Posted in authors, Pass the Book Baton

Pass the Book Baton: Yasmin Hamid

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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 Yasmin Hamid. 

Yasmin grew up in East Africa with her siblings, English mother and Sudanese father. She has been in the same book club group for almost twenty-five years.

Yasmin’s first children’s novel — Swimming on the Lawn — was published in 2017.

Swimming on the Lawn by Yasmin Hamid

 

Last week Aśka asked:

To someone like me — who grew up among grey blocks of flats in Eastern Europe — your childhood sounds absolutely fearless. Was there ever anything that you were afraid of? How did you overcome that fear?


Yasmin answers:

Yasmin Hamid in a garden. Photo courtesy Fremantle Press.
Yasmin Hamid, author

This is a very interesting question. I don’t remember ever being afraid when I was a child. I think it was to do with the place where I lived at that particular time (open spaces, lots of freedom to roam the neighbourhood, climb trees and and be away from home for hours on end without supervision). There wasn’t any hint of stranger danger and there was rarely any interference from adults.

I remember doing things that involved an element of risk like climbing up onto our house roof and weighing up the possibility that if I jumped off and flapped my arms, whether I could fly a bit before I fell onto the strategically placed mattress! Needless to say, I always knew I couldn’t and would climb down again after spending time looking over the garden from a different perspective.
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Read a sample chapter from Swimming on the Lawn and download teachers’ notes.

And now Yasmin passes the book baton to the next Friday visitor — Sherryl Clark. Sherryl writes picture books, junior fiction, novels, verse novels, and books for young adults.

Yasmin Hamid asks:
I know you have travelled to many different countries, but do you find it difficult to write books that are set in an Australian landscape when in your mind you have the embedded landscapes and terrains of the New Zealand you grew up in?

Check in every Friday for mini interviews with children’s authors and illustrators. (While you’re waiting you can catch up on all the interviews in the Pass the Book Baton series so far!)

Posted in authors, Pass the Book Baton

Pass the Book Baton: Sian Turner

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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 Sian Turner. 

Sian lives in Albany, Western Australia and has two picture books published — Beyond Our Garden Gate (illustrated by Irene King) and a brand new book called Can I come too, Eliza-Lou? (illustrated by Rebecca Cool).

Last week Deb Fitzpatrick asked Sian:

“I love that nature is such a big part of Beyond Our Garden Gate. Is this important in all of your books? Can you talk about your own experience of nature as a child?
 
Do your children help you write your books, or give you ideas?”

Sian answers:

Thanks for these questions Deb! I love watching children use their imaginations in the world around them and I hope this joy comes across in Beyond Our Garden Gate.  Nature is a big part of my life and, unintentionally, this creeps into my stories.

I’ve been writing two junior fiction novels which are not yet published. In one story, my main protagonist wants to be an Olympic athlete. The descriptions of the environment are quite rich in their imagery as she jogs through town on her training runs.  In the other story, my main character befriends a wacky neighbour who is a gardener and a retired concert pianist. This neighbour’s garden features in the manuscript.

Sian Turner
Sian Turner

Growing up, I had heaps of freedom roaming the outdoors on my bike. Holidays were spent with my family in a sleepy country town called Augusta on the Blackwood River so the beaches and the beautiful Karri Forests and caves of the South West are special to me.

Right now, I live in Albany so it is easy to be inspired with such rugged beauty on my doorstep.

In answer to the question do my children help me write my books or give me ideas?

Of course! I have a four year old, an eight year old and an eleven year old. They definitely help me when I am writing for children because I’m grounded through their experiences. Their personalities, what excites them and what they are interested in and the conversations I have with them about school and friends, all help me to create realistic children characters in the stories I’m working on.

Check out Sian Turner’s website for more about Sian and her books: sianturnerbooks.com


The Cosmic Adventures of Alice & Bob, written by Cristy Burne and illustrated by Aska.And now Sian passes the book baton to the next Friday visitor — Aśka. Aśka is a children’s book illustrator and a science communicator, and has been involved in product design, graphic novels, animation, graphic design and e-publishing.

