidslit.com/blog

Monday July 30

educateempower.com.au

Tuesday July 31

maureeneppen.com

Wednesday August 1

missielovesbooks.com

Meet the Author: Kate Simpson

It’s always an occasion for celebration when a new book is sent out into the world and today it’s my pleasure to introduce Kate Simpson, whose picture book Finding Granny is set to touch the hearts of young readers and their families. Kate’s doing a Blog Tour this week and full details follow our chat…

Kate  is a picture book author and co-host of the children’s book podcast One More Page. Kate’s debut picture book Finding Granny, illustrated by Gwynneth Jones, tells the story of a small girl whose world is turned on its head when her beloved grandmother suffers a stroke. As well as being an author, Kate is also one third of the children’s book podcast One More Page, which features guest interviews, book reviews and giveaways, as well as a kid-centric segment called Kids Capers. Find out more about Kate at www.katesimpsonbooks.com.

Facebook: https://www.facebook.com/katesimpsonbooks/

Twitter: http://www.twitter.com/ksimpsonbooks

Goodreads: https://www.goodreads.com/author/show/18072918.Kate_Simpson

AUTHOR INSIGHT

Why do you write? I write because I love it. I didn’t discover writing until I was in my thirties, but now that I’ve found it, I wouldn’t be without it. I’m going to go a little bit Jerry Maguire and say that it completes me.

What would you be doing if you weren’t a writer? Well, from a financial point of view, writing is definitely the smallest part of what I do. I trained as a chemical engineer and in my day job I supervise asset upgrade works at two water treatment plants and a water recycling plant south of Sydney.

I guess if I wasn’t a writer as well as an engineer, I’d watch a whole lot more TV, sleep more and perhaps find more time to catch up with friends. But it’s all worth it!

What was your toughest obstacle to becoming published? I was quite fortunate in that my first manuscript got picked up relatively quickly. By that, I don’t mean overnight, and I don’t mean the first manuscript I ever wrote,  but within a few years of starting this writing gig, I was lucky enough to have Finding Granny selected for publication.

Aside from good luck, the main thing that I think takes the credit for this is my fantastic critique group, who not only helped me get my manuscripts into shape but also gave me great tips about how to work towards publication.

How involved have you been in the development of your books? Do you have input into the cover/illustrations? I had a reasonable amount of involvement. This is my first published book and from talking to other writers, I had the impression that I would have virtually no input into the selection of illustrator and into the content of the illustrations, but in fact the publisher did consult me. I had an opportunity to provide my opinion on the choice of illustrator and to provide feedback on the roughs. I understand that illustrating is the illustrator’s  job, not mine, so I hope Gwynne would agree that I wasn’t completely diva-ish about what I wanted to see in the illustrations.

What’s the best aspect of your writing life? I suppose the creative satisfaction. I just love the feeling when you’re trying to achieve something on the page and it just sort of clicks. As the A-Team would say: I love it when a plan comes together!

—the worst? Fitting it in. I’m finding it harder and harder to find time to write around the other commitments in my life. I would love to have just a day a week to dedicate to my writing, but alas, it’s not to be (at least at the moment).

What would you do differently if you were starting out now as a writer? I don’t think I’d do anything differently. The single best decision I made when I was starting out was to join my wonderful critique group at the NSW Writers’ Centre, and they have made everything easier and taught me a packet, as well as becoming my tribe.

What do you wish you’d been told before you set out to become an author? I wish I’d been told when I was seven years old that this was even possible. I’ve always loved books but I thought that I couldn’t be a writer because I didn’t have any ideas. The thing I’ve learned is that for many of us, ideas don’t just fall from the sky. We need to go searching for them, cultivate them and sometimes just get out a bit of butcher’s paper and some permanent markers and brainstorm them! If anyone is struggling with story ideas, I’d strongly suggest trying Tara Lazar’s Storystorm, a month-long brainstorming challenge held in January, with the goal of coming up with 30 story ideas in 31 days. When you stop trying to find the perfect idea and just focus on coming up with as many ideas as you can, it’s amazing how the creative juices start flowing and how many of the ideas you have turn out to be real gems. There’s a wonderful quote from Linus Pauling that really sums this up: “The best way to have a good idea is to have a lot of ideas.”

What’s the best advice you were ever given? This is a long game. It’s unlikely to happen overnight and even if it does, it’s unlikely to make you a fortune or even allow you to quit your day job. You must be doing it because you love it. There is no other rational reason.

