Posted in authors, illustrator, Pass the Book Baton

Pass the Book Baton: Jen Storer

PASS THE BOOK BATON logo

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 illustrator, Pass the Book Baton

Pass the Book Baton: Tom Jellett

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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 we are extra excited about the book baton being passed to Tom Jellett. Instead of running with it … he started illustrating … keep reading for his illustrated answer (and question) below!

Tom has been the editorial illustrator for a number of Australian newspapers, is the illustrator of many wonderful picture books, and has also illustrated some of your favourite chapter books.

Here are just some of the books he has illustrated:

Last week Danny Parker asked:
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’?


Tom Jellett replies:

Illustrations copyright Tom Jellett 2017. I love being an illustrator but if there was one other artform I love just as much ... it would be music. It means a lot to me and I listen to it all the time. But making music is a mystery to me. I would love to play in a band - if they needed a triangle player. I get influenced and inspired by a lot of stuff, a lot of the time, from every week in magazines like The New Yorker to contemporary picture books by new illustrators here and overseas as well as the classics I grew up with.

Check out Tom Jellett’s website for more about him and his books: tomjellett.com


Blossom by Tamsin JanuAnd now Tom Jellett passes the book baton to the next Friday visitor — Tamsin Janu. Tamsin is the author of Figgy in the World, its sequel — Figgy and the President, and a new book called Blossom.

Tom asks:
What comes first, story or characters? (Illustration copyright Tom Jellett 2017)

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

Happy Book Week!

Illustrations in this post are copyright Tom Jellett 2017.

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Posted in authors, illustrator, Pass the Book Baton

Pass the book baton: Peter Carnavas

PASS THE BOOK BATON logo

Our Pass the Book Baton series took a break for the winter 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.

The Elephant

 

You might remember that we left Katrina Germein with the book baton in June. Today she passes the baton to Peter Carnavas.

Peter Carnavas is an award-winning author-illustrator. His picture books have been translated into German, Portuguese, Dutch, Korean, Slovenian, Arabic, Italian and more!

His latest book is a novel called  The Elephant.  It’s about a girl called Olive, and an unwelcome elephant that nobody else can see …

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You might recognise some of these books:

Back in Term 2, Katrina Germein asked:
Sometimes you write, sometimes you illustrate and sometimes you write and illustrate. What’s the hardest thing about being so talented?


Peter Carnavas photoPeter replies:
Thanks for the (slightly embarrassing) question, Katrina.

It’s true that I write and illustrate, sometimes making books by myself, sometimes working with another author or illustrator. The hardest thing about this is I don’t have enough time to do everything I want to do! It takes a long time to make a book – months and months, sometimes over a year — and I have lots of little ideas that will never escape my head.

That’s not a very hard thing, though. There are lots of jobs that are much harder than making books. The most difficult thing, really, is trying to get my hand to draw the picture that I can see in my head. Sometimes it works, sometimes it doesn’t. It’s also hard trying to finish a book on time. It’s just like handing a school project into your teacher, except I hand mine into a publisher. I often reach my deadline and have to write an email to the publisher begging for a little bit more time to finish the pictures!

For more about Peter Carnavas and his books — check out his website.


Secrets and Spells by Aleesah DarlisonAnd now Peter Carnavas passes the baton to the next visitor — Aleesah Darlison, author of picture books, novels and series.

Peter asks:
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?”

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

See you next week!

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Posted in illustrator, Pass the Book Baton

Pass the Book Baton: Gabriel Evans

PASS THE BOOK BATON

Gabriel EvansIt’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 Gabriel Evans. He has illustrated over twenty books and designed over a hundred greeting cards, painted large gallery artwork, and travelled across Australia presenting illustration workshops and seminars in schools and festivals.

Here are some of the books he’s illustrated:

Last week Sue Whiting asked:
What would you do differently in terms of the development of your career as an illustrator if you had your time over again?

Gabriel answers:
It has been an absolute pleasure working with Sue during her time at Walker Books.

If I was to have my time again I would definitely experiment more with my art. I was always trying to make perfect, beautiful pictures that limited my experimentation.

It’s only in recent years I take enormous pleasure and satisfaction from making risks and discovering new, creative systems. That means using BIG brushes, spray bottles, palette knives, goose feathers, cardboard, fingers, sticks and anything else I can think of.

It’s all about learning through creative, messy fun!

Find out more about Gabriel Evans and his books and art — visit his website!


Meet MarlyAnd now Gabriel passes the book baton to the next Friday visitor — Alice Pung. Alice writes books for a range of ages. You might have read her Marly books from the Our Australian Girl series.

Gabriel asks:
“You’re both a solicitor and author. How do you balance these two jobs? Is there a connection between the two?”

