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PASS THE BOOK BATON logo

It’s Friday! And that means it’s time for Pass the Book Baton. Every week Alphabet Soup features a book creator who will answer one question before throwing a new question to the next Friday visitor. (It’s kind of like a book relay in slow motion.)

Today the book baton is passed to Raewyn Caisley. Raewyn was born and grew up in New Zealand, and has spent more than half her life in Australia. She’s lived in a number of Australian cities, and also lived for a year in the outback. Her most recent book is Something Wonderful, illustrated by Karen Blair.

Here are just some of Raewyn’s books:

Last week Bren MacDibble asked:
Looking at your recent picture books, I immediately get a sense of place, not just anywhere but of Western Australia or of New Zealand. Most of the scene setting is done by an illustrator in a picture book, but do you consciously try to contribute towards building a sense of place with your prose? And how do you do that?


Raewyn answers:
Raewyn Caisley (photo)Actually, most of the scene setting is done by the author first, even in a picture book. You just don’t notice it! When Karen Blair did the pictures for Hello From Nowhere she had never even been to the Nullarbor so I guess my words must have somehow taken her there.

The trick is allowing the reader to see the place through the eyes of the characters, and if the writer includes their own real feelings about the place, well then it will be just like being there.

Another clever trick is incorporating the five senses. How does it smell? What can you hear? What can you see? Touch something and think about how that thing makes you feel … Again, though, you have to do it in a very real way. A lot of kids like to say ‘You could smell his fear’ but I’m not sure you can really smell fear. You shouldn’t go through the senses like they’re a shopping list either! Just put a smell in here, a sound in there … Do it in a way that feels natural.

The best compliment you can ever give someone who writes about place is, you took me there. I hope that’s how people feel when they’ve read one of my books.

For more about Raewyn Caisley and her books, check out her website: www.raewyncaisley.com

 


Great Goal Marvellous MarkAnd now Raewyn passes the book baton to the next Friday visitor — Katrina Germein. Katrina’s latest book is Great Goal! Marvellous Mark! illustrated by Janine Dawson.

Raewyn asks:
“You write about so many different things; footy, remote communities, beaches, funny dads … I even read that you want to write about mermaids! Is there something that all your books have in common?

Check in every Friday for mini interviews with children’s authors and illustrators.

See you next week!

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PASS THE BOOK BATON

It’s Friday! And that means it’s time for Pass the Book Baton. Every week Alphabet Soup features a book creator who will answer one question before throwing a new question to the next Friday visitor. (It’s kind of like a book relay in slow motion.)

Today the book baton is passed to Bren MacDibble. Bren has a special interest in science fiction and loves to write to explore the future. Her latest novel — How to Bee — is set in a post bee, post famine Australia, where children hand-pollinate fruit trees.

You might recognise some of these books:

Last week Cristy Burne asked:
I love that you have introduced the real-life issue of honey bee losses in your fictional novel, How to Bee. Can you please tell us more about how this issue grabbed your interest and its role in inspiring your story?

Bren answers:
Bren MacDibble photoWhen I saw the beautiful photos in the Huffington Post article (linked on my website) about how farmers in a valley in the Sichuan Province in China were already spending their lives climbing through trees, hand-pollinating flowers, because there just aren’t any bees there anymore, I knew I wanted to write about the lives of hand-pollinators.

I’d also read an article about pigeon pea farmers in India who had been put into debt from purchasing insecticides. When they went back to the old ways of beating the bushes, and dragging a sheet through the rows of pigeon pea with a flock of chickens following, the health of the pea bushes improved, more people had work, no one went into debt, and chooks got nice and fat and laid lots of eggs. (Young Peony in How to Bee has chickens for this very reason, she also talks about circles of life, and how pesticides cut through them.)
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How to BeeI think children know a lot about climate change and it worries them, so I wanted to set a story in the future after the bees had gone and the world had changed. I didn’t want to terrify children with a famine caused by bee loss, I wanted to go further into the future and show the world after things had resettled. In particular, I wanted young readers to see children like them living in this new time, getting on with things. I wanted to show them coping, and learning what is most important in a new world.
Check out Bren MacDibble’s website for more about her and her books.
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Something wonderfulAnd now Bren passes the book baton to the next Friday visitor — Raewyn Caisley. Her latest book is a picture book, Something Wonderful.