What’s your top tip for aspiring authors? Well, I’ve probably made it clear already that my top tip is to join a critique group (preferably an awesome one, like the one I was fortunate enough to join). But since I’ve more or less covered that, I’ll add a second one: Don’t get caught up comparing yourself to other people. This is pretty basic life advice but it goes double for authors. Writing is not always a meritocracy. There is a lot of luck involved in whose work gets published and, once published, in whose work gets noticed. If news stories about overnight successes get you inspired, then by all means pay attention, but if you find yourself turning green with envy, it’s time to switch to another channel.

How important is social media to you as an author? I’m going to be honest and say I don’t know. Everyone advises you to have a strong social media presence and I do have a Twitter profile as an author and an author Facebook page, as well as a podcast, but as to how all that helps you to progress your career, I really don’t know. The one thing I do love is the wonderful writing community I’ve found through social media. Groups like Just Write for Kids and Jen Storer’s The Duck Pond are fantastic for creating a virtual tribe who understand what you’re doing and are interested in hearing you yabber on about kids’ books non-stop. Twitter can feel like a pretty negative place sometimes, but post a good news story about winning a writing competition or finishing a manuscript or having a book coming out, and watch how happy people are to celebrate with you.

Do you experience ‘writer’s block’ and if so, how do you overcome it? I absolutely experience writer’s block. More often than not when I sit down to write I really struggle to get the words flowing. One thing that I find often works for me to overcome this is to sit down with a pile of books that I love and that are in a similar vein to what I’m trying to write and I read a whole bunch of them in a row so that I am filled with the emotion that I’m trying to create on the page. Reading books I love also reminds me of why I love to write and gets me excited about putting pen to paper (or fingers to keyboard).

How do you deal with rejection? With difficulty. Look, nobody likes rejection, right? But to be honest, I actually find the fear of rejection often to be worse than the rejection itself. The fear is what puts me off submitting my manuscripts, or even showing them to people whose opinion I respect.

One thing that I find helpful in dealing with rejections is to go on Amazon or Goodreads, find one of my favourite books and read the one-star reviews for that book. Even awesome books are not for everyone.

In three words, how would you describe your writing? Varied, emotive, intimate.

If you had the chance to spend an hour with any writer of your choice, living or dead, who would it be and what would you most like them to tell you about living a writing life? It’s funny you should ask. I’m lucky enough to have this opportunity roughly once a month on my children’s book podcast One More Page. I started working on One More Page almost a year ago with friends and fellow kidlit lovers Nat Amoore and Liz Ledden and since then I’ve had the privilege of knocking on doors and asking people if they would be willing to be interviewed for the podcast. Mostly, this is just an excuse for me to sit down and chat to some really awesome people about their books, craft and all the side stuff that goes along with writing. We’ve been on air since February and in that time I’ve interviewed authors, illustrators, editors and publishers including Jess Walton, Leigh Hobbs, Sue Whiting, Nicky Johnston and Anna McFarlane. It’s a dream come true!

BOOK BYTE

When Edie’s beloved Granny suffers a stroke, Edie feels as if she’s lost her – but the Granny she loves is still there. Finding Granny is a heart-warming story of changing relationships and the bond between children and grandparents. It’s also a sensitive exploration of coping with illness and disability that will offer children much-needed comfort.

You can purchase Finding Granny at https://www.booktopia.com.au/finding-granny-kate-simpson/prod9781925335699.html

Check out the rest of the links for the Finding Granny book tour:

Sunday July 1 – Saturday July 7 www.justkidslit.com/blog

Monday July 2 sharingyourstory.com.au

Tuesday July 3 intheirownwrite.wordpress.com

Wednesday July 4 blog.boomerangbooks.com.au

Thursday July 5 readingtime.com.au

Friday July 6 brydiewright.com

Saturday July 7 whenigrowupiwannawriteakidsbook.blogspot.com.au

 For all enquiries to Books On Tour @ www.justkidslit.com/books-on-tour

 

 

Meet the Author: Josey Hurley

Josey’s top tip for aspiring authors: Never give up and seize any opportunity – believe in the brilliance of your work.

Josey Hurley is a clinical psychologist who has worked in both educational and private settings. She loves stories – telling stories, reading stories and writing stories, that instil problem-solving skills, resilience and courage. Throughout her clinical work, she has seen the power and impact of words connecting to children’s lives by enabling them to feel safe in their world, manage their world, and to not feel alone.

