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Archive for the tag “Author blog tours”

My Unforgettable Year – Adem Besim

Adem BesimToday I have pleasure in welcoming debut author, Adem Besim, to share some of his writing process as he stops off on his tour to launch his first novel – My Unforgettable Year, published by Morris Publishing.

Adem was born, raised and still lives in Kyabram, Victoria – the setting of his novel – a coming-of-age story about triumph and tragedy, love and loss, acceptance and letting go.

Life’s looking pretty awesome for 17-year-old, Nathan Thompson. He’s the goal-kicking superstar from the small town of Kyabram. Nathan’s in his final year of school and has big plans set for the future; like winning the Thirds’ premiership cup, acing his Year Twelve exams, and finally graduating. One problem – his tough and over-bearing father, Mark, has other plans for him. He desperately wants Nathan to be the next AFL player to come out of Kyabram.

He seems set to stop Nathan from following his dreams of studying architecture at university. But a thirty-year-old secret of Mark’s that resurfaces on Nathan’s 18th birthday changes everything. Will it force Nathan and his father further apart or help them reconcile their fragile relationship?

On top of that problem, Nathan’s year gets worse as he deals with death, bullying and first love.

My Unforgettable year cover

Congratulations on the launch of your debut novel, Adem. And welcome to From Hook to Book.

What inspired you to write My Unforgettable Year i.e. character/setting/story idea?

I guess living in Kyabram all my life, and writing down the experiences I had in high school and growing up, I was bound to create a fiction story out of it someday. It all came to me over about a three-year period.

Are you a plotter or a pantser? In other words, how did the story evolve for you, through planning or in the writing?

I am definitely a plotter and a very precise one! I wrote down the initial idea, then after a long period of time, I added the key events I wanted to happen in the book, then the characters and the settings and then planning the order of the events in a story arc form.

My Unforgettable Year is written about your home town, Adem. How difficult was it to separate factual events and people from fiction and to avoid members of your community perhaps thinking that characters in the story are them?

Good question! Well, even though it’s set in a real town, my ideas and characters have always been fiction. There are certainly things in the book that people (especially the Young Adult audience) will be able to relate to – that’s been one of the biggest points behind writing the book – as well as writing about some things I went through or wished I experienced!

The story is written in a singular, first-person viewpoint and reads much like a journal of Nathan’s day-to-day life through VCE. What devices did you use to reveal characterisation of the other major and minor characters?

It was just a matter of careful planning and making sure that each scene took the story further in terms of both the characters and plot.

Being a younger author, in what ways is it harder and/or easier to write YA characters?

I was a teenager not too long ago, and started planning this when I was my main character’s age. Also, I’m still quite immature! I also read YA stuff and realist fiction novels. I was told from my earliest work for the book that the voice of the teen was very believable, so I just stuck at it.

What are you working on now?

I have a few other manuscripts in the works. All complete and edited, but I do want to give each of them some polishing up. My next one ventures a bit more into adult fiction (as the main characters are in their thirties) but it is still at a readable level for the YA audience. It is much different from my first book, and certainly not set in my town. It’s in America, this time!

Thank you very much for sharing some insights into your writing process and the evolution of your story, Adem. Best wishes for a bright future for you and My Unforgettable Year.

Thank you, Chris.

 

Follow Adem’s blog tour:

Nov 14 http://clancytucker.blogspot.com.au

November 15 http://www.robynopie.blogspot.com

November 16 http://www.morrispublishingaustralia.com/news-update-blog

November 19 http://www.kids-bookreview.com

November 20 http://elaineoustonauthor.com

November 23 http://authorjillsmith.wordpress.com

November 27 https://christinemareebell.wordpress.com

December 1 http://www.buzzwordsmagazine.com

December 4 www.sherfordbear.co.uk

BOOK INFORMATION:
TITLE: My Unforgettable Year
Author:   Adem Besim
ISBN:           978-0-9925052-7-1
Publisher: Morris Publishing

 

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Story vs Character – Snap Magic Angela Sunde

ASunde.1d.WEBWelcome and warmest congratulations to my lovely and very talented writer friend, Angela Sunde, on publication of her latest book Snap Magic, another exciting Lily Padd adventure. Angela is visiting From Hook to Book today both to celebrate the launch of Snap Magic and to answer one of my favourite questions of writers – Story or Character – name your bliss, please, Angela?!

Hi there, Chris. Thank you for hosting me on your blog today. I’m very excited to be discussing ‘story versus character’ with you, as both plot and characterisation compete for attention in Snap Magic.

Lily Padd is a gorgeous character, Angela, and the kind of girl many teens would want as their best friend. Lily’s story is fun and humorous woven into a plotline full of secrets, bullies and twists – not to mention pumpkin soup. As a fellow writer, I’m keen to know whether you write from character or plot?

I always begin with a character and a problem. In my Aussie Chomp, Pond Magic, Lily couldn’t stop burping. In this new book, Snap Magic, Lily has a problem (amongst others) that is out of her control – long black hairs keep sprouting from her chin. From there I immediately leap into plot, mind mapping various scenarios and reasons behind Lily’s sudden facial hair with possible solutions – the crazier the scenario the better. This is why I enjoy placing the element of magic in my books; it makes anything possible within a believable world. Once I have a skeleton plot on paper, the focus on character jumps back in. How Lily, her best friend Maureen, classmates and family react and behave in each scene becomes the thrust that pushes the story forward.

SM.cover.119KB copyWas it the story idea or the character of Lily that led you to write a sequel to Pond Magic?

An interesting question. I think it was the character of Lily. She is such a strong, and (as my editor says) ‘sparky’ character who simply did not go away. Her timid avoidance responses to difficult situations in the beginning of Snap Magic evokes empathy from the tween reader and makes Lily very relatable. But the worse things become for her, the stronger Lily’s will to get to the bottom of things. Her character develops resilience through the story; she still braves the Halloween Dance in spite of the mean girl Ellen’s threats.

Is character or plot the biggest driver of Lily’s story in Snap Magic?

Plot and character sit side by side in Snap Magic. Each takes a turn to drive the story. Characters like the witch, Mrs Swan; the teacher, Mr C; and Lily’ s parents, who constantly embarrass her with their habit of pushing pumpkin soup and Snap ‘n’ Snack plastic ware onto all and sundry, add to the colour and fabric of the plot. Without them it wouldn’t work.

How do you most connect with Lily? Do you and she have any similarities or shared experiences?

I knew you’d ask me this! Am I Lily? Just a bit. I write from a twelve-year-old’s perspective. It seems to be where my narrative voice is most comfortable. Walking along with my back to the wall as a mid grader? Yes, that was me. Waiting till Mum was in the toilet to tell her stuff? Yup, me. I remember the discomfort and embarrassment of being twelve and the changes I was going through. And it seems I’m not the only one.

It’s a big undertaking to self-publish a book. When and/or how did you know that Lily was up for another adventure? And what excited you to go on the journey with her?

I had a team of high-level, industry professionals work on the book with me through a grant from the Regional Arts Development Fund, which validated it’s worth as a project. My editor for Snap Magic is my former senior editor at Penguin Australia (Pond Magic). My book designer is a highly experienced industry designer. I am the author and illustrator.

