October has whizzed by in a flash, and I’ve had the pleasure of doing some amazing things and meeting some amazing people this month. As Halloween is creeping up to the doorstep of this blogpost, I thought I'd start with that first.
I was thrilled to be invited as a guest onto Brydie Wright’s radio show on Radio Northern Beaches, By the Book, this month. You will have heard me speak about her show before, and this month, her theme was Halloween, highlighting a few kids books perfect for reading at this time of year – including… The Scared Book! So I got to speak about my book, and about fear in picture books in general, as well as the Northern Beaches Young Writer’s Comp that I judged earlier in the year, my latest story in A Christmas Cornucopia, and, of course, Storyhound Archie. Brydie has even managed a podcast of her interview! You can find it and listen here! Thanks so much, Brydie!
You can catch up on some past interviews, like the one with Paul and Beth MacDonald that I mentioned last month, and one with my friend, Shelly Unwin, here.
And now I’ll hop from one book to another! I was totally overwhelmed this month, when I met up with a remarkable young person at a book launch (more on the launch later) who had used my picture book, When I See Grandma, as a mentor text to make her own book. Not only that, she has since gone on to remarkable writing success. I was so impressed, I had to ask her for an interview! So, I'd like to introduce you to a young person that I'm sure we’re going to be seeing a lot more of… Chelsea McInerney.
Interview with Chelsea McInerney
Chelsea, it was lovely meeting you the other day and hearing how my picture book, When I See Grandma inspired you to write your own version of the story. What was it about my story that captured your imagination?
I loved When I See Grandma so much! I have a soft spot for sentimental, emotional stories… I found your book very moving and the girl very caring. I liked reading about the loving relationship between the girl and her grandmother. And then I just kept on writing!
That’s just so beautiful to hear. I may just have wiped a tear off my keyboard! What was your book about? Can you share a few lines with us? And a photo of you with the book?
I was 9 when I wrote it, (I’m 11 now) and I totally copied your idea! My book is about a girl who visits her very sick mother in hospital. Her mother doesn’t have dementia or Alzheimer’s but the girl still brings her different items that she loves, to make her mum feel better.
That is so adorable, and I'm so flattered! I love how you’ve copied the style and made it your own as well. Brilliant! I feel so honoured. And I also love your added extra in the code! My book has something similar - all the flowers on the cover are found somewhere in the illustrations - you have to look hard to find some!
So not only have you written your own take on my book, now I hear you’ve co-authored a story with your mum, published in Funny Bones (Allen and Unwin) alongside some other pretty impressive authors! That’s so amazing! I’m so jealous! How did that come about?
Thanks! Well, every night, I write in my journal before bed. I mainly like writing adventure with heart in my fiction writing, but I usually write funny stories about my real, day-to-day life in my journal. I just choose one thing that happened that day to write about. Mum read one of my stories and asked me if I’d like to offer it to the Funny Bones anthology that she had just volunteered a story for, and I thought that would be awesome, so she edited it and they accepted it!
That is incredible! What can you tell us about the story?
Well, it’s called The Pits, and it’s a funny story about the horror that unfolded when mum decided it would be a good idea to try using an all-natural deodorant. It’s a true story. Unfortunately.
Ha ha –I love the way you just told that - I’m laughing already! I can’t wait to read it.
I wonder when you discovered the joy of writing, and do you write a lot?
When I was 6, I loved this anime-style cartoon called The Legend of Korra so much that I started writing my own book of other episodes they could make. (So writing and illustrating more stories using those characters.) Then I wrote a bunch of funny little stories based on literal interpretations of sayings. Now I write every night, at my desk, before I read in bed. I’ve got a few journals worth of little stories now!
I think that sort of writing with characters from an established book has a name – Fan Fiction: it’s a thing! That’s wonderful that you write every night – it’s clearly paying off! Do you have any special tips for other writers who want to take their writing to the next level? (Apart from all reading When I See Grandma, of course ;-) )
I don’t really have any tips. Just write about whatever you want to write about. And read whatever you want to read.
I think also, from what you’ve said – write a lot! Thanks Chelsea. I'm sure you're an inspiration to other writers out there! (Chelsea’s mum is children’s author Amelia McInerney, who I interviewed on the Just Write For Kids blog, here.)
