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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 Sally Murphy. Sally has written over forty books for children including picture books, novels, non fiction, and verse novels. Her poetry has been published in magazines, anthologies and online. Sally’s latest book is Sage Cookson’s Fishy Surprise — book three in a series about a girl with parents who are celebrity tv chefs.

 

Sally’s next book — coming soon! — is called Looking Up. You might recognise some of these other books by Sally Murphy:

Last week Gabrielle Wang asked:
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 I’m interested in hearing about that transition between being unpublished to being published.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?

Sally answers:
Where did I begin? Gosh that’s a hard one — I was always a writer. I started writing ‘stories’ before I could actually write anything legible, and as I grew up I didn’t really stop. I made up poems and stories all the time. I always knew I wanted to be an author, though by the time I left school I was less sure about how I would achieve that and earn a living.

So, although I kept writing I also did other things: became an English teacher, got married, had children. And I wrote in my spare time, and I submitted manuscripts, not really knowing a lot about the industry. I was rejected repeatedly. But persistence paid off. First I had a few poems published in small publications. Then, by chance, I saw an advertisement for teachers to write educational resource books and the next thing I knew, I had my first book contract. I was published!

It was a few more years, still writing and bringing up children (I have six) before I realised my dream of having fiction published. The educational books gave me the confidence to keep going, and I spent a lot of time studying market guides, and researching publishers and publishing on the internet, as well as improving my writing by writing, rewriting, getting critiques from a critique group, attending conferences and workshops and so on.

Looking Up by Sally Murphy

Looking Up (coming soon!)

My first trade publication came about because I saw online a call for manuscripts for a new chapter book series. I read the guidelines carefully and also read the few titles which had already been published in the series, to get a feel for what the publisher (Banana Books) wanted. Then I wrote, revised and submitted two manuscripts. The day that one of those was accepted was amazing.

Now, twenty years from my first educational book being published, I’ve had over 40 books (trade and educational) published. I still get rejections — more rejections than acceptances. And every time I get one I feel sad. But I also know that no piece of writing is wasted. Published or unpublished, that manuscript has added to my skills, a bit like sportspeople learn from every game or every training session.

Do I ever want to give up? Yes. When I get lots of rejections. Or when I can’t get a story to work. Or when I get a negative review. But the feeling never lasts long. I’m a writer. Writing is what I do.

Visit sallymurphy.com.au to find out more about her and her books.


Dropping InAnd now Sally Murphy passes the baton to the next Friday visitor — Geoff Havel. Geoff’s most recent book is Dropping In; an action-packed novel that explores friendship, bullying, and living with a disability.

Sally asks:
What is the thing (or things) you are most proud of in your writing career to date?
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Check in every Friday for questions and answers from 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.)

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

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PASS THE BOOK BATON logo

 

This is our first Pass the Book Baton for 2017! What is Pass the Book Baton? Every Friday we 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.) Make sure you check out all all the posts from the Pass the Book Baton series so far.

To start off this year’s series, the baton is passed to Michael Gerard Bauer.

Michael Gerard Bauer

 

Michael Gerard Bauer is the author of many books for children and young adults. His latest book is a young adult title — The Pain, My Mother, Sir Tiffy, Cyber Boy and me and he has a picture book coming out soon (stay tuned!). You might recognise some of these books:

Last year Wendy Orr asked:
I’m curious whether, like me, you draw on different parts of yourself to create your characters (even if other people might not be able to see that ‘seed’ that started the process). Do you use any techniques to find these beginnings, or does the character appear to grow spontaneously, and you only recognise later the bit that sparked its creation?

Michael answers:

Bauer's latest young adult novel

I think I do draw on different parts of myself to create characters but I don’t think in most cases that I do it deliberately or consciously. I can certainly see myself, or aspects of myself, in main characters like Joseph in The Running Man, Corey from Just a Dog and Ishmael from the Ishmael series. Even the character of Maggie from The Pain, My Mother, Sir Tiffy, Cyber Boy and Me shares quite a bit in common with me — although I’d have to admit, there’s also a fair bit of me in The Pain! Having said that, I don’t ever see myself as being those characters, despite any similarities that might exist in our personalities and attitudes. I doubt that I could write about, or would want to write about, a central character to whom I couldn’t relate or empathise.

I really don’t apply any techniques to help find character beginnings. My characters seem to emerge and grow from the situations that I imagine them in and that’s more of a spontaneous thing. So with Joseph in The Running Man it started with me imagining a boy living next door to a mysterious and reclusive neighbour and wondering how he would deal with each situation as it arose. As a writer you find out more and more about your character as you develop your story. I think the part of you that is in the character is probably the strongest and most obvious at the start, and as you unearth the story and the character is placed in different situations, they take on different layers and dimensions and so they grow away from that seed of you to become unique identities in themselves.