Snap Magic, as a unpublished manuscript, had received very positive feedback from my Penguin editor, when she advised me the Aussie Chomps list was closed. Snap Magic was also long-listed for the UK Greenhouse Funny Prize with a full manuscript request. Other trade publishers wished it were longer, but its Aussie Chomps length meant it did not find a home. What’s more, I wanted Snap Magic to be a sister book to Pond Magic with the same editor and no name changes. The only way to achieve that was to create my own publishing imprint, Red Pedal Press, and employ my own team of professionals.

Plus both my editor and I loved the story as it was.

SM.Signature.Promo.750x250Consequences are a big part of this story. Do you see consequences as a natural progression of the plot points or more connected to character motivations?

Thanks for asking this. We mulled it over quite a bit during the editing process. With two class bullies (one overt and one covert) consequences were a very important aspect of the plot. My editor and I didn’t want readers to feel the bullies had not had to deal with any consequences for their actions. My long experience as a teacher of this age group gave me insight and knowledge, but I also double-checked everything on government websites. For the bullies, the consequences are a natural and real result of their characters’ actions and motivations. The magical consequences of Mrs Swan’s solution are an integral part of the plot too and add to the humour and final hilarious climax.

Lastly, we all really want to know – are there further adventures on the horizon for Lily and her friends?

It’s ever so tempting to pop out another Aussie Chomp length novel about Lily Padd. Twelve thousand words seems to be the perfect length to integrate enough drama, hilarity and plot twists into my characters’ lives. Can I do it? Yes, the formula is in my magic recipe book. And with Snap Magic also being available as e-book, it has opened new avenues and platforms for me to reach my readers. So why not?

Thanks for having me on the blog, Chris. I loved chatting to you.

Thank you so much for stopping by From Hook to Book, Angela, and sharing both your and Lily’s journeys and how writing from character and plot influences a writer’s story. Best wishes for the rest of your blog tour and more magical adventures.

About the Author: 

ASunde.1d.WEBAngela Sunde is the author of the light-hearted fantasy novels Snap Magic, and Pond Magic (an Aussie Chomp – Penguin Australia.) Awarded a May Gibbs Children’s Literature Trust Fellowship in 2013, Angela represents the Gold Coast as a committee member of the Queensland branch of The Society of Children’s Book Writers and Illustrators and is the editor of the Redlands City Council’s ‘Junior Redlitzer Anthology 2014.’ Formerly an award-winning language and literacy teacher, she is also a children’s writing judge and offers workshops at libraries and schools. www.angelasunde.com

snap-cover-e.signatureJoin Angela and Lily Padd on their tour of the blogosphere:

 

Monday 13 October Kids Book Review  http://www.kids-bookreview.com

Tuesday 14 October Sheryl Gwyther http://sherylgwyther.wordpress.com

Wednesday 15 October Robyn Opie http://www.robynopie.blogspot.com.au

Karen Tyrrell http://www.karentyrrell.com

Thursday 16 October Alison Reynolds http://www.alisonreynolds.com.au

Friday 17 October Chris Bell – From Hook to Book https://christinemareebell.wordpress.com

Saturday 18 October Boomerang Books Blog http://blog.boomerangbooks.com.au

Dimity Powell http://dimswritestuff.blogspot.com.au/

Sunday 18 October Sandy Fussell / The Reading Stack http://sandyfussell.blogspot.com.au  http://thereadingstack.blogspot.com.au

Monday 20 October Aussiereviews http://aussiereviews.com

Tuesday 21 October Dee White http://deescribewriting.wordpress.com

Wednesday 22 October Angela Sunde’s Blog Tour Wrap Up http://angelasunde.blogspot.com.au

 

 

A New Friend for Marmalade – Alison Reynolds

Today I welcome international best-selling author, wonderful writer and friend, Alison Reynolds to celebrate the launch of her, and very talented illustrator, Heath McKenzie’s newest picture book A New Friend for Marmalade.

Alison Pith Helmet

A New Friend for Marmalade is the sequel to Alison and Heath’s first collaboration, A Year with Marmalade, which has sold more than a whopping 30,000 copies and is being released in the USA by publisher Simon and Schuster in July. Alison is also the multi-talented, best selling author of the Ranger in Danger, Why I love and Baby Talk series as well as the gorgeous picture book The Littlest Bushranger. 

Hi Alison,

Welcome back to From Hook to Book. Thank you for stopping by on the very first day of your blog tour. Warmest congratulations to both you and Heath on the launch of A New Friend for Marmalade, your gorgeous new Marmalade adventure.

Thanks for the invite, Chris. I love reading From Hook to Book, so very nice to be here.

A Friend for Marmalade_COVER_PB copy

Ella, Maddy and Marmalade are best friends. Then one day everything changes when Toby, the boy from across the road wants to play with them. This gentle story is about accepting people, even when they do things a little differently from you. And it all revolves around a very special little cat named Marmalade.

 

Alison, I’m so in awe of how in A Year with Marmalade you manage to portray the complexity of how we are all different and play differently, yet can play together. Can you explain the thought process or process of elimination it takes for a picture book author to boil down such complexity to a minimum of words that expresses it so simply and beautifully?

I actually wrote this by writing a list of my thoughts about the two friends from A Year with Marmalade, and a new annoying boy  who wants to be friends, but doesn’t understand how to make friends.

I  jotted down random thoughts, for instance Toby, the new boy, annoys the girls so I thought of what he could do to annoy them without meaning to be annoying. I didn’t actually worry about the storyline, but kept writing down images and thinking what if? Eventually, a story emerged. I eliminated a lot of the extraneous words  and ideas that didn’t further the main narrative. There’s usually no room for going off on a tangent in a picture book. I always have to remember that simple is good, especially when you’re dealing with complex issues.

A Friend for Marmalade_Internals_PB_Page_06 copyA New Friend for Marmalade is really as much about the girls’ acceptance of a new friend too. There’s a significant, but subtly shown, change going on when the girls must not only share their space and creative play, but their beloved cat Marmalade too. There’s a lot going on. A lot of tolerance required by the girls for the new boy who clumsily upsets their games and yet still wins over the affection of Marmalade. As the writer, what came first for you the theme or the story?

This book started with the theme. The publisher suggested the sequel be about friendship and accepting other people even when they are different to you. I imagined an exuberant boy, Toby, who wants to be liked and make friends with Ella, Maddy and Marmalade. Astute Marmalade can see that Toby is a good friend, although he is very different from him. It takes the girls a little longer to realise this, but eventually they do. I can imagine how irritating the girls found it that when they were trying to give Toby “the cold shoulder” and Marmalade loved Toby. I really enjoyed writing that strand.

The resolution in the story got me to thinking and wondering: Is it the commonality of the childrens’ shared concern/common goal to rescue Marmalade that unites them in friendship as much as tolerance? Do you think this is a strategy that schools and those working with children might employ to bring together warring factions or isolated children – a common goal or concern?

I think by the resolution, the girls were beginning to soften towards Toby. They had the example of how much Marmalade liked Toby, suggesting that Toby was really a nice person. I do believe that sharing a common goal unites people. And the process of working together allows you to get to know another person better and most times you end up liking them.

