Ahhh, Science! How do I love thee? Let me count the ways. I became a scientist at the age of four when curiosity reared its head. It was the day my mother killed a chook. My father reckoned its head was still attached by invisible threads. Mum, … Continue reading Curiosity, dead chooks, science and the S.T.E.M. push
That’s like asking how long is a piece of string. There are endless articles written on this genre – most provide very useful hints in your quest to write the genre, and most as useful as a ball of string. Imagine the uses for a ball of string! … Continue reading What makes a winning short story?
When I run writing classes, people often ask for hints on how to become better writers (and so do children – thankfully, for a future of great stories still to come!) These are the essentials I pass on….. Have an active imagination. Always ask, WHAT … Continue reading My Essentials for Being an Author
I’ve settled well in my Fellowship Creative Time Residency in the May Gibbs Children’s Literature Trust‘s gorgeous apartment in Norwood. It’s cosy, roomy and well set up for their chosen Fellows.
I’m here to finish the ‘first’ draft of my current work-in-process, VIVALDI’S ANGEL. It’s progressing well, thankfully! How lucky am I to be able to have this four weeks time to escape into the 18th Century Italian Baroque, to Venice and into the lives of street urchin, Caterina L’Artiglia (the Claw), and that genius, the composer, virtuoso violinist and music teacher, Antonio Vivaldi. Yes, I do play my tiny collection of some of Vivaldi’s 500 concertos to help me on my way.
My main character, 12-year-old, Caterina’s ‘voice’ grows stronger in my brain – I suspect it’s always been there but I wasn’t listening very well. But where did that stray, three-legged black cat come from? I had no intention putting a cat in this story, and yet, there she is. That’s what I love about discovering a story – you never know where it will lead.
I do know the ending though, and much of what is to unfold. That’s because I’m a ‘plotter’, rather than a ‘pantser’ so I have a rough outline that evolves naturally as I follow the desires and ultimate journey of my main character, a feisty, street child who’s cursed with a claw-hand, but blessed with the voice of an angel. Vivaldi also plays his part in this plot.
I also get to be the author-in-residence for Scotch College’s junior school – a lovely place in beautiful surroundings. Started my week today with them, and what a great bunch of kids and librarians they are. Thank you, Fiona and Lucy for preparing my way. It’s going splendidly in their lovely library. Today, I worked with Years 3/4s and Year 6s. Hopefully my throat and voice will hold out until the end of the week – but it’s going to be a great one! Now, back to writing I go.
Thank you to talented and all-round lovely person, author, Julie Fison who has invited me to be part of the My Writing Process Blog Tour. Julie, along with several other well-known children’s authors lives in my suburb in Brisbane, Queensland. Must be something in the water! I write children’s novels, short stories, chapter books, school plays and flash fiction for adults. Okay, so here goes…. my Writing Process
What am I working on?
I usually have several things on the go – like just completing the final edit for new chapter book, The Magic Globe (due out mid-2014), working on my 52,000 word novel, Sweet Adversity, seeing my children’s play, Rosie, hero of Eggstown get published in the Irish kids’ publication, Through the Looking Glass Magazine. I’m also writing an adult flash fiction story a week for my 52-Week Flash Fiction Challenge blog this year. It’s been totally manic, but I love creating these short/short stories around a word theme. This week’s word was ATONE. Tricky, but I’m happy with the result.
My main focus in the first half of 2014 is to complete the final polish of Sweet Adversity – an historical adventure set in the Great Depression in Australia. It’s for 10-13 year olds (and adults who like reading kids’ novels, haha. Yeah, that’s all of us, isn’t it?)
In 2013, this manuscript won a SCBWI International RA/ARA Work of Outstanding Promise award – a generous grant that’s helped me travel to Canberra’s National Library to research the affect of the Great Depression on Australian children.
Sweet Adversity means so much to me – its real-time history flavour; its protagonist, Addie McAlpine, a feisty and talented runaway from an orphanage; her pet galah, Macbeth, a bird with a repertoire of Shakespearean quotes; two twisted adults who’ll do anything in their power to get what they want from Addie, and a quest to the death.
I’ve always loved the language and drama of Shakespeare’s plays – from right back when, as a student, and a troop of Shakespearean actors arrived on a train in my tiny, Queensland outback town. They played The Merchant of Venice. One of them (apparently) was a young Geoffrey Rush. Of course, there are other influences surrounding this work-in-progress. Hope you get to read it in the real one day!
How does my work differ from others of its genre?
I write with a slight literary style (I do love the magic and rhythm of words), but I keep in mind the reader’s enjoyment of the story is what matters in the end. Some say I have a great feel of writing the landscape of my stories – you’ll have to read them to see what that means. I’m also an artist, so landscapes have been significant in my life – sensory observation is second nature now, especially of some places that have left indelible impressions on my mind.
I also like to make my stories a little different – like in Secrets of Eromanga, a junior fiction contemporary novel set on a fossil dig near Winton, Queensland. Every alternate chapter jumps back 350 million years to document the life story of a courageous, young female ornithopod called Wintonopus latomorum.
As I wrote, I became as attached to that gentle dinosaur as I did to Ellie, my human character. And like the kids who read the book, deeply felt Wintonopus’s ultimate demise.
How does your writing process work?
It depends on what I’m writing. I get ideas all the time – sometimes they cellar like a good wine until formed into a story. Other times, those impulses grow silver wings and off they go. Still, I do edit and rewrite MANY times. I’ve submitted manuscripts before they’re ready. But I’m learning to be patient nowadays. I like to start with a plot plan/outline (so I know the ending, sort of), then let my imagination free reign to think laterally.
I love the editing process – that’s when my brain really fires up. Sometimes I end up with a plotline that is nothing like I thought it would be. Very exciting!
I also enjoy being part of the wider world of children’s books – with a two-year stint as a Board Director of The Australian Society of Authors, and as an Assistant Regional Advisor for the Society of Children’s Book Writers and Illustrators in the Australia East/New Zealand region (SCBWI).
Playing a leadership role in our children’s writing world is like adding grease to the squeaky wheel of authorship.
I’ve met people – other authors, illustrators, editors, publishers and librarians – they’ve helped increase my desire to write the best I can, they give me encouragement in those ‘down times’, they help feed my quest for knowledge, and they’re fun to be with – what more could an author ask for?
Coming up soon … an author and an illustrator I know you’ll love to know more about. Names revealed soon!!