She lives with her family on the South Coast of Western Australia.

Max the Mighty is her first children’s picture book.

AUTHOR INSIGHT

Why do you write? I love words and the genesis of them and am enthralled by the magic that happens and the messages that can be conveyed when the words become sentences that burst with life and connect us to each other.

What would you be doing if you weren’t a writer? My other two passions – working as a clinical psychologist and spending quality time in my art studio exploring the realms of pastels, acrylics and oils. I see both these areas equally as creative and I continue to be engaged with all three and feel very blessed that I am able to do so. And may it never stop!

What was your toughest obstacle to becoming published? Getting a rung on the board. Even though I have had ‘other’ items published (academic) this was different and more difficult.  When I met with publishers they were impressed, but I was unknown in this genre.

How involved have you been in the development of your books? Do you have input into the cover/illustrations? Yes, as it is about bringing the words alive and I have re-shined my negotiating skills. Finding a great Illustrator was essential and I have been very fortunate in finding the right match – which has resulted in a joyous journey.

What’s the best aspect of your writing life? Finding people that encourage and ‘get’ you.

—the worst? Editing – how many drafts?

What would you do differently if you were starting out now as a writer?

I would hungrily search for more support networks, such as SCBWI through which I made contact with the talented Teena Raffa-Mulligan.

What do you wish you’d been told before you set out to become an author? That it is a process that takes time and time and time and time – so you need stamina and perseverance.

What’s the best advice you were ever given? Never give up.

 

 

BOOK BYTE

Max the Mighty

Written by Josey Hurley, Illustrated by Katherine Appleby

Max is a much-loved dog with a great big problem: his mum and dad love the beach, but Max is terrified of the ocean! This is a charming book about challenging your fears, and learning to have a great time in the process.

 

Links to Sales Sites and Author Website

Dennis Jones is the National Distributor – Angus and Robertson/Booktopia/The Nile/Fishpond/QBD/Abbeys/Paperbark Merchants/Little Steps plus others.

Website being developed.

Direct sales to:

Josey Hurley email: alps.1@bigpond.net.au

Katherine Appleby website

 

Meet the Author: Mark Greenwood

Mark’s top tip for authors: To write well is an ongoing process. Strive to learn and improve. Don’t be easily discouraged. Read with a writer’s eye. If you write about history, learn to balance reading for pleasure with research.

mark-photo

Mark Greenwood’s award-winning books examining history, myths and legends have been published and honoured internationally.

Simpson and His Donkey was a CBCA Honour Book and a USBBY Outstanding International Book. Jandamarra, illustrated by Terry Denton, was shortlisted for the CBCA Eve Pownall Award, the NSW Premier’s Literary Awards Patricia Wrightson Prize for Children’s Literature and the West Australian Young Readers’ Book Awards.

Mark often teams with his wife, illustrator Frané Lessac, to produce books that promote an understanding of multicultural issues, such as Drummer Boy of John John, Magic Boomerang, Outback Adventure, and Our Big Island. Their recent titles include The Mayflower and Midnight – the story of a light horse.

Mark’s latest picture book is Boomerang and Bat, illustrated by Terry Denton.

In 2017 he will celebrate the release of four middle grade chapter books in his new series of History Mysteries.

Find out more about Mark and his books:

http://www.markgreenwood.com.au
http://www.facebook.com/markgreenwoodauthor
http://www.instagram.com/markgreenwoodauthor

AUTHOR INSIGHT

Why do you write? I write because I enjoy sharing stories.

What would you be doing if you weren’t a writer? Being published as a songwriter gave me the confidence to progress from writing lyrics to creating books for children. If I wasn’t writing, I’d probably be making music for a living. I also enjoy collecting rocks, minerals and fossils. Perhaps I’d be a geologist or a paleontologist.

What was your toughest obstacle to becoming published? Starting out, knock backs from publishers were frustrating. Since then, I’ve learnt that publishing is a tough, competitive business and there are far more highs than lows when you persevere with stories you believe in.

How involved have you been in the development of your books? Did you have input into the cover/illustrations? Many of my books are illustrated by my wife, Frané Lessac. I can visualise intuitively how she will paint a scene. With Jandamarra and Boomerang and Bat, I was happy to let Terry Denton’s art tell much of the story. To express what you have to say in fewer words is challenging but it makes the collaboration of text and art stronger. Having said that, I’ve never met Doug Holgate, the illustrator of my new History Mystery series…or Andrew McLean, the illustrator of a new picture book. I have faith in the publishers and the excellent reputation of the illustrators they’ve chosen.