Ultimately I believe the best thing you can do when developing characters is to stop thinking about them as characters but rather think about them as real people. Try to imagine their life outside the limits of your story for example and how they have become the people they are. When you stop looking at them as your ‘creation’ and give them room and freedom to grow, they tend to take on a life of their own and often reveal themselves to you in surprising ways.

Want to know more about Michael Gerard Bauer and his books? Visit his website: https://michaelgerardbauer.com/


The WishbirdAnd now Michael passes the baton to the next Friday visitor — Gabrielle Wang. Gabrielle is the author of picture books and novels, including two series in the Our Australian Girl series. Her latest novel is The Wishbird.

Michael asks:
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?
..
Check in every Friday for questions and answers from 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 we’ve featured a book creator who answered one question before throwing a new question to the next Friday visitor. (It’s kind of like a book relay in slow motion.) This is our last Pass the Book Baton post for 2016 but — after a summer break — we’ll be continuing with the series in 2017.

 

Today the book baton is passed to author 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. (You can read an excerpt if you go to the publisher’s site.)

Here are some of Wendy Orr’s book covers:

Last week Anna Ciddor asked:
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?

Wendy answers:
I agree with Anna Ciddor that it’s fascinating to find out how other authors work! It always seems to bear out the Somerset Maugham quote that there are three rules for writing a novel, but nobody knows what they are. I’m also intrigued — or depressed, depending on the day — that as soon as I figure out my own rules, I start a new book and the rules change. However, I always need to know several things before I start the book — the first scene and first line, a climactic scene, and the ending. Details about the ending sometimes change, but I have to know where it’s heading. And in general, I seem to be planning more now than I used to. For Dragonfly Song, when my editor asked if the first deadline was achievable, I made a list of all the scenes from where I was till the end. It was amazingly helpful (who knew!). Of course there were still surprises and aha! moments of insight, but I stuck to it fairly closely. Admittedly the book had been freewheeling in my head for the previous year.

As for speed — how I envy those fast writers! I’m very slow. It’s true I’ve got a huge list of books, but I’ve been writing for 30 years, and many of my early books were small. Dragonfly Song took 22 months, (ignoring several false starts over the previous 5 years) without working on anything else. I rewrite obsessively — and oh yes, the research! The two main problems are that I don’t always know what I need till I find it, and conversely, sometimes some little fact really has to be clarified before I can continue with the story. Then down the rabbit hole I go … And then have to rewrite again because there was too much research showing, and sometimes obscure facts have to be bent to suit the story! But what a feeling when I work something out to suit the story, thinking I’ve purely made it up — and then find the research that says my theory is right!

But all I really care about once a book finished is that the reader enjoys it and believes in it while they’re reading.

Happy reading!

Wendy

www.wendyorr.com


ERIC VALE OFF THE RAILSAnd now Wendy Orr passes the baton to the next visitor — Michael Gerard Bauer. Michael is an award-winning author who writes humorous books for children and young adults.

Wendy asks:
I’m curious whether, like me, you draw on different parts of yourself to create your characters (even if other people might not be able to see that ‘seed’   that started the process.) Do you use any techniques to find these beginnings, or does the character appear to grow spontaneously, and you only recognise later the bit that sparked its creation?

The series will be taking a break over the summer school holidays. We’ll leave Michael Gerard Bauer with some thinking music while he considers Wendy’s question …

And Pass the Book Baton will resume in 2017 with his answer.

See you next year! (While you’re waiting, you can check out all the book creators who have had the baton so far.)

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

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Meg McKinlay -- photo courtesy Fremantle PressPass the Book BatonIt’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 writer Meg McKinlay. She writes picture books, novels and poetry, and lives near the ocean in Western Australia.  Meg’s most recent books are Bella and the Wandering House and A Single Stone (which won the 2016 Prime Minister’s Literary Award in the young adult category).

You might recognise some of these books:


Last week Norman Jorgensen asked:
A single stoneHaving now won the Prime Minister’s Literary Award, as well as just about every other award in Australia for A Single Stone, do you have a new book in mind … or are you creating several projects at the same time?

Meg answers:
What is it that politicians love to say: I reject the premise of the question? 🙂 It’s true that I’ve been very fortunate with A Single Stone, but my dear friend Norman is stretching the truth just a little with his “just about every other award in Australia” line.

Now that we’ve cleared that up … the answer is i) yes and also ii) yes.

