I'm a children's author, wife and mum in no particular order. I perform these jobs simultaneously and I love them all!

Wednesday 5 November 2014

Craig Smith - Illustrator Visit

People who know me well know how much I love listening to children’s authors and illustrators talking about their work. More and more are coming via Newcastle and I got the chance to catch one not so long ago.

Craig Smith visited the Newcastle Library on Wednesday 17th September and entertained children and adults with his illustration skills and tales. (Not ‘Craig Smith – Wonky Donkey’ fame)

His collection of published books is impressive and includes titles such as, ‘The Windy Farm’ by Doug MacLeod, ‘I Was Only Nineteen’ by John Schumann, ‘Sister Madge’s Book of Nuns’ by Doug MacLeod, and ‘Where are you Banana?’ by Sofie Laguna. But his list is extensive. More information can be found on his website:


Craig showed us several original illustrations from his published books including ‘Billy The Punk’. Looking at finished illustrations for picture books always leaves me in awe. I don’t have the skills to draw a cat out of two circles, so I find it hard to comprehend one person having so much talent.  

Then Craig asked us to pick up a pencil and come on a dramatic illustration journey with him from his book, ‘Doctor Frankenstein’s Other Monster’. Me - pick up a pencil and draw? Oh no!

As he showed us how to interpret a piece of manuscript as an illustrator, he also guided us on how to draw the main character. As this mini workshop unfolded, so did a drawing on my page. I know you want to see it but lucky for you I can’t find it anywhere. This is what it was supposed to look like and there was a resemblance if you squinted a little:

I had a quick chat to Craig after his presentation. What a lovely person! I walked away feeling very inspired by all of his successes and a little shocked he had me drawing.

I have had a copy of ‘Sister Madge’s Book of Nuns’ for over 25 years. My edition was published in 1986. I hadn't made the connection until Craig's presentation.

Thanks Craig for your time. It was a pleasure meeting you.

Monday 3 November 2014

Julia Gillard - In Conversation

I had the great privilege of meeting Ms Julia Gillard last night as she stopped in Newcastle during her ‘My Story’ Book Tour.

I was one of 700 people who filled the Concert Hall in Newcastle City Hall. We were all very excited to be in her presence and listen to what she had to say. Her autobiography titled, ‘My Story’ is 504 pages long so she had many juicy stories to tell.

MacLean’s Booksellers, our local independent bookseller hosted this amazing event and I was lucky enough as a Newcastle Writers’ Festival committee member to be invited as a VIP for the evening. FRONT ROW SEAT!

Pre-presentation drinks with Ms Gillard were top secret – even the press was not allowed in. I can’t tell you any of my secrets but I will let you know she shook my hand as we were introduced and she touched my shoulder as she left the room. She had a wonderful presence about her and she looked fabulous! What a classy lady.

During her conversation with Rosemarie Milson, director of The Newcastle Writers’ Festival and a Newcastle Herald journalist, Ms Gillard was captivating. I’m not interested in politics generally, but I listened to every word. She spoke with careful confidence and was interesting, inspiring and graceful. She spoke on many issues, but the issue that resonated with me was gender equality. She explained how she believes men should stand up alongside women and support gender equality in our society. The supporting applause was deafening.

I was quite teary at times as I listened to her account of her time as PM. Ms Gillard and Rosemarie discussed her growing resilience and how she used it to navigate her way through the tough times (and there were many). It was an honour to join the audience in giving her a standing ovation as we thanked her for sharing her story. I WAS IN AWE!

I’m now a proud owner of a signed copy of her autobiography and I have that moment in time when we met (twice actually). This was a very moving experience for me. If you get a chance to listen to Ms Gillard, you won’t be disappointed.

This photo just will not face the right way!