Bren asks:
“Looking at your recent picture books, I immediately get a sense of place, not just anywhere but of Western Australia or of New Zealand. Most of the scene setting is done by an illustrator in a picture book, but do you consciously try to contribute towards building a sense of place with your prose? And how do you do that?”

Check in every Friday for mini interviews with children’s authors and illustrators.

See you next week!

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PASS THE BOOK BATON

It’s Friday! And that means it’s time for Pass the Book Baton. Every week Alphabet Soup features a book creator who will answer one question before throwing a new question to the next Friday visitor. (It’s kind of like a book relay in slow motion.)

Today the book baton is passed to Cristy Burne. Cristy is an author, a past editor of CSIRO’s Scientriffic magazine for kids, a regular contributor to Crinkling News and Double Helix mag for kids/teens, and has worked as a travelling performer in the Shell Questacon Science Circus. Her latest book is To the Lighthouse

You might recognise some of these books:

Last week Alice Pung asked:
You mention finding a plastic head in the rubbish bin as one of the inspirations for your Takeshita Demons books. This is fascinating! Could you tell us the true story about the head that inspired the books?!


Cristy answers:

Cristy BurneMany years ago, when I was living in Japan, I was walking home from work when I received a huge shock. It was a freezing, wintry day, and the time of year when villagers put their large rubbish out on the verge, ready for council pick up. I didn’t have a whole lot of furniture in my house, so I was keeping an eye out for anything useful I might bring back. There were old wooden bookshelves, comfy chairs, storage chests, even what looked to be a pristine condition antique sewing machine … I wanted it all!

However, at that time in Japan, it was considered poor manners to collect ‘rubbish’ from off the verge. And anyway, these things were too heavy for me to lug home.

Then I spotted it. In a cardboard box, next to an old set of wooden drawers. Human hair.

It was straight and shiny. Thick, black human hair. Sticking out of the top of the box.

I gulped. I panicked. I looked around to see if anyone else had seen it. Human hair!!

But there was no one else in the street. No one at all. So I stepped closer to the box and peered inside.

Skin!! Through the shining hair, I could see the pale skin of a scalp!

I looked around again, starting to freak out. Should I call the police? Scream and run? What if the murderer was watching me right now? What should I do!?!

I knew I shouldn’t panic, so I took a deep breath, steeled myself. And I did what any ordinary, sensible person would do. I bent down to the box, grabbed a handful of that thick, shining hair in my fist, and lifted it up …

… and an entire head came with it! Was it a woman? A man? I couldn’t tell, but its eyes were staring right at me. PANIC!!

And worse, there was more hair in the box below. I grabbed another handful and pulled up another head. And another.

In all, there were three heads in that roadside box, all identical, all with lush black hair. All, thankfully, plastic. I guess they were old hairdressers’ dummies? Anyway, they’d been thrown out, so they were mine now!

I took them home, washed their faces, shampooed their hair, and stuck them in a pretty row in my front window, for passers-by to admire. They looked so realistic! It was the funniest thing ever to sit and sip tea and secretly watch the reactions of people in the street. (I recommend you do this anytime you want a good laugh.)

A few months later, I heard about the Japanese nukekubi—a mythical creature whose head detaches from its sleeping body so it can fly around and terrorise small puppies and children. And I started to wonder: what if these heads weren’t hairdressing dummies? What if they were nukekubi heads, still in search of their bodies? And so the idea of an adventure series featuring Japanese mythology was born. Takeshita Demons was the first book in that series, and my first published book (yay!).

And what about the heads?

Well, when I left Japan, I was too embarrassed to bring all three back in my suitcase. So I only brought one. And I still have it now. As I type, it’s staring at me, from across the room. Staring and maybe waiting, for just that right moment to spring back into life … ? I don’t know.