I most definitely have a new book in mind. The problem is that by now it should be well and truly out of my mind and onto the page. I’m working on a novel set in 1979 when the world’s first space station — Skylab — was falling to earth. It’s the story of a girl named Frankie who lives in the Southwest of WA, and her science-obsessed little brother Newt, who becomes fixated on Skylab for spoilferific reasons I must not divulge at this time. This book is fully formed in my brain and just needs to make it to my typing fingers. I’m hoping to have it done very soon.

And I am also creating several other projects. I have three picture books in various stages of the production line:

Once Upon a Small Rhinoceros, which I am gleeful about, will be out in August next year. It’s about a small rhinoceros who sets out to sail the world, and will be illustrated by Leila Rudge.

Drawn Onward, which is unlike anything I’ve ever done before — a book about perception and optimism which relies on an unusual structure and will be aimed at older readers — is being illustrated by Bunbury artist Andrew Frazer, and will be out in October-ish.

And finally … Duck! (because everyone knows the world can never have too many books about ducks) is in the early stages of illustration by Nathaniel Eckstrom. This is going to be a barrel of fun and I can’t wait to read it to kids.

Stop by Meg McKinlay’s website for more about her and her books.


The family with two front doorsAnd now Meg McKinlay passes the baton to the next Friday visitor — Anna Ciddor. Anna is the author of 56 books and is the illustrator for most of them, too. Her most recent book is The Family with Two Front Doors.

Meg asks:
You’re a writer and an illustrator — good grief! Do you feel equally comfortable doing both, or does one come more naturally to you?
..
Check in every Friday for questions and answers from children’s authors and illustrators.
 ..
See you next week!

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PASS THE BOOK BATON

 

Norman Jorgensen in Northumberland. (Photo © Jan Nicholls.)It’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.)

Norman Jorgensen takes the book baton today. Norman is the award-winning author of many adventure-filled books. His books are inspired by travelling, old movies and old books. His latest book is The Smuggler’s Curse.

You might recognise some of these page-turners:

If you love a good swashbuckling adventure you can read a sample chapter of The Smuggler’s Curse thanks to Fremantle Press.

Last week Catherine Carvell asked Norman a question:

Your latest book The Smugglers Curse was released in October and what an adventure! My question to you is, have you based any of The Smugglers Curse on real life? And if so, which bits are real?

 Norman answers:

That’s an interesting question. The Smuggler’s Curse is high adventure, and a lot of the action is total fantasy, however, it is grounded in real history, and the locations are very real. I visited all the places mentioned in the story and then had to imagine what they would have been like back in 1895 when the story is set. Sometimes it was easy. The headhunters’ long house in Sumatra did not look like it had changed at all in 120 years. To my surprise and concern, there were still skulls hanging from the rafters.

Looking at old photographs, Broome and Albany and Cossack, and even Fremantle, were much the same now as back then, except for paved roads and cars, of course. I expect, too, they now smell a lot better, no longer having open sewers and outside dunnies, and no open drains in the streets, or mountains of horse manure that would have littered the roadways. Modern Singapore, on the other hand, bears no comparison with Colonial Singapore. It is a rich, bustling city where once it was a sleepy mosquito-infested outpost.

I set the book in first-person, pretending I was Red, the hero, and he is a bit like me in that he is scared of all sorts of things. We both hate heights, sharks, soldiers with bayonets trying to skewer him, and falling from the masthead, but Red tries to be brave no matter what the circumstances.

The skipper of the Black Dragon schooner — Captain Black Bowen, the notorious smuggler — I based on movie star called Errol Flynn who was a swashbuckling hero back in the days of black and white movies. I loved his movies Captain Blood, The Adventures of Robin Hood, The Sea Hawk and many others. Real life? Probably not, though he was a famous adventurer in real life.

The sailing scenes are definitely real. When I was about 12 years old, my father and I made a dinghy, and we used to go sailing together on the Swan River, and sometimes the Indian Ocean. Like the Black Dragon in the Andaman Sea, we were once caught in a fierce storm, washed way out to sea and nearly killed. The excitement and terror I wrote about Red feeling on the deck of the Dragon were based on that experience.

I hope you enjoy reading about Red’s adventures and imagining all the places he gets taken while on board the Black Dragon.

Happy reading,

Norman

You can read earlier interviews with Norman Jorgensen here and here.


a single stoneAnd now Norman Jorgensen passes the baton to the next Friday visitor — Meg McKinlay. Meg is the author of many books including A Single Stone, Ten Tiny Things, and Duck for a Day.

Norman asks:
Having now won the Prime Minister’s Literary Award, as well as just about every other award in Australia for A Single Stone, do you have a new book in mind … or are you creating several projects at the same time?
.
Check in every Friday for questions and answers from children’s authors and illustrators.
 .
See you next week!

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