Sian asks:

“Wow! You have travelled to some amazingly diverse and interesting places, Aśka.

I understand that these experiences have been a rich source of inspiration for your art. Can you elaborate on some of your favourite travel destinations? How have you found that these places have influenced your creativity?”

Check in every Friday for mini interviews with children’s authors and illustrators. (While you’re waiting you can catch up on all the interviews in the Pass the Book Baton series so far!)

Posted in authors, Pass the Book Baton

Pass the Book Baton: Deb Fitzpatrick

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Deb Fitzpatrick

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 Deb Fitzpatrick. 

Deb Fitzpatrick lives and works in Fremantle, WA and she writes novels for adults, young adults and children. Deb’s sixth novel, The Spectacular Spencer Gray, was published in mid 2017.

Last week Jen Storer asked Deb:
“How long do you spend planning a book before you start writing it? Also, do you put people or animals you know into your stories? ”


Deb answers:

I’m a pantser, I’m afraid, (that is: I fly by the seat of my pants and make it up as I’m going along, unlike a planner, who, well, plans and is sensible and orderly and grown up). So, I do very little planning for a book before I start writing it. I just launch on in and I love seeing what unfolds.
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Teachers are often rather appalled when I admit this to kids, which I do at every opportunity. Kids seem to love that I’m barely more mature than they are. I make up my stories as I’m going along, and if, in the course of the writing, I need to stop and think things through, I just do it then. Of course, this does sometimes mean that I have to go back and rewrite bits of my story, but I’m okay with that. Can I tell you a secret? This must only be read in a barely-heard whisper … I get bored with writing a story that I have planned too closely. Writing to a plan, for me, takes away the magic of discovery that is creative writing. Shhhhh!!! Don’t tell your teachers!
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I put versions of my two wonderful children in some of my books, but I always ask their permission before going ahead. Sometimes they don’t want certain things shared, and I respect that. I also get my kids to read a manuscript before I submit it to my publisher — so they can give me feedback, which I use!
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Check out Deb Fitzpatrick’s website to find out more about her and her books!
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Beyond our Garden Gate by Sian Turner and Irene KingAnd now Deb passes the book baton to the next Friday visitor — Sian Turner. Sian is a WA writer and her second picture book will be published in November 2017. (More about that next week!)

Deb asks:

“I love that nature is such a big part of Beyond Our Garden Gate. Is this important in all of your books? Can you talk about your own experience of nature as a child?
 
Also: do your children help you write your books, or give you ideas?”

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Check in every Friday for mini interviews with children’s authors and illustrators. (While you’re waiting you can catch up on all the interviews in the Pass the Book Baton series so far!)

Posted in authors, illustrator, Pass the Book Baton

Pass the Book Baton: Jen Storer

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Our Pass the Book Baton series took a break for the spring school holidays … and now it’s back! Every Friday we’ll feature a book creator who answers one question before throwing a new question to the next Friday visitor. (It’s kind of like a book relay in slow motion.) You can see earlier interviews in the series here.

You might remember that we left Tamsin Janu with the book baton in September. Today she passes the baton to Jen Storer. Welcome, Jen!

Jen Storer

Jen Storer writes … she illustrates … and she has so many novels and picture books behind her! Her writing features humour, adventure, and sometimes horror.

Here are just some of her books:

Last month Tamsin Janu asked:

What is the absolute best thing about being a children’s author? What aspects of writing do you find the most challenging?


Jen answers:

The best thing about writing for kids is meeting my readers! I love chatting to them in real life or via the post or email. I love seeing them dressed up as my characters, too, or when they use phrases my characters use.