I do think a shared concern or common goal can be used to bring together warring factions or isolated children. Often people don’t like somebody they regard as being the “Other” but once they are in a situation to really know them, their feelings can change. I don’t think that children are often given the skills to befriend somebody who is different to them. They can feel awkward and scared of doing the wrong thing and hurting the other person’s feelings. It’s easier in a sense to isolate that person. I can remember being scared of children who were different when I was little. I’m not sure why looking back.  I never bullied anybody, but I probably kept away from children who were perceived as different.  I didn’t know what to do. In this book I’m trying to show that if you accept that not everybody is the same, that can lead to different, special friendships. Toby’s brilliant idea to use the cape not only acts as a solution to Marmalade’s problem drawing the children together, but also provides the children with an excuse to be together and develop a friendship. I always felt they all wanted to be friends, but only Marmalade knew how to make a new friend.

Have you experienced a “Toby” in your life, Alison? If yes, what swung your affection his or her way?

I’ve met a “Toby” or two. Luckily, I’ve developed much better social skills and know to give people “a go”. I think if you look hard enough there’s always something to like in most people. Nobody was born mean, and most people are lovely if you give them the chance.

I should also admit that I based the character on the exuberant character of our beloved Labrador, Toby. He would run through boxes, upset drinks with his wagging tail, and lick our faces if we fell over. He never meant to be a slobbering nuisance. He just wanted to join in.

A Friend for Marmalade_COVER_PB copyA Year with Marmalade_cropped

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Alison, I’ve heard a thrilling whisper that Marmalade is taking a trip abroad. Can you tell us about this exciting development?

Yes, A New Friend for Marmalade has already been released in the UK by The Five Mile Press UK and is padding in A Year with Marmalade’s paws by being published by Little Simon (Simon and Schuster US) in July this year. He is a well travelled cat!

A New Friend for Marmalade is published by The Five Mile Press ISBN: 9781743466599

Visit Alison on her website www.alisonreynolds.com.au.

WIN, WIN, WIN! – GREAT WRITER & PET OWNER COMPETITIONS:

As part of Alison’s blog tour she is offering some fantastic prizes in two different competitions. Anyone, any age, can enter her  fantastic PET PHOTO competition and AUTHORS get the fabulous opportunity to JUMP THE PUBLISHER’S SLUSH PILE.

Jump the Slush Pile

Win a free pass to a Children’s editor’s desk. Just comment on this blog post or any other blog during the A New Friend for Marmalade blog tour and add the initials CB. The more you comment, the more chances you have to win the draw.

Win a free pass to a Non-fiction commissioning editor’s desk.  Just comment on this blog post or any other blog during the A New Friend for Marmalade blog tour and add the initials NF. The more you comment, the more chances you have to win the draw.

Win an assessment of Chapter One of a chapter book by the fabulous mentor extraordinaire Dee White. http://deescribewriting.wordpress.com/   Just comment on this blog post or any other blog during the A New Friend for Marmalade blog tour and add the initials DW. The more you comment, the more chances you have to win the draw.

Win a free picture book assessment by Alison! Just comment on this blog post or any other blog during the A New Friend for Marmalade blog tour and add the initials PB. The more you comment, the more chances you have to win the draw.

Pet Photo contest – for all ages!

Marmalade the cat is full of personality. Do you have a pet with personality? Win a piece of artwork by Heath McKenzie. Send along a photo of your personality-plus pet to www.alisonreynolds.com.aualrey@msn.com.au or upload to https://www.facebook.com/alison.reynolds.524

Random book giveaways!

Just leave a comment on one of the posts in the blog tour, comment on facebook or even email me that you want to enter competition to win A New Friend for Marmalade.

FOLLOW ALISON’S BLOG TOUR

11th March Dee White – review and post http://deescribewriting.wordpress.com

11th March Chris Bell – interview https://christinemareebell.wordpress.com

12th March Angela Sunde – interview with Heath http://angelasunde.blogspot.com.au

12th March KBR – book giveaway http://www.kids-bookreview.com

13th March Boomerang Books – Post with Dimity Powell http://blog.boomerangbooks.com.au/author/dpowell

14th March KBR Guest post http://www.kids-bookreview.com

14th March KBR Review http://www.kids-bookreview.com

14th March Sally Murphy – Meet my book http://aussiereviews.com/reviews/blog

15th March Buzz Words – Interview http://www.buzzwordsmagazine.com

17th March Ask the Bean Counter – Mr X http://www.alisonreynolds.com.au

17th March Pass-it-on Post and Review – Jackie Hosking http://jackiehoskingpio.wordpress.com/school-magazine

18th March Ask the Publisher – Kay Scarlett http://www.alisonreynolds.com.au

Tagged

Alison Pith HelmetI have been tagged by lovely and prolific writer and friend Alison Reynolds to share my writing process in the “Tagged” blog tour. A bit of a worry since, as a child, I was “Chris of the Scabby Knees”, more likely to fall over than tag anyone. So just as well email is faster than me at tagging.

The Littlest bushranger_FRONT COVERAlison Reynolds is the author of the gorgeous A Year with Marmalade and The Littlest Bushranger picture books as well as the popular Ranger in Danger (choose your own adventure) series. And, “TA DA”, very, very soon a brand new Marmalade adventure. In fact, I’m excited to host Alison – next week – on her whirlwind blog tour to help launch A New Friend for Marmalade.

To find out more about Alison and more of her brilliant books you can visit her website at http://www.alisonreynolds.com.au.

What am I working on?

I am working on a YA historical novel set in convict Tasmania. It’s a bit scary saying that, because really it’s done and time to send it out into the world. That’s the hard part though, because a writer always fears – it might come back.

DSC03909 copyHow does my work differ from others in its genre?

When writing my last two novels, both the main characters’ voices  arrived strong and distinct. I hope this originality of voice will help set them apart from some other historical works. I write very much from story rather than the historical period I’m writing in. Of course, I want the details and history to be correct, but I don’t want to give my reader a history lesson. Detail is soon sacrificed if it ruins the moment or pace.

Rue de Kanga - Peronne copyRooDeKanga 1918 Peronne copyWhy do I write what I write?

These days I write mostly historical fiction because it’s become an absolute passion for me and, as it turns out, it’s what I’ve always loved most to read. Starting with A Little Bush Maid by Mary Grant Bruce, back in the days when I could read all night by torchlight to get to the end of a book or crash to sleep trying. I get so lost in the research, learning about the different ways of doing day-to-day tasks, gutting and skinning rabbits, lighting a fire, dressing and talking, that sometimes I forget to write.

I love that I get to talk to so many interesting people from all over the world too, including an ex-Scottish coal miner, the owner of a French chateau, and an expert on antique weapons, discussing everything from botany to broomsticks, cockatoos to crinolines. Plus I’ve been fortunate to go to some truly amazing places. A lot of the time only in my mind, yes. But my research has taken me to Scotland, down a real coal mine, onto the battlefields and into towns in France still bearing the scars of WW1, and forced me to face some fears stepping nervously through tunnels deep under the city of Arras.OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERA

How does my writing process work?