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

See you next week!

Posted in authors, illustrator, Pass the Book Baton

Pass the book baton: Kelly Canby

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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Posted in authors, illustrator, Pass the Book Baton

Pass the book baton: Kylie Howarth

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 picture book author and illustrator, Kylie Howarth. Kylie’s books have been published in Australia, New Zealand, France and the USA. She grew up in the country with a dog, sheep, orphaned kangaroos and even an echidna.

Last week Geoff Havel asked:
How much of your love of stories and your ability to write them comes from your own childhood on a farm and how much comes from being surrounded by children now?

Kylie Howarth answers:
I do draw from my own childhood and now more than ever appreciate all the experiences my parents gave me. Not every kid had pet kangaroos or spent a year traveling around Australia. As a child I loved drawing and have always been fond of animals and the beach, which are both reoccurring themes in my books.

That being said I am now focused on creating stories that my children love. Their interests and personalities are definitely the biggest inspiration for my work. They contribute so much to my books too as I am constantly tweaking text and layouts based on their reactions and feedback. We also create paintings together in our backyard art sessions, which I then scan and use as textures in my illustrations.

For more info about Kylie Howarth and her books (and colouring sheets and craft activities), visit www.kyliehowarth.com


Celebrating Australia: a year in poetry (cover)And now Kylie Howarth passes the baton to the next Friday visitor — Lorraine Marwood. Lorraine is an award-winning children’s author and poet. Her most recent poetry collection is Celebrating Australia: A Year in Poetry.

Kylie asks:
“Which of your poems or books means the most to you?”
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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: Gabrielle Wang

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.)

Gabrielle WangToday the book baton is passed to author and illustrator, Gabrielle Wang. Gabrielle writes and illustrates picture books and novels, including two series in the Our Australian Girl series. Her latest novel is The Wishbird. Gabrielle says her Chinese heritage influences all her work and she likes to include Chinese philosophy and folktales in her novels. Keep an eye out for her new book The Beast of Hushing Wood, which will be published in April 2017.

Here are some of Gabrielle Wang’s books:

Last week, Michael Gerard Bauer asked:
In general I’d love to know how being an illustrator impacts on your writing. For example, if you are writing a novel, do you find yourself creating illustrations for the characters or scenes even though they might not be included in the published work? Have characters or stories ever started from something you have drawn? Is visual imagery an important part of your writing style?

Gabrielle answers:
While working on a novel, I don’t think about the illustrations. I do think in pictures and scenes though. Being a visual person, the very first thing I need to come up with when I begin a new novel is the setting. Only then can my characters begin to act out their story.

The Beast of Hushing Wood
The Beast of Hushing Wood will be published in April 2017.

In my forthcoming novel, The Beast of Hushing Wood, the woods play a major role. It is a character with its own moods, mysteries and emotions. Because of this it was important for me to travel to the USA to do research. I needed to immerse myself in place — to walk, feel, smell, touch and taste the woods before I could write about them.

Once I’ve completed the novel and it has been through all the major editing phases with my publisher, I then go back through the text wearing my illustrator’s hat. If a particular scene stands out and excites me then that’s the one I will illustrate. At the same time, I need to be practical and make sure that the illustrations are evenly distributed throughout, especially those that are full-page.

Because painting gives me such joy, I illustrate almost everyday. It’s a form of relaxation. I don’t know what I’m going to paint until I begin. I like illustrating animals so many story ideas come out of these illustrations. One day I would like to publish a picture book.

Visit gabriellewang.com to find out more about Gabrielle Wang and her books.


Sage Cookson book 1And now Gabrielle Wang passes the baton to the next Friday visitor — Sally Murphy. Sally has written over forty books for children including Pearl Verses the World, and a new series about the daughter of celebrity tv chef parents.

Gabrielle asks:
“I would love to know how you began. I’m interested in hearing about that transition between being unpublished to being published. Did it take you long? Did you ever want to give up? Did you have many rejections?”
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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: Anna Ciddor

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 author and illustrator, Anna Ciddor. Anna has written and illustrated over fifty books on topics as diverse as Vikings, Australia, goldfish, and tournaments. Her most recent book is The Family with Two Front Doors — a true story about a family of nine children who lived in Poland in the 1920s.

You might recognise some of these books:

Last week Meg McKinlay asked:
You’re a writer and an illustrator — good grief! Do you feel equally comfortable doing both, or does one come more naturally to you?

Anna answers:
Well, to tell the truth, even though I have been a full-time author and illustrator for nearly thirty years, I don’t find either writing or illustrating quick and easy! For me, they both need lots and LOTS of drafts and research and planning. Here’s a behind-the-scenes look at how I wrote and illustrated The Family with Two Front Doors so you can see what I mean.