What’s the best aspect of your writing life? I get to visit schools and speak at festivals and to spend time with other creative people. Through writing, I’ve been invited to many remote Indigenous communities. I particularly enjoy traveling to where my stories take place. Walking in the footsteps of my characters enriches me beyond writing a book.

—the worst? It took years of hard work, many rejections and hours of revising before my first book was published. Every writer has an impressive collection of rejections. They make us strong.

What would you do differently if you were starting out now as a writer? I would make more time to read and write.

What do you wish you’d been told before you set out to become an author? Being published once doesn’t make the next book any easier. Each new project requires that you work harder than the last one when you set high standards for your writing.

What’s the best advice you were ever given? Persevere and be patient. Embrace the solitude of writing. Talk things through with people you trust. Seek out great editors. Be open to constructive feedback and change – ‘work on it’ can take stories in wonderful, unexpected directions.

What inspired your two new titles? The spark to write Diamond Jack came from a visit to the historical museum in Broome. I was curious about the town’s wartime history, and intrigued by one particular photograph. It showed five men beside a bullet-riddled aircraft. They’d been sent on a mission to locate a missing treasure of diamonds. One of the men in the photo was Diamond Jack. I began collecting information about him from libraries and archives. Researching history is like going on a journey of discovery. It helps me balance creative interpretation with historical authenticity. On the surface, the story of Diamond Jack is a remarkable wartime adventure and a tale of survival against the odds. Beneath the surface, it is an incredible true story of an endearing character, forced to confront the consequences of an amazing discovery.

The mysterious disappearance of Ludwig Leichhardt is one of Australia’s greatest unsolved mysteries. It has always fascinated me. Some time ago, I stumbled upon an article about a gold prospector, a teenage boy and a small relic, said to have once belonged to the explorer. I began researching – brushing away layers of time. The discovery of the relic was a story within a story. It was a possible clue to our most baffling history mystery – the fate of Ludwig Leichhardt and his expedition.
I’m interested in the many personalities who have contributed to our history. My intention in writing The Lost Explorer was to encourage an understanding and appreciation of the sacrifice made by people like Ludwig Leichhardt, who went forth into the unknown at a time when Australia’s interior was uncharted by Europeans. I hope these History Mysteries connect readers to the characters and their situations, so that the past lives and breathes. My aim is that these stories become a springboard for deeper study and learning.


BOOK BYTE

Delve into some of Australian history’s most baffling mysteries!

On January 30, the first two ‘History Mysteries’ in Mark’s new middle grade chapter book series will be published by Penguin Random House/ Puffin Books:

diamond-jackDiamond Jack

Paperback   ISBN 9780143309260

In March 1942, an allied aircraft prepares for a desperate midnight escape from Java, taking refugees to safety in Australia. Just before take-off, the pilot is entrusted with a mysterious, wax-sealed package. When the plane is shot down by the enemy and crash lands on the Kimberley coast, the package is forgotten – until a beachcomber stumbles across the find of a lifetime . . .

The book is available for pre-order here.

lost-explorerThe Lost Explorer

Paperback   ISBN 9780143309277

In 1848, the famous explorer Ludwig Leichhardt sets out on an epic journey. His aim is to cross Australia from east to west, but he never reaches his destination and no one from his expedition is ever seen again. Countless search parties look for the lost explorer but no trace is ever found – until a young boy is given an artefact with an incredible story . . .

The book is available for pre-order here


Meet the Author: Sian Turner

Sian’s top tip: Don’t give up. Listen to and learn from the advice of people in the industry.

scbwi-march-2015-094-2Sian Turner spent a happy childhood growing up in Perth alongside her four siblings. Being part of a big family meant there was great company to share in imagination games, freedom to roam streets on bikes, and plenty of time to read books in the branches of a jacaranda tree in the backyard. Sian discovered she loved writing in primary school. She thrived on encouragement from teachers, and success in the CBCA Make Your Own Storybook competition. She carried this love through to her first career of physiotherapy, completing both an Honours degree, and a PhD while working on the busy wards of Sir Charles Gairdner Hospital.