My process varies depending on what I’m writing. For short titles, I tend to plot first and then write out the story. But for my historical novels, I found the settings first and then the main characters arrived. I always knew what the problem/conflict was to start, just not how my character would solve it. With a basic starting point, I wrote to find out how things turned out. Themes and subplots emerged later, through many hours of daydreaming, midnight musing and redrafting, as well as during the writing.

ww1 mortar in wall IMG_1351 copyUntil I really get to know a character, many thousands of words into the writing, I can’t know how they will react to different challenges or what decisions they might make. Sometimes they surprise me and their decisions can lead to a plot twist that I wasn’t planning on. I can write copious notes in notebooks, ideas and scenes, and possible scenarios for the story, yet when I look back, months later, it has all turned out so differently. The character/s I planned in my notebook never turn out the same as the one/s that come to life on the page.

OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERAIt’s  thrilling when a new character I hadn’t planned turns up. Shattering when one dies unexpectedly, yet rightly for the story. Sometimes things occur because they’re inevitable and no other way things could have worked out.

Then the editing process begins. Stuff gets chucked out, stuff gets rewritten and stuff gets added. So I guess my process is not systematic, though I’m always in control, even if I do have to wrench it back sometimes from my characters.

Now it’s my turn to tag. I’m out of breath, but have managed to catch up with three wonderful writers and friends.

Liz CorbettElizabeth Jane Corbett is a fellow writing group buddy and beautiful historical fiction writer. When she isn’t writing, Elizabeth Jane works as a librarian, teaches Welsh and blogs at elizabethjanecorbett.com. In her spare time, she also writes copy and reviews for the Historical Novels Review. In 2007, an early draft of her historical novel, Chrysalis, was shortlisted for a HarperCollins Varuna manuscript development award. In 2009, her short-story, Beyond the Blackout Curtain, won the Bristol Short Story Prize. Another story, Silent Night, was also shortlisted for the Allan Marshall Short Story Award. She is currently in the final stages of re-drafting her original historical novel. She expects to have it ready for submission by the middle of the year.

clairesaxbyThe multi-talented Claire Saxby is hard to catch. She’s busy, busy with three new picture books in production and the author of the stunning Big Red and gorgeous Sea Dog.  Claire writes fiction, non-fiction and poetry for children. She has published picture books and chapter books, short stories and articles. Her poetry appears in magazines, anthologies, on train walls and in museum resources. Claire lives in Melbourne and loves it, despite what anyone says about the weather.

Claire’s most recent picture books are ‘Meet the ANZACS’ illustrated by Max Berry (Random House), ‘Big Red Kangaroo’ illustrated by Graham Byrne (Walker Books) and ‘Seadog’, illustrated by Tom Jellett (Random House) which won the  Speech Pathology Award for Young Children in 2013. You can learn more about Claire on her website.

KatApel_Bully_B&W_SmLastly I’ve stretched all the way to QLD to tag the beautiful and very talented, Kathryn Apel. I met Kat through Month of Poetry, which she runs and coordinates each year. Kat was born and bred a farm girl – but she’s still scared of cows! Kat lives amongst the gum trees, kangaroos and cattle, on a grazing property in Queensland. Her chapter book, ‘Fencing with Fear’ is part of the Aussie! Read! series, and her rural rhyming picture book, ‘This is the Mud!’ has been read by Justine on ABC PlaySchool. Kat’s verse novel for younger readers, ‘Bully on the Bus’ will be released in July, with UQP. Prior to publication it won the published author’s manuscript section of the 2012 CYA Competition.

Kathryn co-ordinates Month of Poetry each January, and has had poetry published in magazines and on CD in Australia and New Zealand.

You can read more about her work at katswhiskers.wordpress.com

Paul Collins – Writing Across Genres

Today I’m excited to welcome award-winning author/publisher Paul Collins to share his experience writing across genres and celebrate the launch of not just one, but two new books.

Paul CollinsEMiPaul is best known for The Quentaris Chronicles, which he co-edits with Michael Pryor, The Jelindel Chronicles, The Earthborn Wars and The World of Grrym trilogy in collaboration with Danny Willis.

Paul has been short-listed for many awards and won the Aurealis, William Atheling and the inaugural Peter McNamara awards. He has had two Notable Books in the Children’s Book Council of Australia Awards.

Congratulations, Paul, on the recent release of both The Only Game in the Galaxy (book three in the The Maximus Black Files) and your first adult novel The Beckoning.

You have been published in an incredibly diverse range of genres from picture story book/chapter book/YA fantasy and science fiction through to adult thriller. A very impressive range. I’m curious to know how you cross genres so successfully both from the writing and promotional aspects.

It’s really a matter of encompassing cross-subsidisation. Writers are notoriously the worst paid workers around. Who else would work for a year and risk not being paid? Writers do this all the time. So early on I realised that if I were to make writing a full time career, I needed to work several jobs, and jobs that allowed me to write. Hence, I opened bookshops. These didn’t pay much, so I worked as a bouncer in hotels at nights. During the day, I’d write stories in my various shops. This worked for around twenty-five years until I started making more from my writing than both my security work and bookshops. I knew I had to edit anthologies, write chapter books and non-fiction titles for education publishers, and as an indulgence, ‘real’ books. I say ‘real’ meaning thicker, substantial books. But even though I’ve been published by most of the major publishers, I have to admit that these ‘real’ books aren’t in any way lucrative. I don’t want to sound like it’s a monetary thing, but if you’re serious about being a career author, you do need to look at what you make from it. I’ve never received writing grants.

ONLY GAME FRONT Newsletter

With two concurrent newly published titles, The Only Game in the Galaxy and The Beckoning, how are you splitting/sharing your promotional time and energy on such different projects and readerships?

This was tough in one sense as I’m primarily known as a writer for younger readers. But luckily for me most of my contacts were curious as to how I came to write an adult horror novel. Most wondered where I found the time. But this in itself proved a marketable story. I wrote it around 30 years ago – the counter of several bookshops as I mentioned. I typed it onto a computer in the 90s, saved it via various storage devices such as 3.5 floppies, CDs, zip drives, USB sticks. Suddenly I noticed on Buzz Words that Damnation Books was after horror books so figured what the heck, I’d submit it. So all the blogs I wrote and interviews I gave, I got to mention The Beckoning, although primarily people were interested in The Only Game in the Galaxy. So they both got equal billing. And it seems to have worked. Both titles made the Top 100 on various Amazon pages. The Beckoning actually made #7 on the psychic thriller page, just six spots behind Stephen King’s latest novel. It’s been in the Top 100 ever since it was published. The Only Game in the Galaxy is also in the Top 100 on the spies’ page.

The Beckoning is your first published adult novel. What (if any) differences or contrasts can you make between writing for young adult readers and writing for adult readers?

Not much, really. Simply because most kids books have, surprise, surprise, kids in them. The Beckoning also features a kid. But whereas a kid’s book would be told from the kid’s POV, an adults book focuses on an adult’s POV. So The Beckoning is told from Briony’s father’s POV.

