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

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PASS THE BOOK BATON

It’s Friday! And that means it’s time for Pass the Book Baton. 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 we are lucky to have two visitors at once! Joshua Button and Robyn Wells collaborated over ten years to create their recently published picture book Steve Goes to Carnival.

Joshua Button and Robyn Wells.

Joshua Button and Robyn Wells.

Joshua Button is an Indigenous artist from Broome. He is descended from the Walmajarri people of the East Kimberley in Western Australia. He first worked with Robyn in a literacy program at primary school that resulted in the picture book Joshua and the Two Crabs. Robyn has a degree in Fine Arts and has lived in the Kimberley for many years. She is passionate about enabling young people to express themselves through language and art.

Kathryn Apel posed a question for Joshua and Robyn. Kathryn asks:

Q. I read that you collaborate for hours over the kitchen table. Can you describe your process — and how you came to form this wonderful working partnership?

Joshua answers:
Robyn and I help each other a lot with the artwork. Robyn often cuts out stencils and does the background textures with sponges. Then I usually use black drawing ink to paint the characters or animals over the background textures.

Robyn and I research the animals and characters together. We look at the size and shape of the animals, the structure of their bones and the texture of their fur. Sometimes we take photos of people we know in Broome to base the drawings on — we study the colour of people’s skin, how they are standing, the expressions on their faces and what clothes they are wearing.

Robyn and I work really well together. We don’t have any arguments — working with someone else means it takes half the time to finish the work!

[Here are some photos of Joshua Button and Robyn Wells working together. Thank you to Magabala Books for permission to use these photos.]

Joshua and Robyn creating a picture book together.

Joshua and Robyn creating a picture book together.

Joshua working with ink.

Joshua working with ink.

 


 

LILY IN THE MIRROR by Paula Hayes.

And now Joshua and Robyn pass the book baton to next Friday’s visitor — Paula Hayes. Paula is the author of the novel Lily in the Mirror.

Our question for Paula Hayes is:
Your character Lily loves all things dark and mysterious. Were you inspired by any real life mysteries, strange events or unusual people?

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


Visit Magabala Books for more information about Joshua Button and Robyn Wells and their books. You can read a recent review of Steve Goes to Carnival here on Alphabet Soup.

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PASS THE BOOK BATON

Today we introduce a new Friday feature — Alphabet Soup will be featuring a book creator every Friday who will answer one question. And then they will ask one question of the next Friday’s visitor. (It’s kind of like a book relay in slow motion.)

We’re thrilled to have Kathryn Apel visiting for our first ever Pass the Book Baton! Kathryn writes poetry, picture books, novels and verse novels. You might know some of her books from the photo below.

 

Kathryn starts our interview series, so we asked Joseph to give her an interview question. (Joseph is 12, and is one of our Top Reads team members. He has reviewed Kathryn’s verse novels for Alphabet Soup.)

Q. I really enjoyed Bully on the Bus and On Track, both verse novels. But you’ve written other books, too. Why did you decide to write those two books as verse novels?

A. Verse novels very often deal with issues that have a lot of heart. They have humour and laughter too, but I think the raw emotions are key. I really wanted to try writing a verse novel, and chose a topic that would interest sporty kids. My first attempt was a verse novel about training, with threads of sibling rivalry and self-doubt. But I didn’t get far before I panicked. In fact, I’d only written 139 words! (I think I was feeling that self-doubt!)

Bully on the busI put it away to think about (or forget about) and went back to polishing a manuscript about bullying. It was a chapter book I’d written for younger readers. But then I had feedback from a critique-buddy, and realised the chapter book I was writing was really the verse novel I wanted to write. I sat down straight away, and started working Bully on the Bus into a verse novel. At first, I thought I’d flick between verse and prose (poetry and paragraphs) … but once I started, the prose sounded clunky and heavy, whereas the verse was lighter and so much better. It all needed to be written in verse.

Bully on the Bus was accepted … and published … and I was still writing that verse novel about training; On Track. I thought it was going to tell Toby’s story. I didn’t realise that his older brother Shaun also had a story to tell. Being a verse novel made it easier to feel the emotions from both sides — and to switch between the two brothers.

On track (cover)My heart soars when I’m writing verse novels. Maybe because I’m writing about topics that are important? That can make a difference in someone’s life? Or maybe because they’re just so very beautiful to write … and read. Though I do often get teary when writing them … and reading them — even my own. It’s also fun to slip in short and snappy little jokes, and the verse novel format enables that.

Writing a novel — without the verse — scares me. It seems so enormous! But writing a verse novel, I can write short, complete pieces, individual poems that slowly, carefully, bit by bit, build to tell the story.

I remember when you reviewed Bully on the Bus, Joseph, you said you would like to read more verse novels and maybe write one, too. I’m wondering how you’ve got on with that. Don’t worry if you haven’t written much yet — ideas grow once you’ve made the start.


Steve goes to carnivalAnd now Kathryn can pass the book baton to our next visitor. (Actually two visitors at once — Joshua Button and Robyn Wells who are the author-illustrators behind Steve Goes to Carnival.)

My question for Joshua Button & Robyn Wells:   I read that you collaborate for hours over the kitchen table. Can you describe your process — and how you came to form this wonderful working partnership?


Visit Kathryn Apel’s website: https://katswhiskers.wordpress.com/ to find out more about her and her books. (You can also read Joseph’s reviews of her verse novels Bully on the Bus and On Track here on Alphabet Soup.)

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Every Friday Alphabet Soup will feature an interview with a children’s book creator — writers, illustrators and writer-illustrators. Our Friday guest will answer a question and then ask one question of the next writer or illustrator. (It’s a bit like running a book relay in slow motion.)

We’re calling it:

PASS THE BOOK BATON

Be sure to check in on Fridays. Our first writer will be setting off with the baton tomorrow morning.  See you then!

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