Today, children’s author Julie Murphy (no relation) drops in to give her seven answers to seven questions. Thanks for coming, Julie.
1. Tell us a little about your publication credits. If you have none, tell us about the genres you prefer to write, and your current projects.
Before I became a full-time freelance writer, I was first a zoologist and then a zoo keeper. My very early publications therefore consisted of scientific articles. There was a persistent urge to write more creatively, though, so I gradually cut back on my paid work hours to branch out into writing popular articles for both children and adults. Some of these were even published in magazines, such as Pets ‘n People (which has since gone the way of the dinosaurs) and International WellBeing.
Everything stopped when I had a baby five years ago. Since then I have gradually been building up my writing work again. Now my focus is (probably quite understandably) fixed on writing for children. I love trying all sorts of genres for children. I have been fortunate to have published some articles, verse and assorted bits and pieces such as an e-book and a husbandry manual for children who want to keep stick insects in their classroom. I have a regular column about ‘Animals and Nature’ in Cherububble – an Aussie made e-magazine for children aged 4-8.
My first book was with Blake Education’s non fiction ‘Health and Understanding’ series . Since then, I have written books for a ‘Weird, Wild and Wonderful’ animal series for junior primary students. They are due out through Aussie School Books (but distributed by Blake) around November this year. I am still working on cracking the Trade picture book market.
2. How long have you been writing for children?
At least ten years. I remember writing a picture story book manuscript for an English project in year 7. Does that count?
3. How much time do you spend each week writing and/or revising? And how much time on other writing-related tasks such as promotion, researching markets and so on?
It varies from day to day. When my daughter goes to kinder I manage a couple more hours. When she doesn’t, it ranges from 1 to 2 hours per day. That is the total time I spend on all writing related work, which includes emails, query letters and manuscript revisions. The time-consuming but essential need for researching markets cuts into my actual time spent writing. But it’s worth it – it saves time in the long run because manuscripts aren’t sent off to inappropriate publishers.
4. How much time do you spend reading children’s books? And what are you reading right now?
Lots. Reading to my daughter is a great way to encourage her appreciation of books and develop her literacy skills, while teaching me about the art of writing picture books. We read together every day. My favourite of this week’s library books is Squeezy cuddle dangly legs by Peter Whitfield and Jacqui Grantford, 2007, New Frontier Publishing.
5. What advice would you give other would-be children’s writers, or share with other professional children’s writers?
I’m always a little embarrassed by this question, as I still have so much to learn. But having said that, I think the most important thing is to write and enjoy the process, instead of impatiently seeking an outcome. It is so important just to get those words down on paper (or screen) and not be too critical about the first draft. Then revise, revise, revise.
6. What is your favourite online resource for children’s writers? Why?
I have a few favourites –
http://www.scbwiaustralia.org/ – lots of useful info for aspiring writers
http://www.aussiereviews.com – keeps me in touch with new books, and presents the views of fellow writers
http://www.publishersweekly.com – helps me learn about the industry in the United States
http://vsgrenier.com/default.aspx – lots of useful info about writing for children
7. Do you have a website or blog? What else do you do to promote your published works and/or your writing skills?
My website is http://members.optusnet.com.au/~julieamurphy/
Thanks for dropping by, Julie. If YOU would like to be featured here with your seven answers, drop me a line at sally @ sallymurphy.net (remove the spaces). I would love to hear from you.