The Beckoning _150dpi_eBook

The Beckoning was thirty years from first writing to publication. How much changed since that original version and in what ways did you need to alter it to suit a changed world and readership?

 Believe it or not, very little. A few things have changed, such as the cost of living, mobile phones and such, but generally the novel stood the test of time. I was tempted to ‘set’ the time period as mid eighties, but there was no need to. I did change some text to suit the US market, but that too was minimal. The Beckoning is a real time capsule to what I was writing back then. I was recently reminded that I also have another horror novel sitting in a box somewhere. Unfortunately this one was never converted to a computer, so I’d need to find time to type it again. And who knows, perhaps it’s best left in the box. I have to say I’m staggered by the reviews The Beckoning is getting. Over the thirty years it’s been rejected by many publishers. The closest it came to being published was reaching the long list of Lothian’s short-lived adult horror series.

Paul, you have said that there is nothing to like about Maximus Black as a character, breaking a taboo in publishing that says authors need to make their protagonist likeable if they expect readers to follow his/her journey. Yet readers have embraced Maximus. What do you think it is about him and his stories that appeals to readers amd keeps them reading?

Tough question! I can’t answer directly – you’d be better off asking readers that question. I thought perhaps readers would relate to Max’s nemesis, the irrepressible Anneke Longshadow. But so many reviewers have basically been behind Maximus Black. Maybe I’ve somehow reached down into his soul and exposed him in some inexplicable way that readers have picked up on? Dunno. I do know that I asked a good friend of mine to have a read of the first title, Mole Hunt, and he thoroughly detested Maximus. The book depressed him. And yet readers across the board disagree with this first reader – as you can imagine, I’m much relieved!

Will the reader see another side of Maximus Black in The Only Game in the Galaxy being the final book in the series?

Certainly. He does become more ‘human’ throughout the trilogy. I can sort of see how readers would ‘finally’ relate to him. But not from the beginning, which they did.

We hear a lot these days about “author branding”and how writers need to focus on one genre to build a “brand” for themselves, their books and their publisher. As the wearer of dual hats, as both author and as Publisher at Ford Street Publishing, how important to you think author “branding” is?

It obviously works for some people. But like I mentioned, I’ve had to write across the board – everything from picture books through to books for adults. I don’t see how I could brand myself with this work ethic. It simply wouldn’t work. Publishers expect you to remain loyal to them so as not to dilute their investment in you. But let’s be realistic: writing one book a year is not going to feed you, much less pay the bills. Only a small percentage of authors can make a living in Australia writing one book a year and sticking with a single publisher.

Do you have any advice for writers wanting to write across genres and readership ages?

Reading books across genres and readerships helps. See what the main publishers are publishing. Don’t be afraid to take risks: send your manuscripts out to as many publishers as it takes to get them published. And remember, we all get rejections. Be persistent. Take on board editorial tips for improvement if they’re offered. Subscribe to magazines such as PIO and Buzz Words. You only need to discover one market to which you sell a story or a novel, and you’ve more than made back your investment.

You have published a phenomenol 150+ books, Paul. Is there any advice that you wish you’d been given as a young, emerging writer or something in particular that you’ve learned that you’d like to share with the readers of this post?

Apart from the above, I wish I’d participated in some writing courses. I pretty much went it alone and made mistakes, but never had anyone to show me where I was going wrong. I think a mentor would’ve proven invaluable; would’ve certainly been a short-cut to getting novels published. Despite writing my first novels in the early eighties, it wasn’t until the mid nineties that I sold The Wizard’s Torment to HarperCollins. Not until then did I realise that I was on the right track.

Thank you for visiting From Hook to Book, Paul, and sharing your insights and experiences. Congratulations again on publication of both The Only Game in the Galaxy and The Beckoning. 

Paul’s latest titles are available at Amazon:

The Beckoning: Kindle and print: http://tinyurl.com/ny6urwy

The Only Game in the Galaxy at Amazon: http://tinyurl.com/mshxpsx

Print: http://tinyurl.com/lfubra6

The Only Game in the Galaxy

ONLY GAME FRONT NewsletterIn a galaxy of cutthroat companies, shadowy clans and 
a million agendas, spy agency RIM barely wields enough control to keep order. Maximus Black is RIM’s star cadet. But he has a problem. One of RIM’s best agents, Anneke Longshadow, knows there’s a mole in the organisation.

And Maximus has a lot to hide.

Ford Street Publishing   ISBN: 9781925000061

The Beckoning

The Beckoning _150dpi_eBookWhen evil intent is just the beginning…
Matt Brannigan is a lawyer living on the edge. His daughter, Briony is psychic and trouble shadows his family wherever they go.
Cult guru Brother Desmond knows that the power within Briony is the remaining key he needs to enter the next dimension. Once he controls this, he will have access to all that is presently denied him.
When Briony is indoctrinated into the Zarathustrans, Matt and psychic Clarissa Pike enter the cult’s headquarters under the cover of night to rescue her.
So begins Armageddon…

Damnation Books LLC   ASIN: B00F5I6ZWE

Paul Collins website

Ford Street PublishingFordStemail-sig

The Littlest Bushranger comes to town

Today I welcome wonderful writer and friend, Alison Reynolds to celebrate the launch of her latest picture book The Littlest Bushranger.

Alison Pith HelmetAlison is the multi-talented, much published author of the Ranger Danger series, A Year with Marmalade and For You Mum amongst her many other titles. Prolific, dedicated and professional describe Alison’s work ethic. Gorgeous, evocative and imaginative describe her books.

The Littlest Bushranger embodies all these adjectives and is a delightful rendering of a child’s imagination at play. Vivid descriptions transform an ordinary backyard into the bush, a bird into an outlaw, a hose into a snake and the adventure begins with Jack in pursuit of the villain.The Littlest bushranger_FRONT COVER

When Jack’s big sister Lil starts school, he is left with only his faithful dog Hector for company and Lil’s favourite toy to protect. But an ordinary day transforms into an extraordinary one when Jack’s called upon to do battle with a fiendish villain… 

This book will prove inspirational to today’s child readers who often miss the chance to day-dream and explore their imaginations with so much fully formed fare lade on for them in video games, instant digital amusements and movies on demand. It brought so many memories back to my mind of games of make-believe my sisters and I shared as children and adventures in my own imagination. I love the reminder that make-believe is fun and can transform the ordinary into the extraordinary.

The text of The Littlest Bushranger evokes Jack’s adventure through strong verbs and fast paced action. The fantastic imagery of the “murky billabong”, a dark shape swooping, hurdling a snake, splashing through a billabong, paint word pictures in my mind as vivid as the wonderful images on the page.

Heath McKenzie’s  http://www.heathmck.com fabulous illustrations show the wild adventure in Jack’s imagination – the fierce battle, his grim determination and the friends who help him battle their foe. I love the return to reality at the end when the billabong reveals as a wading pool, the sword reverts to a broom and Jack’s trusty stead becomes his bicycle.

I can’t resist asking Alison a few questions on the topic of make-believe.

Alison, I got the strong feeling whilst reading The Littlest Bushranger that you were closely connected to this type of imaginative play. How much did your own childhood influence the idea and development of Jack’s story?