Talking about Just Write for Kids, I hope you’re following along with my interview with the delightful Kiah Thomas. You can find October’s instalment here. And I’m so excited to discover that Just Write For Kids has been ranked 14th for the best Aussie book blogs by Feedspot. See the list here.
Also on JWFK, I just finished judging the picture book Pitch It Competition entries, with Kellie Byrnes. It was a tough field of entries! You can find the longlist up now here. Congratulations to those that made the list!
And now for the book launch I alluded to earlier…
It was a joy to attend the launch of picture book Tulip and Brutus, written by one-third of the One More Page Podcast crew – Liz Ledden, and illustrated by Andrew Plant, published by Ford Street. This launch at Berkelouw Books, Leichardt, was such a treat! Podcast co-hosts Kate Simpson and Nat Amoore sang an hilarious rendition of I got you, Bug, to the tune (I use the word loosely 😉) of I Got You, Babe. If you’re on Instagram, you can see a video snippet of them singing, on my Insta page @debra_tidball. Liz also had a ‘spin the wheel’ challenge – with the choice of winning either a chocolate bug-lolly or a real-life crunchy bug! The kids seemed equally pleased to be munching both – num num num! I can safely say, I’ve never seen that at a book launch before!
It was their own take of the Halloween video the One More Page Podcast crew made with my book a while ago – do you remember this one?
Also on my radar… (Photo below right. Clockwise from top left):
Author/illustrator, Belinda Landsberry, showed me her newest picture book, Once I was Loved. It reminds me of the classic The Velveteen Rabbit. Read with tissues. It is divine.
Storyhound Archie was sent the delightful picture book, Miss Eliza FLowerdew Can Nearly Touch the Ceiling, to review, and I can’t help from yapping about it too. I love the way Brenda Gurr had captured the child’s view of the world, and the physical perspective the illustrator, Helene Magisson’s beautiful, soft and flowy pictures add to the feel. A story that very naturally and sweetly shows the blossoming friendship between a child and 99 year old Miss Flowerdew because of a child’s natural curiosity. It is sublime.
My old writing buddy, Stephanie Ward’s picture book, Arabella and the Magic Pencil, is a magical, effervescent story with luscious language, whimsical illustrations and a strong emotional resonance that will surprise and delight young readers, and will especially appeal to older siblings. It's a must!
I won the junior fiction, Max Booth, Future Sleuth: Film Flip, by Cameron Macintosh and Dave Atze, in a Books on Tour give away and I’m keen to read it – it sounds like a fun, futuristic adventure, trying to work out 'historical' items, like a roll of film!
I was thrilled to see that my favourite YA book for the year, The Things That Will Not Stand by Michael Gerard Bauer, won the Prime Minister’s literary awards! Congratulations Michael!
Competitions: I mentioned last month that I’d entered a few writing competitions, and then I found this list put together by Stef Gemmill, that gave me a few more places to submit. You might find it handy too. Thanks Stef!
In other news... To celebrate our 30th wedding anniversary, my husband and I did something special and went to the Opera, and saw Il Viaggio e Reims. It was the most remarkable, wonderful show I have ever seen. Everything from the set and costumes to the music and the quirky, silly, storyline were amazing. It had this fabulous metafictional aspect that really appealed to me. It was funny. It was sublime. I laughed. I cried. It was the most special, marvellous night.
What I’m looking forward to…
1. Having a holiday :-) and then coming back to…
2. CBCA Northern Sydney sub-branch end of year drinks/dinner at Terry Hills Tavern on the 27th Nov.
3. CBCA NSW Aspire and celebrate! Evening at the NSW Teacher’s Federation, on the 28th Nov.
4. Some SCBWI Sydney cheer, at Woollahra library on the 8th Dec.
5. Presenting an award at Brookvale Public school’s K-2 presentation day.
That’s about all for my month in KidLitLand. Don’t forget, if you want to keep up with all my adventures, you can subscribe to my newsletter and get all a link to every post in your email!
Subscribe here. I'll leave you with the posts with the most engagement on Archie's @story_hound's insta account.
Until next time...