But I do know having your own plastic head is a great way to meet friends, dream up practical jokes, and get inspired to write a book!

Check out Cristy Burne’s website for more about her and her books.

 


How to BeeAnd now Cristy passes the book baton to the next Friday visitor — Bren MacDibble. Bren’s latest book is How to Bee, published in May 2017.

Cristy asks:
I love that you have introduced the real-life issue of honey bee losses in your fictional novel, How to Bee. Can you please tell us more about how this issue grabbed your interest and its role in inspiring your story?

Check in every Friday for mini interviews with children’s authors and illustrators.

See you next week!

Read Full Post »

PASS THE BOOK BATON

It’s Friday! And that means it’s time for Pass the Book Baton. Every week Alphabet Soup features a book creator who will answer one question before throwing a new question to the next Friday visitor. (It’s kind of like a book relay in slow motion.)

Today the book baton is passed to Alice Pung. Alice is an award-winning author and writes for adults, young adults and children. (And did you know — Alice’s father named her after the Alice in Alice in Wonderland?)

You might have read Alice Pung’s books from the Our Australian Girl series, illustrated by Lucia Masciullo.:

Last week Gabriel Evans asked:
You’re both a solicitor and author. How do you balance these two jobs? Is there a connection between the two?

Photo by F Roselli.

Photo by F Roselli.

Alice answers:
I work as both a lawyer and writer. I work three days a week at the Fair Work Commission (Wednesday to Friday), and write on Mondays and Tuesdays. I think it is a good balance because I feel like I am doing something to help the community with my law background, and the writing becomes more fun when I don’t have an infinite time to do it. I never get writer’s block because I always value my writing time and try and use it wisely!

Find out more about Alice Pung and her books — check out her website: www.alicepung.com

 


To the lighthouse (book cover)And now Alice passes the book baton to the next Friday visitor — Cristy Burne. Christy is a science writer, teacher, editor and children’s author. Her latest book is To the Lighthouse.

Alice asks:
“You mention finding a plastic head in the rubbish bin as one of the inspirations for your Takeshita Demons books. This is fascinating! Could you tell us the true story about the head that inspired the books?!”

Check in every Friday for mini interviews with children’s authors and illustrators.

See you next week!

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PASS THE BOOK BATON
Sue WhitingEarlier 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.
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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.
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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.
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Literally.
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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.
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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!
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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!
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That all sounds quite nutty! But what can I say? You have to be a little nuts to be a writer, don’t you?
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And now Sue Whiting passes the baton to the next Friday visitor — Gabriel Evans. Gabriel is an Australian illustrator of more than 20 books. 

Sue asks:
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?
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Check in every Friday for questions and answers from children’s authors and illustrators.
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See you next week!

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PASS THE BOOK BATON

It’s Friday! And that means it’s time for Pass the Book Baton. Every week Alphabet Soup features a book creator who will answer one question before throwing a new question to the next Friday visitor. (It’s kind of like a book relay in slow motion.)

Kelly Canby

Today the book baton is passed to Kelly Canby. Kelly is an internationally published illustrator and author of picture books, early reader books, chapter books, and colouring books. She lives in Western Australia — you can see her above, busy drawing and painting.

You might recognise some of these books:

Last week Lorraine Marwood asked:
Hello Kelly, I see you do illustrations for a range of children’s genres, as well as colouring books!  Can you tell us a bit about your illustrative journey and what you’d passionately love to draw in the future?

Kelly Canby answers:
Thanks for the question, Lorraine! My illustrative journey begins many years ago at university. I studied design at Curtin where I majored in Illustration and minored in Graphic Design and Advertising. When I graduated I freelanced for while as an illustrator for advertising agencies and eventually landed a full time graphic design job with the design studio of my dreams. From there I moved between working in design studios and advertising agencies until I became senior designer at a very wonderful, very creative and fun (really fun) design studio.

Then I needed to do something completely different so I bought a florist. And I made flower arrangements.