Sian and husband James moved to the coastal town of Albany in 2007, where they have delighted raising their three children and tending a beautiful garden on their property. With this new chapter in her life, Sian has been excited to return to writing fiction – stories which she hopes will inspire and entertain this next generation as great books encouraged her when she was young. Beyond Our Garden Gate is her first published story. She is looking forward to the release of a second book with Wild Eyed Press in 2017. The NSW Education Department’s School Magazine is also publishing a couple of her pieces next year.

Find out more about Sian at her website: http://www.sianturnerbooks.com/

 

AUTHOR INSIGHT

Why do you write? I get great satisfaction playing around with words and ideas and seeing these evolve into stories. It’s addictive. The more I sit down and put pen to paper, the more I crave these opportunities of focus.

What would you be doing if you weren’t a writer? I’m a mother to three young children so I’m very busy in this role. Before the kids, I was a physiotherapist and active in both research and clinical roles at a major teaching hospital. I don’t think I’ll return to physiotherapy as a profession though, I’m enjoying writing too much, and have opportunities to develop our garden and property into bed and breakfast accommodation in the future.

What was your toughest obstacle to becoming published? Time and self-doubt following rejection letters.

How involved have you been in the development of your book? Did you have input into the illustrations? Because the manuscript is written from the children’s imagination, I was able to provide a guide of what I envisaged the children were doing in the real world to accompany the story.

What’s the best aspect of your writing life? Being able to escape into the worlds of my characters and watching them grow as the story twists with time.

—the worst? Having to come up to speed with social media!

What would you do differently if you were starting out now as a writer? Have a more organised filing system … it’s improving.

What do you wish you’d been told before you set out to become an author? Don’t get too over-enthusiastic with your first story drafts. Sit on them for a while before showing anyone.

What’s the best advice you were ever given? As above – file your stories away for a while before sending them off. A fresh glance a few months later can make the world of difference.

BOOK BYTE

wild-eyed-press_beyond-our-garden-gate_030416_front-cover-3

Prince Tom and Princess Molly must climb, run and fly to save their friend from a dragon. Sian Turner’s story of an adventurous day in the Australian Bush comes to life with Irene King’s playful illustrations.

 

The book is available from selected retailers and  http://www.wildeyedpress.com.au/

 

 

 

Meet the Author: Monique Mulligan

MONIQUE’S TOP WRITING TIP: Read widely, read well, and think about what you’re reading. Use your reading time to enjoy the words but also to learn about writing techniques and styles. I’ve learnt a lot about writing from reviewing books – it’s made me analyse and appreciate the diversity and talent out there.

I take particular pleasure in introducing today’s guest author Monique Mulligan, who as well as being a treasured friend who shares my passion for books and writing is also my daughter-in-law. It’s a thrill to celebrate this landmark publishing debut with her.

monique 15_1_ 16_13A former newspaper editor, journalist, children’s curriculum writer and magazine editor, Monique has had a varied career in writing. (Not to mention being a Family Day Care mother, a playgroup facilitator, a reception temp, administrative assistant, government administrative officer, marketing and media coordinator … all of which adds up to rich life experiences). In 2011, she set up a freelancing business from home, and created Write Note Reviews, a blog that celebrates her love of reading. In 2012, through her part-time work at Koorliny Arts Centre, she founded the successful Stories on Stage program, which features authors talking or being interviewed in a theatre setting.

Monique now has her sights set on becoming recognised as an author. Her short romance, The Point of Love, has been published by Serenity Press as part of the Rocky Romance anthology. She is now working on a full-length contemporary novel, as well as another short story. Or two.

W: https:/moniquemulligan.com

FB: https://www.facebook.com/MoniqueMulliganAuthor/

T: https://twitter.com/writenote1

AUTHOR INSIGHT

Why do you write? I write because it’s what I’m meant to do. I love crafting words into something beautiful and meaningful.

What would you be doing if you weren’t a writer? I’ve always imagined having a bookstore/tea shop of my own. I’ve even picked out a name.

What was your toughest obstacle to becoming published? Me. I had to commit time to write the things I yearned to write. And I kept thinking, “One day, when X happens or Y happens”. Once I made time, which meant getting up earlier in my case, things fell into place for me. First I had a romance published in an anthology called Rocky Romance, and then I had My Silly Mum published. But I suspect when my novel is finished, there will be more hurdles to jump.

What’s the best aspect of your writing life? Writing, talking about writing with other writers, and the writing community.

—the worst? When time gets taken by something else.

