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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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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Pass the book baton: Peter Carnavas

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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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Pass the book baton: Katrina Germein

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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 best-selling author Katrina Germein. Katrina lives in Adelaide with her family and her dog, Mango. Her first picture book (Big Rain Coming, illustated by Brownyn Bancroft) has been in print since 1999. Her latest picture book is Great Goal! Marvellous Mark! illustrated by Janine Dawson.

Here are just some of Katrina’s books:

Last week Raewyn Caisley asked:
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?


Katrina Germein signing booksKatrina replies:
Good question, Raewyn. I don’t set out to write about particular topics but some themes are quite common in my stories. The natural environment and the beach come up a lot, as do dogs and family. They must all be important to me. I’d like to write about a mermaid because I love the sea. (I’ve been trying to write that story for a long time but I can’t quite get it right!)

My new book Great Goal! Marvellous Mark! is inspired by my two sons. I’m influenced by people and things that I Iove. So perhaps love is the thing that all of my books have in common.

For more about Katrina Germein and her books, check out her website: katrinagermein.com


The elephant (cover) by Peter Carnavas.And now Katrina Germein passes the baton to the next visitor — Peter Carnavas, an award-winning author-illustrator. His latest book is a novel, The Elephant.

Katrina asks:
“Hi Peter,
Sometimes you write, sometimes you illustrate and sometimes you write and illustrate. What’s the hardest thing about being so talented?”
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Pass the book baton is taking a break for the Australian school holidays. The interview series will resume in August.
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In the meantime, you can read all the interviews in the Pass the Book Baton series!

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Pass the book baton: Raewyn Caisley

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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 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: Bren MacDibble

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: Cristy Burne

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!