A huge amount. I didn’t realise until I finished how much of myself was in the book. I loved playing imaginative games, including some that lasted for days. I had a secret passage behind the cotoneasters along the driveway, I would make tomato soup out of rust on top of the incinerator and dragged all the furniture out of my cubby house onto its. That was my penthouse!

Can you share one of your favourite childhood games of make-believe?

I played one named, rather macabrely, Death. With my two friends we would act out a scenario that resulted in Death, which we would all chant in sombre, dramatic tones.  I remember the first one I did as a sort of demonstration model was me staggering along in a desert, panting and then slowly collapsing into the sand. I was lost in a desert. The death throes lasted for a long, long time.

What do you believe is the role and/or benefit of make-believe in children’s lives?

I think make-believe is extremely important. You can control your own environment. Often children feel as if they have no control in their reality. Children can express their feelings in play and storytelling.  It’s also a lot of fun. I remember how there were no limits in my imaginative play. If I wanted to fly, I could do it!

Will we see further adventures of Jack?

I’m crossing my fingers as I have some more adventures up my sleeve that I would love to share with Jack.

As part of Alison’s blog tour she is offering some fantastic prizes along the way, plus a great opportunity for non-fiction writers, and a fantastic MONSTER drawing competition. 

Jump the Slush Pile!

Win a free pass to a adult non-fiction commissioning editor’s desk.

Just comment on this blog post or any other blog during the The Littlest Bushranger blog tour and add the initials NF. The more you comment, the more chances you have to win the draw.

Monster Competition:

There are a couple of monsters in The Littlest Bushranger. One’s a bunyip, and the other an outlaw/monster who steals Lil’s telescope. What sort of monster do you like? Send along a painting/drawing/model of a monster and you could win a piece of Heath McKenzie’s amazing artwork for The Littlest Bushranger.

Upload your own best monster to https://www.facebook.com/alison.reynolds.524 or email it as a low res jpeg file to alrey@msn.com.au and we’ll upload it. If you don’t have a scanner, take a photo on a smart phone and email that!

Two categories. Under 12 and 12 plus, including grown-ups. Entries close 25th June!

The Littlest Bushranger The Five Mile Press June 2013 ISBN 97817434664977

The Littlest bushranger_FRONT COVERFollow the other stops on Alison’s book tour and watch out for further prizes along the ride including: a piece of Heath McKenzie’s artwork from The Littlest Bushranger, a picture book assessment by Alison Reynolds, 2 free passes direct to an editor’s desk (you get to skip the slush pile), copies of The Littlest Bushranger. Just comment on the posts.

June 11 Kat Apel  http://katswhiskers.wordpress.com/blog/

June 12 Chris Bell  https://christinemareebell.wordpress.com/

June 13 Angela Sunde  http://angelasunde.blogspot.com.au/

June 14 Boomerang Books  http://blog.boomerangbooks.com.au/author/dpowell

June 18 Dee White  http://deescribewriting.wordpress.com/

June 19 Kids Book Review  http://www.kids-bookreview.com/

June 20 Ask the Editor. Interview with Melissa Keil  

www.alisonreynolds.com.au

June 21 Ask the Sales Rep. Interview with Melinda Beaumont   

www.alisonreynolds.com.au

 

The Randomness of random

Congratulations to Dale Harcombe WINNER of a Sally Odgers e-book for her comment on Bushland Lullaby.

It’s an odd juxtaposition awarding Dale the prize considering I won a like e-book for posting a comment on Dale’s post with Sally on her  Read and Write with Dale blog. Still I can assure that there has been no nepotism or favouritism. In fact, I wondered how to draw the winner and was about to pull names from a hat (really a coffee cup) when I surfed the net for more inventive ideas and chanced across the Random.org website. You simply input the number of entries i.e. comments between one and however many and it randomly selects your winner. Number three was Dale’s comment and VOILA… she wins one of Sally’s e-books on either Writing a Picture Book Text; Finding Farholt Or Writing Metrical Verse. 

For the record, I’m excited to have won Sally’s writing picture book ebook. I love the picture book format, and have had a couple published, but I do struggle with the economy of words.

Please let me know in a comment, Dale, which book you’d like for your prize and it will be on its way instantly. Such is a the bonus in ebook delivery. No waiting for the printing, packing, posting.

Research Tips for Writers – Guest blogger Tania McCartney on the Riley and the Grumpy Wombat Blog Tour

I’m delighted to welcome, guest poster, Tania McCartney, author, editor, publisher and founder of the wonderful children’s literature site, Kids Book Review – in celebration of her latest release Riley and the Grumpy Wombat (Ford Street Publishing). Tania is the creator of the popular Riley the Little Aviator series of travelogue picture books, and is both published and self-published in children’s fiction and adult non-fiction. She’s here to share her Research Tips for Writers. Welcome, and I’ll hand over to Tania.

Along with picture books, I have a quiet addiction to history and historical writing. I know – chalk and cheese, right? Perhaps not. The current spate of enormously successful faction books and picture books with historical undertones tell us history is the new black for children’s literature.

Notoriously, history books of the past have been bogged in a morass of boring… but very crafty, highly creative authors, illustrators and publishers are windsurfing across that bog with bright, light, whimsical and thoroughly entertaining stories that are truly shifting the way we teach history to kids.

History Books
Having studied history at uni, it felt like a natural progression for me to move into historical fiction, and I’ve recently finished a non-fiction book for the National Library of Australia (Australian Story: An Illustrated Timeline, out 2012) that takes Australian history and unfurls it like a long-lost scroll, and takes kids on a journey through time. Part of the process of writing this book – and the historical fiction I’m currently working on – was to hone my research skills, and work out a format that works for me.

My personal ‘format’ relies on visuals. I operate visually and even note-taking is documented in a visual way – via spread sheets and images that help capture the message I’m trying to convey. For Australian Story, I kept spread sheets that documented each event, timeframes, people involved, key dates, links and where I sourced the information. I also placed selected images on the spread sheet, and made my own additional notes to help with context.

One of my key tips for researching books that require a lot of detail, is to keep several versions of your document. Every few weeks I would save my spread sheets as new versions, date the old ones and archive them. This allowed me to keep several ‘works in progress’ that I could refer to down the track as the main document was updated and edited and altered towards a final version. Sure enough – in the final stages of production, these archived early versions came in very handy.

Picture Books
Researching is vital for historical fiction, sure, but it can also be important for fiction-writing… even picture books.

For my newest Riley book – Riley and the Grumpy Wombat: A journey around Melbourne – I actually did a lot of research both for the book proper, and for my teachers’ notes and kids’ activities, which I write to complement the book. Although I’m a Melbourne girl, I really wanted to open and explore the sights of this gorgeous city and surrounds even further – and I needed to know MORE in order to do that.

When you write a book, you should know your material. Even for a low text picture book like Grumpy Wombat, I took the time to get to know more about each site featured in the book so I could answer questions for children and write some ‘fun facts’ into an activity book I have created for my book launches (these will eventually be on my website http://www.taniamccartney.com/4kids.html). This research was also priceless for my teachers’ notes http://www.scribd.com/doc/61497405/Teaching-Notes-Riley-and-the-Grumpy-Wombat, which offer teachers some fascinating ways to engage children in the story.