Step 1 Planning and research
The Family with Two Front Doors is based on stories my late Nana told me about her childhood. I planned each chapter of the book, including the ending, then sat down to bring the first scene to life in my head. I quickly discovered I had a problem. Nana never told me what clothes she wore as a child and, sadly, she was no longer around to help. If I can’t picture a scene, I can’t write it, so I had to stop and research the types of clothes worn by religious Jewish children in 1920s Poland. All through the book there were delays while I researched details before I could picture each scene.

Step 2 The Writing
When I write, I constantly ask myself, ‘Does this word give the best picture of what I am trying to say?’ For example, in one sentence I wrote ‘Yakov ran through the door,’ but then I realised I needed a more descriptive word than ran. Maybe burst would be better? Or scampered? Which word gave the best picture of what Yakov was doing? As you can imagine, this makes the writing process extremely slow. It took me four years to research and write The Family with Two Front Doors!

Step 3 The editing
When I deliver a book to the publishers, it is very exciting and scary, waiting to find out if they like it. Luckily, they loved The Family with Two Front Doors but it took me a few months to write the few changes they suggested because I am so slow!

Step 4 Illustrating
For me, this is the last step. Even though The Family with Two Front Doors was going to have tiny black and white illustrations, I wanted them to be perfect. I drew them over and over again. The faces of the characters had to be exactly the way I imagined them, and their clothes, and details, such as the sewing machine, had to be historically accurate. Those few tiny illustrations took me months!

Visit Anna Ciddor’s site for more about her and her books!


Dragonfly SongAnd now Anna Ciddor passes the baton to the next Friday visitor — Wendy Orr. Wendy’s books have been published in 25 countries and languages and have won awards in Australia and overseas. Her Nim’s Island books were made into movies. Wendy Orr’s latest book is Dragonfly Song.

Anna asks:
I love to find out how other authors work. There are two parts to my question. Firstly, do you plan the whole book, including the end, before you begin (like I do), or are you one of those authors who start writing without knowing the ending? And secondly, once you begin writing, do you slow yourself down with research and re-writing (like I do), or are you one of those amazing authors who can work fast?
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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: James Foley

PASS THE BOOK BATON

James Foley photoIt’s Friday! And that means it’s time for Pass the Book Baton. Alphabet Soup features a book creator every Friday 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 author-illustrator James Foley takes the baton. James Foley is a writer, illustrator and cartoonist. He likes working with pen and ink, pencil, charcoal, watercolour, and digital tools. He has illustrated books by other people, and written and illustrated his own books.

He has quite a stack of books behind him now.

Check them out:

His most recent book is the graphic novel Brobot.

Last week AL Tait posed two questions for James. AL asks:

Q. You started out as an illustrator — what made you decide to write In The Lion and Brobot yourself?

A. I’ve always written and illustrated my own stories; it just worked out that my first book was only as the illustrator. It’s easier to break into the industry by working with someone more established, as Norman Jorgensen was. Then I got the opportunity to make In The Lion on my own, which was great. It’s a different experience writing AND illustrating a book yourself, as opposed to illustrating a text written by someone else (as I did with Sigi Cohen for My Dead Bunny) or collaborating with a writer quite closely through the initial process (as I did with Norman Jorgensen for The Last Viking and The Last Viking Returns). Also, when you do the book yourself you get the full royalty … 😉

Q. As an author-illustrator, do you start with the words for a story or start with the pictures?
I usually start with a bit of both — some loose images and a few phrases. I may have a few key scenes playing in my head, but they’re fragments of what the overall story will eventually become. Then I nut out the character designs and the overall storyline at the same time; these two processes feed off each other. A character design may give you a plot idea, and vice versa. Then when the characters and the storyline seem to have settled, I can get started on thumbnails and storyboards, and then final artwork.


The Stupendously Spectacular Spelling BeeAnd now James Foley passes the baton to the next Friday visitor — Deborah Abela. Deborah is the author of many books. Her most recent title is The Stupendously Spectacular Spelling Bee.

James asks:
Do you find that your characters reflect different aspects of your personality? So the heroic characters might reflect your good side, the villains might reflect your naughty side, the protagonists might share your strengths and weaknesses, etc?

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


Visit James Foley’s website for more information about him and his books. You can also read earlier Alphabet Soup interviews with James here and here.

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Posted in authors, illustrator

Tania McCartney on creating a picture book

Tania McCartney is the author of fiction and nonfiction picture books. Now she is launching the first book she has written and illustrated. Today one of our regular book reviewers — Matilda, aged 10 — asks Tania some questions about her new book Australia, illustrated.

