Today I am talking to Sally Murphy and David Murphy, author and illustrator of Snowy’s Christmas (reviewed in an earlier post). We asked Sally and David to share 5 things each – things you might not already have heard about their book!
You’ll find their answers if you read on. But before you do – we have one copy of Snowy’s Christmas to give away!
If you’d like a chance to win, email firstname.lastname@example.org and tell me the date that David finished the final illustration of the final draft. (Hint: he tells you below!) I’ll put all the entries in a santa hat and draw out the winning name on 25 October 2009.
Now – over to you Sally and David!
1. Snowy’s Christmas was inspired by the story of Rudolf the Red Nosed Reindeer. I have always bought lots of Christmas books for my own children, and when I bought a new version of Rudolf, it set me thinking about how people adapt and retell stories. I started thinking about how I could retell the story in an Australian setting – and wrote the earliest draft of this story.
2. It took several years from writing Snowy’s Christmas to sending it to a publisher. After I had written the story, I was at a conference where I heard a publisher say that Australian publishers were not interested in seeing manuscripts for Christmas and other seasonal stories, because it was cheaper to import them. I believed her, and so didn’t persevere with the story (though I did once submit it to a website, which then closed down – hopefully not because I’d submitted to them). Then, a few years ago publishers did start producing Australian Christmas stories, very successfully. But it took for Linsay Knight, the publisher at Random House, asking if I could adapt a manuscript of mine she was interested in for the Christmas market before I finally submitted Snowy. And boy am I glad I did.
3. I really have seen a white kangaroo – in fact several, at a wildlife park in Western Australia. You can see a photo here: http://wwwcavershamwildlife.com.au/feed-kangaroos.html I don’t know a lot about them, but believe they are not albino, but fairly rare.
4. The book was illustrated by my brother-in-law David. Okay, you might have already known that, but did you know that it is very rare for the author and illustrator to get to choose each other? Usually this is a decision made by the publisher. In this case, though, Linsay from Random House actually asked me to have David do some sample illustrations when I submitted the manuscript. I had known Linsay for quite some time and she met David when she sat with us at a conference breakfast. I think maybe she liked us, or at least the novelty of a family team. It was fun, and also special, to get to work with David.
5. The first draft of Snowy’s Christmas was about 1600 words – too long for a picture book. I did manage to cut it down to about 1000 words before I submitted it to Random House, but during the editing process we reduced it even further – it’s only about 600 words now. Picture book texts need to be short for young readers and often there is a lot that can be shown in the illustrations without needing to be told in the text.
1. The illustrations for Snowy were sketched entirely with my left hand using pencils. I then used my right hand to ink the line work. After that, the line art was scanned and I completed the colouring using my computer. For each illustration there were multiple sketches before the right one was found. I would have drawn each page 6–10 times.
2. Snowy’s red roo friends were based on a mob of kangaroos who live in the bushland near my house. I was particularly interested in the joeys who spent hours chasing each other around and boxing.
3. All the white boomers have names and their own stories. Sally, Kimberley (the editor) and I discussed who they were and what their personalities were. These completed their characters in my mind and allowed me to create more meaningful illustrations.
4. The very first sketch I did for the book was of Snowy and his mum. He was quite small, which made me worry if he would be strong enough to pull the sleigh, so I made him a bit bigger.
5. The final illustration for the final draft was completed on Christmas Eve!
If you want to find out more about the book, Snowy’s Christmas has its own website: http://aussiechristmas.wordpress.com/ (You can even hear David in a radio interview!)
And the book is going on a blog tour in the lead-up to Christmas. Here’s where you’ll find Sally and/or David talking about Snowy:
Week One: October 4
Deescribe Writing Blog
Week Two: October 11
Write and Read With Dale
Week three: October 18
Alphabet Soup Blog (YOU’RE HERE!)
Week Four: October 25
Let’s Have Words
Week Five: November 1
Sally Murphy’s Writing for children Blog
Week 6: November 8
Week 7: November 15
Samantha Hughes’ Blog
Robyn Opie’s Writing Children’s Books Blog
Stories are Light
The Aussie Christmas Blog
Tales I Tell