For all my Riley books, I spend time researching the featured animal as well as the featured city. I need to do this not only for my teachers’ notes and school presentations, but also because I weave both cultural and faunal facts and intimations and metaphors into each story… like the fact that wombats are often in a bad mood (well, they appear to be, anyway – and you would, too, if you had to spend most of your time alone and live in a cold, dank hole in the ground).

Fiction
In 2007, I began work on a YA novel (working title: The One) that was based on ancient spiritual beliefs. The research required to write this took me by surprise. I didn’t expect to spend so much time researching for this book, but the need arose naturally and I ran with it. The more wonderful moments of synchronicity I experienced in writing The One, the more I wanted to give weight to what I was writing.

And nothing gives weight and power to fiction like historical facts.

For The One, I was required to explore not only other countries and cultures but the customs and rites of ancient peoples. I loved every minute of this. My findings really enriched the storyline and – most surprisingly – were actually responsible for bringing together my plot threads into one glorious ending.

I highly recommend researching to add intensity and weight to fiction, no matter how far removed the plot core is from reality.

Faction
Of course, research is vital for factional writing, and the process can be an intense one. Authors write this type of book in different ways but I prefer to research and write the parts I need as I go along. Some authors read up on and completely research a person’s life or an event from start to finish, before penning a single word of their story. I like to combine the research and the penning so my writing and comprehension of the subject matter is fresh.

Some authors write out the entire plot before commencing the story proper. This allows them to get an overview of where the book will go, and how they can incorporate and flesh out their characters and story structure.

For my current faction novel, I keep notes on my research findings then write them immediately into the storyline without becoming too pedantic about things being ‘perfect’. Interpretation and fictional additions, especially dialogue, are what make faction novels so special, and getting bogged down or paranoid about ‘getting things perfect’ while you’re still busy plotting the story, may disable you.

Writing a first draft with a light touch may help you plot the bones of the book and could be the key to actually getting a first draft complete. Getting bogged in minor detail can hinder the process, and these more detailed elements are much easier to add to a skeleton storyline a little down the track.

Once the first-draft bones of your faction novel are complete, you can then think about how to pad things out, develop your characters, and ensure all vital parts of the historical puzzle are covered – not only in the right order, but with clarity and accuracy.

Absolute accuracy on content is the final stage – and some reworking, adding and deleting may be required.

Characters
Authors develop their characters in many different ways – some know them instantly and intimately, while others get to know them as they unfold. One of the most effective ways to develop characters (who are the driving force and emotion behind any story) is to research them either before or during the book-writing process.

Keep a spread sheet of your characters and make notes about their personality traits, their background, their likes and dislikes, their idiosyncrasies. Dig deep and get to know who they are. This kind of ‘research’ can be the most fun of all.

Researching Tips

• The internet provides a wealth of information at your fingertips, but don’t rely on it. There is a lot of pap and inaccuracy out there. If I’m researching on the internet, I search several sites and compare findings. I also frequent sites I can trust – like the sites of governments, organisations and established professionals.
• Cross-check your internet finds with printed books.
• Utilise your library, and if you can’t access the books you need, ask them to order books for you.
• If you are writing historical work for a publisher, your work will need to be heavily (and repeatedly) fact-checked. I was fastidious with my book for the National Library yet I missed several important entries and several were questioned for accuracy. Outside readers, historians and fact-checkers are a must, no matter how thorough you are.
• The wording used in historical work is subject to interpretation (and misinterpretation) so the right wording is vital. Be prepared to have your wording altered to minimise inaccuracy, misinterpretation, political correctness or subjectivity.

Riley and the Grumpy Wombat: A Journey around Melbourne
Tania McCartney, illustrations by Kieron Pratt
Ford Street Publishing, A$22.95, hardcover          

For more, see www.taniamccartney.com and www.fordstreetpublishing.com.

Riley and the Grumpy Wombat Blog Tour Dates:

Thursday 1 September

Blog Tour Announcement Tania McCartney Blogspot

Blog Tour Schedule Kids Book Review

Book Review and Giveaway Bug in a Book

Publishing v Self-Publishing Claire Saxby’s Let’s Have Words blog

Friday 2 September

Author Guest Post and Book Review Read Plus

Hosting a Fabulous Book Launch Sheryl Gwyther 4 Kids blog

Melbourne Via the Pages of Grumpy Wombat Buzz Words’ Book blog

Book Giveaway Handmade Canberra

Saturday 3 September

Interview with Riley Boomerang Books, Kids’ Book Capers blog

Book Giveaway Fat Mum Slim

Speaking at Schools Under the Apple Tree with Angela Sunde blog

Book Giveaway HerCanberra

Sunday 4 September

Book Giveaway Posie, The Blog

Writing Effective Teachers’ Notes Sandy Fussell’s Stories Are Light

Interview with Wombat My Little Bookcase

Book Giveaway Alphabet Street

Monday 5 September

Creating Effective Presentations for Schools  Blue Dingo

Researching Tips for Writers Chris Bell’s From Hook to Book blog

Book Resources for Parents The Book Chook

Top 10 Tips for Writing a Submission Sally Murphy’s Writing for Children Blog

Tuesday 6 September

Writing Processes Soup Blog

Top 10 Book Writing Tips and Top 10 Book Marketing Tips DeeScribe blog

Travelling with Children Wise Words blog

Author Interview HerCanberra 

Wednesday 7 September

Book Review Buzz Words’ Book blog

Author Interview Helen Ross Writes blog

Book Review My Little Bookcase

Book Giveaway Australian Women Online

Thursday 8 September

Balancing Motherhood with Career Planning with Kids

Self-Publishing Journey, Review, Book Giveaway Pass It On blog

Tania McCartney Blog Blog Tour Wrap Up and Exciting Announcement

“George and Ghost” Catriona Hoy talks Picture Books: Here and Overseas

Today, I’m thrilled to have delightful author Catriona Hoy stop by on her blog tour and tell us all about her brand new picture book George and Ghost.

Catriona has published several picture books including: My Grandad Marches on Anzac Day, The Music Tree, both the Daddies and Mummies are Amazing titles and the gorgeous Puggle.

Lucky UK readers have been able to purchase George and Ghost since its UK launch in November. So we’re thrilled to see it here in Australia, and to have Catriona back with us after over two years living in the United Kingdom. She’s both a talented author and secondary school science teacher, the ideal author to write this blend of story, science and philosophy.

 

 Publisher: Hodder (UK)  Hachette (Aust)     Illustrator: Cassia Thomas

George and Ghost are friends, but George isn’t sure he believes in Ghost anymore. How will Ghost prove to George that he is real?

 

Welcome, Catriona. Thank you for popping in to visit. I’m honoured to have you as my very first blog guest.

Hi Chris, thanks so much for taking part in my blog tour.

George and Ghost is a delightful new picture book focusing on friendship, and also incorporating aspects of science and philosophy. A big call in a picture book with few words. How do you introduce science and philosophy concepts simply to such young readers?