 

Matilda: Why did you think of illustrating this book yourself when your other books are illustrated by other people?

Tania: Just like you, I’m sure, I absolutely loved to draw when I was a kid. Writing and drawing was my thing. I did it right through school and into high school but then something terrible happened. I became an adult.

Well, actually — it’s not terrible to become an adult! But what IS terrible is that so many adults stop doing the things they love, and instead do the things they ‘should’. So I lost my ability to draw, and I really, honestly believed I could no longer do it.

I began writing children’s books around 10 years ago (around when you were born! spooky!), and I had a secret dream to illustrate my own books. I never, ever thought that would happen because I still believed I could no longer draw.

Then, in 2014, I started the 52-Week Illustration Challenge [a group of illustrators where the members each create their own illustration in response to a weekly prompt] and over two years I learned that I could still draw! I couldn’t believe it! At first, my drawings were pretty horrid, but over that time, they quickly improved — and that goes to show that practice does make ‘better’!

I was stunned and delighted when my publisher said they’d be happy for me to illustrate my new book idea — Australia Illustrated. I was also a bit scared. Could I do it??? Well, I did. And I still have to pinch myself!

Here is a picture of my first drawing for the 52-Week Illustration Challenge, and then after that you’ll see a page from Australia Illustrated. Do you think I’ve improved?

Eggs illustration
Tania’s first illustration in the 52-week illustration challenge.

 

A page from the first book Tania illustrated.
A page from Tania’s new book.

Matilda: How did you have the idea for a book like this about Australia?

Tania: There are so many books about Australia, but I wanted to do something really different. I don’t know of any other book like this one.

For a start, it’s a whopping 96 pages! (Picture books are generally 24 to 32 pages.) And it’s also unusual in that it’s mostly pictures, with only a handful of words.

It also covers parts of Australia that are really well known (like our animals and icons like the Sydney Opera House) but it covers things people don’t know much about, too — like quokka selfies or Tasmanian chocolate factories.

The other thing I’ve done with Australia Illustrated is that I’ve included lots and lots and lots of kids of all different cultures and races. I think it’s important to celebrate the multicultural country we live in!

Matilda: How many of the places in your book have you also been to?

Tania: What a great question. I’m going to look through the book and tell you exactly!

Okay, I’m back. So, out of all the places I cover in the book (towns, sites, states) I’ve been to around 70 out of around 100. This doesn’t include the maps I’ve done for each state which have hundreds of place names — though I have been to a lot of those places, too. I like to travel!

My big dream is to go to Uluru. I used to be a flight attendant and I used to fly over it all the time! If they’d given me a parachute, I could have jumped out and gone to see it! I’m hoping next year I can go.

Matilda: What was different about illustrating your own book instead of having someone else illustrate it?

Tania: Oh, it was SO different. It was the first time I’d ever illustrated an actual book so I wasn’t really sure how to do things. In fact, I did the cover first … and books are hardly ever done that way! But it worked out really well for me.

It was fantastic being able to have control over how the book looked visually. And it was also fantastic to get to draw whatever I wanted — it was such a creative process and I loved it so much. I could mix things up and change things and dream up kooky things. It was just SO much fun.

When you have an illustrator doing pictures for you, it’s a whole different experience because the illustrator reads your words and has their own thoughts about how the pictures should look. When my illustrators send me their pictures, it’s like Christmas! Opening the email to get a wonderful surprise — a beautiful picture. It’s really exciting — and you can never guess what they might have created.

You may have heard of that saying ‘two heads are better than one’ and when I work with an illustrator, I find they bring so many great ideas and thoughts to the text. They might read my words and see things completely differently from me — and they could add some wonderful things to the story with their illustrations … extra things that I may not have thought of.

I love both ways — illustrating my own books and having illustrators create the pictures, too. They are totally different but both are a lot of fun.

Oh, and also — when you illustrate your own book, it’s twice the work!

Matilda: Are you planning to illustrate more books?

Tania: I am. I’ve already started on three illustrated books and each one of them is going to be digitally illustrated. In December, I’m starting work on a big book for the National Library of Australia. I’m doing the illustrating but someone else is compiling the book — someone quite famous! I can’t say more yet but I’m really excited about that one.

I also have some ideas for more picture books I want to illustrate but I want to try a different style — perhaps just watercolour. And a few people have asked me to illustrate their books, too. I might be doing one for a friend, not sure yet — we’ll see! The thing about publishing is that we so often say ‘we’ll see!’

Thanks for the wonderful questions, Matilda. I just loved them.

Australia Illustrated launch poster

 

Visit Tania McCartney’s website www.taniamccartney.com for more information about her books and to join in the celebrations for the launch of Australia Illustrated. 

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