What would you do differently if you were starting out now as a writer? Start earlier! And stop doubting myself. That has been one of the biggest killers of my creativity.

What do you wish you’d been told before you set out to become an author? I wish I’d met the people I know now earlier because they have given me so much encouragement, feedback and support. I feel so privileged to know them. But before this? I wish I’d been told how much other stuff (marketing and so on) went into the business of being an author.

What’s the best advice you were ever given? Make some time for yourself to write. No excuses, just do it.

BOOK BYTE

MSM cover square shapeMy Silly Mum

Written by Monique Mulligan

Illustrated by Veronica Rooke

 

Dancing with the vacuum cleaner … making my dinner into funny faces. My mum is so silly she drives me nuts! Sometimes I wish my mum wasn’t so silly … or do I? 

With delightful illustrations and a hearty sprinkling of humour, My Silly Mum captures the eye-rolling, face-palming moments of growing up with a mother who still remembers what it’s like to be a child.

 

 

 

 

Meet author/illustrator Bianca Ross

BIANCA’S TOP WRITING TIP:  Allocate a two-hour block every day to writing, and stay with your schedule. All writers need discipline, and setting aside regular time slots ensures this happens. Spontaneous creativity may not always come along, but routine helps to foster it.

OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERABianca. C. Ross is a writer and a small-time farmer. One day when she was sitting in the garden at her farm, she decided she would write about Herbert Peabody, the farmer who digs food. She’d always enjoyed being read to when she was little, especially books with pictures. And she’d grown up in a house that had a big vegetable patch in the backyard.

The idea to write about Herbie had been brewing for a while. Bianca had always liked healthy food and this led her to work at some big food companies in Australia including dairy and fruit juice companies. She had always enjoyed communicating, and this saw her working in different ad agencies in France, Singapore and Australia.

Herbert Peabody and His Extraordinary Vegetable Patch is Herbie’s first adventure.

For more information about Bianca and Herbie, visit www.herbertpeabody.com

AUTHOR INSIGHT

Why do you write? I write because I love to. I enjoyed story writing in primary school, and wrote short stories and poems throughout secondary school and university. Writing copy evolved to be part of my career, and with the ‘Herbert Peabody’ book series, I write to entertain children, and hopefully their parents. Herbie shares important messages in a fun way through characters children can easily relate to, and I think it’s important for young readers to have positive and fun role models.

What would you be doing if you weren’t a writer? My passions are advertising and marketing, because both disciplines seek to communicate and engage people. It’s important to share an affinity with your audience and establish a connection with them, and understanding people has been fundamental to my career. This inspired me to write Herbert Peabody. My other dream would be to sing and perform.

What was your toughest obstacle to becoming published? Producing the book to the specs I wanted to best bring the story to life – colour and line illustrations, hard back, A5, with a map at the front so children could orientate themselves with where the stories are set. So, because I’m impatient (!) I self-published.

What’s the best aspect of your writing life? People telling me how much their child loves Herbert Peabody, and that he’s inspired them as a family to start growing their own herb pots or veggie patch. There are many wonderful stories to read, and I am both delighted and humbled when someone chooses mine.

—the worst? Having twenty four hours in one day. Inspiration comes along often, and there is not enough time in one day to record it!

What would you do differently if you were starting out now as a writer? I would take time to enjoy the writing process – the suspense, tension and inspiration – rather than worry about the result. Knowing readers enjoy my work is encouraging, and I now appreciate planning, writing and editing to produce the best work I can.

What do you wish you’d been told before you set out to become an author? To find a writing mentor. I’m lucky to have met writer, Les Zig, and designer, Luke Harris, who welcomed me to the world of writing. Their patience and encouragement compelled me to stay.

What’s the best advice you were ever given? To unfold a story slowly, and deliver the ending in a compelling way that gets to the point. Good writing is like going to a great party and leaving while it’s still swinging. It’s the mystery and the tease that entices the reader, and the wrap should leave them wanting more.

BOOK BYTE

Herbie 2 smlHerbert Peabody is a farmer who grows fruit and vegetables in his big, big vegetable patch at Mulberry Tree Farm. When his niece Clementine and nephew Digby come to stay for the school holidays, Herbie can’t understand why they know so little about vegetables. But there’s a bigger problem: a local bakery is under threat and needs Herbie’s help. Can Herbie teach Clementine and Digby the importance of vegetables? And with some hard work and a little bit of magic, can they make something extraordinary happen?”

You can buy the book here.