And once that was out of my system, I started to think about design and illustration again. Also, around this time, I was buying a lot of picture books for my son and I fell completely in love with them knew that’s what I had to do. I had to make children’s books for the rest of my life! So I hopped online and discovered SCBWI (Society of Children’s Book Writers & Illustrators), I made myself a portfolio of work, got an agent and began. That was about 4 and half years ago and since then I have illustrated around 14 books, written and illustrated one picture book, with another picture book that I’ve written in the works with Fremantle Press as I type, and I’m having so much fun doing it all.

As for what I’d passionately love to draw in the future … Well, on the very top of my wish list for a long time was to illustrate a middle grade novel with lots and lots of detailed, full page, black and white drawings, which I happen to be doing right now with Allen & Unwin so I am one very happy illustrator, indeed!

Visit Kelly Canby’s website to find out more about her and her books: kellycanby.com


PlatypusAnd now Kelly Canby passes the baton to the next visitor — Sue Whiting.

Sue writes picture books, chapter books and novels for teens.

Kelly asks:
Hi Sue, my question for you is, 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?
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Pass the book baton is taking a break for the school holidays. The series will resume at the end of April.
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See you then!
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PASS THE BOOK BATON

It’s Friday! And that means it’s time for Pass the Book Baton. Every week Alphabet Soup features a book creator who will answer one question before throwing a new question to the next Friday visitor. (It’s kind of like a book relay in slow motion.)

Today the book baton is passed to Lorraine Marwood. Lorraine is an award-winning writer of novels, verse novels and poetry. You might recognise some of these books:

Last week Kylie Howarth asked:
Which poem or book you have written means the most to you?

Lorraine Marwood answers:

Ah, a perennial question that is often asked and at different stages or times in my writing journey there would be different answers.

Of course my first book picked up way back in 1999 part of the superdooper series ‘Rainbow Toes’ was a very exciting experience — even when the editor said I had to work on my ending before it was accepted. I was determined and still love this book today.

Or I could chose my first verse novel with Walker books Ratwhiskers and Me which allowed me to explore my love of history and my love of poetry in a fast paced narrative.

Then again I could choose my second verse novel Star Jumps, which was written in tears and shows life on a real live dairy farm as drought hits. This novel won the inaugural children’s section of the Prime Minister’s literary awards. So I love it because it celebrates my children’s growing up years and because it validated me as an author.

Or it could be my latest manuscript written last year at a May Gibbs literary fellowship in Brisbane. This one is close because it touches on grief — again another verse novel.

And poetry? I love writing poems mainly for children but continue to write literary poetry and be published in this genre too.

My latest collection Celebrating Australia: a year in poetry was a challenge to write, to research different celebrations (because I believe poetry should reflect facts as well as emotion) and to construct the poems in different ways.

A favourite poem from this collection was one on Christmas. My editor didn’t quite like the poem I’d already written and said to write a new one. I did, about a boy chosen to be the donkey in the nativity play, although he had no idea of what was going on — his friend Tiff kept explaining all the way through until he surprises himself and the reader right at the end. I love it when the right tone comes through for me and then the poem flows. Funny how my writing reflects my life because when I’d written that poem (the editor loved it by the way) my grandson was selected to be the donkey in his preschool play!

As my life continues on with many unexpected twists and new horizons, I love that my writing can help me adjust to new situations, to find meaning and to share this with my readers.

Poetry has the power to express what is on the inside and this is sometimes hidden to the poet too. So each new direction I take produces work which reflects that and looking back each poem or story contains the essence of that experience. So there are no favourites in my writing, just deep gratitude that writing is what I must do no matter what.

For more info about Lorraine Marwood and her books and poetry, visit http://lorrainemarwood.com or check out her blog http://lorrainemarwoodwordsintowriting.blogspot.com.au/


All the Lost ThingsAnd now Lorraine Marwood passes the baton to the next Friday visitor — Kelly Canby. Kelly is an author-illustrator living in Perth, WA.

Lorraine asks:
“I see you do illustrations for a range of children’s genres, as well as colouring books!  Can you tell us a bit about your illustrative journey and what you’d passionately love to draw in the future?  Thanks.”
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Check in every Friday for questions and answers from children’s authors and illustrators.
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See you next week!

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