Wednesday, June 30, 2021

A Hero is Born ...

Today!!! It's today!!! Our new picture book Batkiwi is out today!! This book was a lot of fun to write and Isobel Joy Te Aho-White's illustrations capture it all perfectly. Many thanks to Scholastic NZ for doing a Te Reo translation and for making both books such lovely products.

It has everything - action, pathos, humour, heroism and happiness. If you don't believe me you can check out this super duper review on Radio Kidnappers by ace reviewer Lou from Wardini Books.

I had it in my mind for a long time that I wanted to write a story about a kiwi. Its New Zealand's national bird, with so many qualities that reflect New Zealand's own culture and uniqueness. However my mind is a disobedient, feckless thing that generally ignores my wishes and does whatever it feels like. Cue several years of no decent kiwi-centered story coming to mind. Of course once the word batkiwi popped into my head I thought things would change, but cue another few years of no decent kiwi-centered story coming to mind. I guess things were percolating in my subconscious after all though because eventually an idea began to take shape and as is usually the case once the heart of the story turned up the body of it quickly followed. It took a while to tweak it all into place. I've talked about it before, but it always bears repeating - patience is a necessary quality for a writer. I work best when I allow the story to develop organically and let the mental engineering take it's time to create a fully functioning story, so here we are. 

Lots of other native fauna insisted I include them in the story and it makes me very happy to see New Zealand's own natural environment reflected in the book. I will be reading the book at St Helier's Community Library on July 17th at 10am and there will be books available for purchase and signing if you are in that neck of the woods. I will also be doing a giveaway of a signed copy soon on this blog, so keep an eye out.

I hope young readers take heart from the book and the layers of ideas get discovered anew everytime the book is opened. Fly high little Batkiwi - with love, from one of your creators xxx

Saturday, June 5, 2021

And the winner is ...

Tarantara!! The competition has closed and I have selected a winner. Clare Scott will receive a signed copy of My Elephant is Blue. It would be very cool to have the book in Te Reo! You weren't the only one to suggest this but you got in first with this most excellent idea. 

The book is launched, and has bravely gone forth into the world. It's a scary time for an author - I've talked about the book, reviewers have talked about the book (you can see some at Poetry Box here, at My Best Friends Are Books here and at What Book Next here) and now it's over to the readers and the book buyers. While our little book meet the moment and be embraced? 

Soon I'll be talking a bit more about my next book, Batkiwi (Scholastic NZ), illustrated by Izzy Joy Te Aho-White. This book is out July 1st and is a bit of a love letter to our native fauna and flora. I've always wanted to write a kiwi story and I'm thrilled Scholastic are publishing this. The illustrations are lush and beautiful and cute as anything. 

Being a writer is quite the roller coaster ride both in terms of the ups and downs of the faith you have in your own writing and the feast and famine of being published. I've had more than twenty years of this wild ride and I have not yet found any means of flattening the journey out. Right now I am in the unusual position of having three books out this year and it is quite the whirlwind with a touch of overwhelm. When you send things out you never know how it's going to go. One book was delayed from 2020 to this year, and I just wasn't expecting things to be so swift with the other two so here we are. And I'm so proud of all of them. I love writing picture books - there is so much poetry and refining and crafting involved - a balancing act to find the right ratios of word play, meaning and story, knowing all the while that ultimately illustrations will share the job of telling. I feel sad when picture books are dismissed or trivialised - I put so much into them and I know the illustrators do too. It is all too easy to forget that picture books contribute mightily to kick starting the career of a reader. That's where my love of reading began ...

I've had a bunch of questions running round my head recently ... and I am thinking about these as the basis of some future blog discussions. If you want to hear more about any of these let me know.

1) Is it problematic for children's writers to have adult opinions on social media? Is there a line that shouldn't be crossed?  

2) Are twitter book pitching opportunities evolving in to a less functional creature? (sub question - is writer twitter good or bad for us?) 

3) Do we influence boys' reading choices right from the get-go in unconscious ways? (Are we part of the problem?)

And if you have any questions you want me to add to the list please comment below.