I also love hearing from the parents of readers. Sometimes the letters from parents make me cry. A parent wrote to thank me for The Accidental Princess, it had comforted her daughter while she was dangerously ill and in hospital for a long time. Another parent wrote to say Clarrie Pig’s Day Out was the only story that calmed down her little boy after he’d had a terrible fright and would not come out from under his doona. These letters always amaze me. They’re the unexpected rewards that I hold dear.

I find the actual writing the most challenging aspect of being an author. I always want to do other stuff instead of sitting down and doing the writing! I have to bribe myself with chocolate.

For more about Jen Storer and her books — check out her website: girlandduck.com


The Spectacular Spencer Gray by Deb Fitzpatrick

And now Jen passes the book baton to the next Friday visitor — Deb Fitzpatrick. Deb has published books for adults, teenagers, and children. Her latest book is The Spectacular Spencer Gray.

Jen asks:
“How long do you spend planning a book before you start writing it? Also, do you put people or animals you know into your stories? 

Check in every Friday for mini interviews with children’s authors and illustrators. (You can catch up on all the interviews in the Pass the Book Baton series so far!)

Posted in authors, Pass the Book Baton

Pass the Book Baton: Tamsin Janu

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Photo of Tamsin Janu credit Shane Reid Adelaide Writers' WeekIt’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 award-winning author Tamsin Janu. We’re especially thrilled to have her visiting Alphabet Soup, because she has two new books out — Blossom, and Figgy Takes the City. (This latest book in the Figgy series is out in bookstores on 1 September 2017. Yes, that’s today!)

As well as writing award-winning books Tamsin has studied law at university, worked at a cake store, at a children’s shoe store, in a legal centre helping refugees, as a youth worker in remote Northern Territory, and as a research assistant at a charity.

Last week Tom Jellett asked

When you are writing, do you have a definite idea on where your story will go, or is it something you discover on the way there? How much of an influence are your characters on the story you end up with? I guess this is a roundabout way of asking: What comes first, story or characters?


Tamsin replies:

I don’t have a definite idea of where my story will go while I am writing it. Which is sometimes a bit scary — it’s like being dropped in the middle of nowhere without a map or a phone — but can also be exciting. I’m terrible at following maps in real life (I’m constantly getting lost), so I guess it’s not surprising that I wouldn’t try to follow a map when writing my stories! My unstructured way of writing does mean my first drafts are often quite messy, but they can always be fixed up after I’ve gotten the words down.

And with my books the characters generally come first, and the story follows. For the Figgy books it was the character of Figgy who began it all, a courageous Ghanaian girl ready for an adventure. And with my new book, Blossom, it was the character of Blossom I came up with first: a mysterious little girl arriving on a doorstep one night, with a story to tell. Once I have a character in mind, if I’m lucky the plot follows quickly!

Check out Tamsin Janu’s website for more about her and her books.

Read a review of Figgy in the World.

Read a review of Figgy and the President.


Danny Best Never Wrong by Jen Storer, ill. by Mitch VaneAnd now Tamsin passes the book baton to the next visitor — Jen Storer, author of many, many picture books and novels. You might know her Truly Tan series, Danny Best series, or some of her picture books like Blue, the Builder’s Dog.

Tamsin asks: 

What is the absolute best thing about being a children’s author? What aspects of writing do you find the most challenging?

[Pass the book baton will take a short break while our authors and illustrators recover from Book Week … er … Book Month. The interview series will resume in a few weeks with Jen Storer.]

While you’re waiting, you can catch up on all the interviews in the Pass the Book Baton series so far!

Posted in authors, Pass the Book Baton

Pass the Book Baton: Danny Parker

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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 Danny Parker. Danny Parker is the author of many picture books, and a new series called Lola’s Toybox. When he’s not writing books, Danny is a writing and drama teacher at a Perth boys school.

You might recognise some of these books:

Last week Aleesah Darlison asked:
You’ve worked with some amazing illustrators in the past, in particular Matt Ottley. Can you tell us how much interaction you have with Matt before and during the book creation process?


