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

Wednesday 27 May 2015

'Dandelions' Update

Are you wondering where our picture book Dandelions is up to?

We know it has been a long time since Kirrili and I first announced we had a book accepted for publication as an author/illustrator team. In fact, we were accepted verbally in May last year.Remember? We celebrated with a glass of champagne in the foyer of the National Library in Canberra. We will never for forget that moment. We signed our contract soon afterwards.

It’s now May 2015, a year later, and the book is still coming. For those who are not in the industry, this timeframe is normal – very normal.

Late last year we found out our publication date had been brought forward. The book was originally going to be released in early 2016 and now it was going to be released before Christmas 2015. Then we were told our book would be distributed in five different countries (Australia, UK, US, Canada and NZ).  FIVE!  Wonderful news! Lots of children worldwide would have a copy of our book under their 2015 Christmas tree.  (My imagination got a little carried away – I know!)

So early this year, Kirrili busily started designing how the main characters would look and what they would be wearing. She also started researching the details of the setting and started designing a colour scheme.

Soon after this we went on a road trip (I mean research excursion –ha!) to observe plants, settings, buildings and dandelions. There may have been a coffee shop stop or two along the way.

Her pencil sketches were put into a digital mock-up of the book to see how things were coming together. This step usually doesn’t happen but we had the privilege of some extra design input before Kirrili started on the 16 doublespreads.

I can’t speak for Kirrili during the next stage of the process, but I can say I thoroughly enjoyed watching her bring the doublespreads to life. I loved watching the colours, shapes, her style, her persistence, her patience, and her talent as lines became images, images became scenes, and scenes became the story. There was so much magic at this stage. I was lost for words.

Usually the author is not part of this process (sometimes the author and illustrator never even meet). I felt very lucky that I was. And I’m sure Kirrili was a little nervous with me around at times.

The due date for these illustrations was early May. Did she make it? She had been working on them for months, around a busy family schedule, often perfecting them late into the night. But Kirrili made the deadline comfortably and the illustrations were nervously sent away on time ready for professional scanning.

As we are here in this moment, writing and reading this blog, a book designer is putting my text onto Kirrili’s illustrations and professionally designing the layout. Someone somewhere is making more magic happen.

Our book will go to print very soon. I can’t wait to see it go so it can come back all grown up. I suppose it’s like pushing a baby bird out of the nest to see if it will fly.

In October, it will be time to set our book free into the hearts of children and their parents everywhere. This book is personal, a piece of art, and a beautiful story. It will resonate long after everyone has finished reading the words and absorbing its beautiful illustrations.

We can’t wait to blow our ‘dandelion’ apart in a few short months so it can spread everywhere. The launch is in the planning stage. You are all invited!

The next stage will be final editing and then onto marketing. The excitement and anticipation is building. Thanks for letting us share our journey with you.

(Note: images in this post are my photos and not illustrations from the book. Not much longer to wait!)

Monday 25 May 2015

Sydney Writers' Festival Family Fun Day 2015

My son and I caught a train at 6:42am on Sunday morning and headed down to the SWF Family Fun Day.

I couldn't drive as I currently have a broken arm and I didn't want us to miss out so the train sounded like a fun way to enjoy the day together.

First session with Andy Griffiths started at 10am. This was the main reason were we going. Andy is the reason why I now read and enjoy books. He is the reason I write humour and love it even though I don't think I'm that funny. I may have already heard him speak at Sydney, Byron Bay (twice) and Canberra and spoken to him personally on several occasions (plus a few photos), but I just can't get enough of this amazing, talented man. My son was also sick of hearing me talk about him and wanted to see what the fuss was about.


By the time we trained for two and a half hours to Central Station and then made our way to Walsh Bay, the session became booked out.

As we stood in the overflow line, our hearts sinking as we heard a thousand apologies from Andy's publicists, I just couldn't believe it. I was cold, caffeine deprived, tired from a family event the night before, and dumbfounded. I had my son looking at me hoping for a miracle.

Hole in the wall

Soon we were invited to join the front of Andy's signing line as compensation. At least we were in front of all the little mites who did get into that talk and listen to those inspirational words come out of that legend's mouth.

After waiting for an hour we got our moment. Andy asked me how my broken arm was going and how I did it (I told him I feel out of a treehouse). Andy told us Terry finished the illustrations for The 65-Storey Treehouse two days ago and it will be out 12th August.

Aidan and I got our photos and we were happy. Aidan wore his 'Just a stupid T-shirt' t-shirt especially for this photographic moment.  Afterwards we realised he forgot to take his jumper off! (I told you it was cold). It was 11:30am by this stage. It had been 6 hours since the day started for us and all we had done was get to the front of a signing line. But look - so worth it!

After a quick lunch we attended Tashi's 20th Birthday Party (and missed out on birthday cake as there were hundreds of children), a drawing session with Leigh Hobbs (evidence below), and the festival's big backyard before heading home.

Leigh Hobbs
Old Tom
Mr Chicken
We enjoyed crossing over with Tony Flowers, Belinda Murrell, and Serena Geddes in the big backyard.

Later we heard the SWF Family Fun Day was at capacity - and it felt like it was too. Andy signed for over an amazing 5 hours. We left with a pile of new books and experiences to share with others.

signed by Tony Flowers
signed by Andy Griffiths

signed by Serena Geddes
We were glad we made the effort. I got some great ideas for the Newcastle Writers Festival next year. Aidan and I had such a lovely day spending it one-on-one as this doesn't happen as often as we would like. A treasured day for us!