I would never have attempted it if I didn’t have a science background. At times I’ve felt I’ve bitten off more than I could chew as I really didn’t want someone to point at the book and say, ‘what a goose, she’s got that wrong.’ I didn’t set out to do the philosophy bit but quickly realised that I’d opened a real can of worms. I’ve tried to leave that can of worms open. It all comes down to ‘what is real anyway…’ And I’m going to tackle that in the last day of the blog tour. Ha Ha, Descartes I am not. It’ll be the suburban mum’s guide to reality, school lunch making and embarrassing your children.

I believe you wrote the story while you were living in England, Catriona. Do you think it would have been a different story if it was written in Australia?

My ideas for stories are usually a reflection of what’s happening in my life. I wrote my first book, The Music Tree, (which came out after my second book, lol) about a friend and her son. My Grandad Marches on Anzac Day, was about my father-in-law and came about because I wanted to show my pre-school aged daughter what Anzac Day was about…and I couldn’t find a book on the shelves to do so.

So, if I wasn’t living in England, surrounded by ghosties and ghoulies and visiting great places like Mary King’s Close in Edinburgh and New Grange in Ireland, the story might never have popped in to my head. It’s not so much the being in a foreign country as influencing the book as it being my inspiration.

Was there much difference in the publication process between the two countries?

I was really keen to get a contract with a UK publisher…overseas markets seem to be the catch cry in Australia. I expected that with a higher population and market, that its print runs etc would be larger. However, they seem to be pretty much the same. Over there I was a new author, with a small print run. So for me, publishing in the UK was like starting over again. I think we still have a relatively healthy picture book market in Australia compared to some other countries, especially if books appeal to the school market.

Are there any taboos for the English picture book market compared to Australia?

I don’t really have enough experience of the English picture book market to make that kind of comment. I’m much more conscious of taboos for the US market. It depends more on what an individual publisher is looking for. Sometimes an Australian author can have an edgier voice.

Do you consciously have an audience in mind when writing your picture books?

I generally start with an idea and begin writing. However, at the back of my mind is always the market…has this been done before, can I sell the idea to a publisher, can I see it being used in schools? The story writes itself but as it comes along, that other analytical part of my brain is looking at it from the outside in, whereas I write it from the inside out, if that makes sense?

The gorgeous illustrations by Cassia Thomas feature many details not mentioned in the text. These give lots of extra opportunities for discussion. How do you write a picture book text and leave scope for the illustrator?

I guess it’s the old adage, ‘show don’t tell.’ That’s one of the mistakes that people make when attempting to write a picture book. The illustrations tell their own story too. When I write a picture book, I make sure that I have at least 16 different images in my head.  When I’m looking at first roughs of illustrations, I’m looking to see whether the character looks right and whether it has the right ‘feel.’

After that, I’m looking for that extra dimension that an illustrator can add. A couple of times I’ve had to say no, usually because there wasn’t the right ‘fit.’ A picture book is a real partnership and it’s wonderful when a good illustrator does bring in that added dimension and surprise me. It’s not so much a case of me making room, but the illustrator being a co-creator in their own right and making their own contribution to the finished product.

With older primary age children, girls tend to read both boy and girl characters, while boys tend to only read boy characters. Do think that the gender of characters influences reading enjoyment in younger picture book age children? Should it influence the parent or book buyer when choosing a book for younger children?

Ooh, that’s a hard one. Both The Music Tree and George and Ghost had male characters. I don’t think it should influence the book buyer, I think you should be looking for a good story. Having said that, some are more obviously targeted towards one or the other. My girls loved A Proper Little Lady, by Nette Hilton. I wouldn’t buy that book for a boy though! My Grandad Marches on Anzac Day, has a little girl as the main character (my oldest daughter) but I’ve never thought of that as a particularly girly book. I guess my answer would be …just choose a good book!

Ghosts and the supernatural can be quite controversial subjects. Why did you choose Ghost as the best non-human character to befriend George?

Yes, I didn’t realise that it would be controversial in that way! I was more worried being inaccurate rather than offending religious sensibilities. As to choosing the character to befriend George, it didn’t happen that way. It was me wondering, as a kid in my head, how much a ghost would weigh. So it couldn’t have been George and Ghost without….Ghost!

Thanks for having me over to visit Chris, it’s been lovely talking to you.

Thank you so much for visiting, Cat, and for sharing about the writing and publishing of your stunning new book. I’m sure George and Ghost will captivate children as much through the delightful story of friendship, as the scientific experiments. Best wishes for the rest of your blog tour.  

You can catch up with Catriona’s other tour stops, even those past, thanks to the wonders of blogging, by clicking on the links below. Also, visit her website where you can download discussion notes for George and Ghost classroom activities and curriculum links.

Monday March 7
Claire Saxby:  Let’s Have Words
Topic: Art vs Science

Tuesday March 8
Rebecca Newman: Alphabet Soup Magazine’s Soup Blog
Topic: Does a picture book need editing?

Wednesday March 9
Trevor Cairney: Literacy, Families and Learning
Topic: The Writing Journey

Thursday March 10 (Official Release Day!)
Robyn Opie: Writing Children’s Books With Robyn Opie
Topic: Writing George and Ghost

Friday March 11
Dee White: Kid’s Book Capers : Boomerang Books
Topic: Ghosts…Do You Believe? And…a review!

Saturday March 12
Chris Bell: From Hook To Book
Topic: Picture books: Here and Overseas.

Monday March 14
Lorraine Marwood: Words into Writing
Topic: What’s real anyway?

Exciting visitor – coming soon – Catriona Hoy on tour

Catriona Hoy is about to launch her brand new picture book George and GhostTo celebrate and publicise her latest book baby, she’ll be touring the blogosphere from Monday 7th March ’til Monday 14th March. I’m excited she’ll be visiting me here at From Hook to Book on Saturday 12th March to talk all about George and Ghost, picture books, and publication – both here and overseas. Stop by on the 12th and meet the delightful Catriona, and be sure to drop in on her other stops too, where she’ll be sharing lots of insights into the writing and publishing of George and Ghost and talking all things picture books.

George and Ghost are friends, but George isn’t sure he believes in Ghost anymore. How will Ghost prove to George that he is real?

“This heartwarming book explores the up and down emotions of childhood friendship – whether real or make-believe.”

You can also catch up with Catriona on her other tour stops:-

Monday March 7
Claire Saxby:  Let’s Have Words
Topic: Art vs Science

Tuesday March 8
Rebecca Newman: Alphabet Soup Magazine’s Soup Blog
Topic: Does a picture book need editing?

Wednesday March 9
Trevor Cairney: Literacy, Families and Learning
Topic: The Writing Journey

Thursday March 10 (Official Release Day!)
Robyn Opie: Writing Children’s Books With Robyn Opie
Topic: Writing George and Ghost

Friday March 11
Dee White: Kid’s Book Capers : Boomerang Books
Topic: Ghosts…Do You Believe? And…a review!

Saturday March 12
Chris Bell: From Hook To Book
Topic: Picture books: Here and Overseas.

Monday March 14
Lorraine Marwood: Words into Writing
Topic: What’s real anyway?

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