Earlier this year Alphabet Soup started a series called Pass the Book Baton. Every week we featured a book creator who answered one question before throwing a new question to the next Friday visitor. (It was kind of like a book relay in slow motion.) Our book creators took a break for the school holidays but we are pleased to announce … Pass the Book Baton is BACK!
You might remember that we left Kelly Canby with the book baton in March. (She’ll be feeling quite tired by now.) Today she finally passes the baton to Sue Whiting.
Sue Whiting lives and works in a coastal village south of Sydney. She is an editor and an author and writes books for a range of ages, from picture books through to books for young adults. Her latest book is Platypus, illustrated by Mark Jackson.
Here are just some of Sue Whiting’s books:
Back in March, Kelly Canby asked:
When you’re in the planning stage of a new book, do you prefer to work in a quiet space where it’s just you and your thoughts or do you head out to cafes and parks where you’re surrounded by outside sources of inspiration — people/colour/activity — to help develop your ideas?
Sue Whiting answers:
Thanks for this great question, Kelly.
The planning stages of a new book fill me with great excitement. There are just so many possibilities! In fact, anything is possible. And I love that.
I usually think about a new book idea for many, many months, letting it simmer away, slowly developing like a good stock. During this time, I might also do some research, collect other ideas, try to make connections and get to know potential characters. And I do a lot of walking. Alone. Letting my characters chat away in my head while I eavesdrop on them! Then I hit the drawing board.
I am lucky enough to have a drawing board that belonged to my son when he was studying engineering. When he flew the coup and left it behind, I quickly claimed it. It is my favourite place. I peg on large sheets of paper, grab a pencil and let all those bubbling thoughts spill out onto the paper. It’s the ultimate brainstorm. I ask myself questions and write numerous answers. I challenge myself to think outside the square, to think of unlikely scenarios and elements. Eventually, after many days of scribbling and scribbling, I start to circle the ideas that have the most appeal and seek out further connections. Gradually, elements of plot and story, character and setting start to emerge, and that’s when I begin wrestling the best ideas into some sort of order and to work out what it is that this story is actually about.
All of this is done in my writing studio, in absolute silence. I need to be totally alone with my thoughts in order to release them and see where they take me. Sometimes, good ideas are very shy and need quite a bit of coaxing to emerge and even background music can be enough to make them hide away!
Once I am about halfway through my first draft and have a clear idea of where I am heading, I can write just about anywhere — on the train, in a
café, on the sofa with the TV blaring!
That all sounds quite nutty! But what can I say? You have to be a little nuts to be a writer, don’t you?
And now Sue Whiting passes the baton to the next Friday visitor — Gabriel Evans. Gabriel is an Australian illustrator of more than 20 books.
“I have had the privilege of working with Gabriel (as an editor) and have been a big fan of his work for a number of years. It has been great to watch his career develop, going from strength to strength. So my question is: What would you do differently in terms of the development of your career as an illustrator if you had your time over again?”
Check in every Friday for questions and answers from children’s authors and illustrators.
See you next week!