Danny answers:

I always feel completely confident when I know that Matt has one of my texts because I think that we both feel the same way about picture books. I know that he will never just ‘draw my words’ he will find a way of working that will be intelligent and surprising. He hides extra meaning inside his pictures, often exploring the story in new ways. This gives the reader such a rich experience.

Matt has taught me a lot about the picture book format. When I am writing I can almost hear him in my head saying, ‘If you can see it, don’t say it — trust me to show it.’ That sounds quite complicated but I think he understands story so well that he can interpret what you really mean in a text. Then when those first images come through I start to rework some of the words, because we don’t always want the words and pictures to be telling the same story! Sometimes we talk a great deal about what the book will look like, sometimes very little. Our latest book is called Sarah and the Steep Slope — I only saw a couple of pages from this book before he had finished the whole thing. It is extraordinary. [Sarah and the Steep Slope is out in August 2017.]

Sarah and the Steep Slope by Danny Parker and illustrated by Matt Ottley

Freya Blackwood is also great to work with — she often shares her ideas, and shows me little bits along the way. Her illustrations are always so beautifully observed. I really enjoyed seeing her illustrations for Perfect. This was a text with no real story or characters so she had to imagine and create it all. I love that she sometimes puts little pictures from her other books in her illustrations. There is a picture of Maudie and Bear hanging on the wall in Perfect.

It is a wonderful feeling when you open the package of illustrations for the first time. I have been so lucky, so far I’ve opened quite a few packages, and there are more to come — but it is always remarkable and magical. I can’t quite believe these books started with my stories!

For more about Danny Parker and his books, check out his website: dannyparker.com.au


And now Danny passes the book baton to the next Friday visitor — Tom Jellett. He has been an editorial illustrator (illustrating for newspapers), and the illustrator of a number of children’s books.

My Dad Thinks He's Funny by Katrina Germein, illustrated by Tom JellettDanny asks:
“If you could swap your skills as an illustrator for the skills of another art form — what would you want to swap with and why?
And who or what has been the biggest influence on your work — you have such a distinctive style — I’m looking at My Dad Thinks He’s Funny as i write this! How did you come up with your ‘look’?”

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

Happy Book Week!

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Posted in authors, Pass the Book Baton

Pass the book baton: Aleesah Darlison

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Secrets and Spells by Aleesah DarlisonIt’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 Aleesah Darlison. Aleesah writes picture books, chapter books, and series for children — she’s published 20 books since her first book was published in 2010. Aleesah’s latest book is Secrets & Spells (the first book in the Little Witch series).

Here are just some of Aleesah’s books:

Last week, Peter Carnavas asked:
You have written many different types of stories: picture books, funny stories, adventure stories, and books about the importance of looking after animals. Which stories do you enjoy writing the most, and is there a type of story you haven’t tried, but would love to?


Aleesah Darlison Aleesah replies:
It’s so hard to choose! I love writing all types of stories and sometimes different ideas lend themselves to different genres, styles or lengths of stories. Mostly, I like to write funny stories and if they can include an animal or two somewhere in the narrative, then all the better.

Picture books are wonderful to write because I am ‘gifted’ with an entire book of beautiful illustrations to accompany my text that are done by the talented artists and illustrators I work with. They bring my text alive with colour, light, layers and sometimes humour.

For more about Aleesah Darlison and her books, check out her website: www.aleesahdarlison.com


Lola's toy box (series by Danny Parker, ill by Guy Shield)And now Aleesah passes the book baton to the next Friday visitor — Danny Parker. Danny’s latest books are the first four books in a new series: Lola’s Toy Box, illustrated by Guy Shield, and a new picture book — Sarah and the Steep Slope, illustrated by Matt Ottley.

Aleesah asks:
“You’ve worked with some amazing illustrators in the past, in particular Matt Ottley. Can you tell us how much interaction you have with Matt before and during the book creation process?

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

See you next week!

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