What could be more fun than playing tag? You don’t have to answer that if you were/are one of those children who wasn’t very good at chasey type games. Fortunately, the kind of tag I’m talking involves authors sitting at their computers tagging each other to tell the world just a little bit more about themselves.
So, I’ve been tagged by the lovely Kaz Delaney to answer four questions and, in a few moments I’ll do that, then tag three other authors who’ll have their turn next Monday.
First, though, I’d like to thank the delightful Kaz for dobbing me in – oops, I mean tagging me. Kaz is a prolific author – she and her alter ego, Kerri Lane have published 69 books between them. Kaz’s latest title ‘Almost Dead’ (Allen & Unwin ) was released in January.
Her preceding novel ‘Dead, Actually,’ won the ARRA Award for Favourite Paranormal for 2012, and the Aurealis Award for Best Young Adult Novel for 2012, and was long listed for a Davitt Award in the children’s/YA section. Kaz divides her time between teaching and writing but tries to fit in her new passion – kayaking! You can visit Kaz online here.
Now, it’s my turn. I have to answer the same four questions as Kaz did. I hope I can do them half as well as she did. Here goes!
Q1: What am I working on?
A few things, actually, at varying stages of completion. Firstly, I’m working on a historical novel for upper primary aged readers, which I can’t say too much about – but which is due for release next year. I’ve written historical picture books and reading books, but this longer length is a first for me, and I’m loving the challenge.
Secondly, I have just commenced a PhD in children’s poetry and so I am doing lots of reading about the topic, as well as reading of poetry. A luxury! What I’m finding is that all this reading is inspiring a lot of new poetry, so I’m writing/drafting new poetry every day, which is wonderful. Thirdly, I have a new verse novel coming out later this year (Roses are Blue, to be published by Walker Books Australia) as well as a picture book project with Five Mile Press, so as required I’m working on edits and giving feedback on illustrations and generally just smiling a lot about almost-book-babies.
Is that all? No. I have a little pile of things I’m letting brew, or tinkering with, or…
Q2: How does my work differ from others in its genre?
Umm, it’s got my name on the cover instead of anyone else’s?
But seriously, I like to think that whether I’m writing historical fiction like Meet Mary MacKillop or Do Not Forget Australia, or a verse novel like Pearl Verses the World, or even something fun like Head Hog, that I’m reflecting a little piece of Sally within the story – my own take on life in all its happy, sad, tumultuous wonder. I want to make people laugh, smile, even cry – sometimes at the same time – and be left thinking. Mostly I’m hoping in some small way to make the world a better place.
Q3: Why do I write what I write?
See question 2. And then, I write what I write because stories come to me demanding to be told. I get ideas sometimes that peter out soon after I start writing, or maybe don’t ever make it to the page. The ones that won’t leave me alone, that come with me where I am, that wake me up at night, that make me believe I am that character, those are the stories I write.
Q4: How does my writing process work?
It varies greatly. I’m mostly a panster (as opposed to a plotter) and so don’t usually plan my stories. I usually start with a concept or a character and an idea of where they’ll go. But for picture books this is a bit different as I often work through the early drafts in my head before I write anything down. With longer works, I usually start writing with a general idea of where I want to end up. Along the way, I stop when I’m not sure what’s next, and again let my head do the drafting and figuring. The shower is a great source of brainwaves, as is the beach (there’s a bit of a water theme there, I know).
I like to write whole drafts as quickly possible and then fix them up. I don’t edit or proofread as I go, although again, for longer works, sometimes I will reread to remind myself of where I’ve been so far. One a draft is complete I like to elave it for as long as possible before I start editing, so that I come tot he story with fresh eyes.
Then I rewrite and tweak and rewrite, and leave aside for a while as many times as it takes to get it right. Then i submit and, of course, if its accepted for publication, I often go through all those stages again, with the editor’s input.
When I wrote Do Not Forget Australia I got the idea from a photo I saw of the school at Villers Bretonneux. I did some research then let the idea brew for several months. When I finally wrote the first draft it came out in one sitting. However, I rewrote it and reworked it a heap of times before I submitted. The story has dual narratives – one boy in France and one in Australia. At one point I decided this was too complex, and took them out. When I submitted it to Walker Books they felt it was missing something and suggested I needed a parallel narrative – lol. So back in went Billy, my Aussie boy. Then there were other tweaks and edits and rewrites until the story was ready. About four years from idea to publication, but well worth the wait and I really believe that taking the time to get it right is important, even though along the way I get impatient and want it out in the world NOW.
So, those are my answers. Hopefully I haven’t gone on too much. Now I get to tag three other authors, who’ll answer the same questions next Monday.I can’t wait to read what they have to say for themselves.
Firstly, I’m tagging my friend Robyn Opie Parnel, from South Australia.
When Robyn was fifteen, her English teacher told her, ‘You should be a writer.’ At the time, Robyn hadn’t thought about people writing the books she loved. She only thought about the characters and the stories. After hearing her English teacher’s words, she went home and wrote a novel for children. Robyn’s first children’s books were published in 1999. She is now the author of 90 books for children and adults and 2 feature film screenplays. Robyn is married to writer Rob Parnell and they have a son named Wally (who is rather hairy – woof!). www.robynopie.com
Secondly I’m tagging the beautiful Emily Lim. I was lucky enough to meet Emily last year, and hear her speak. She is amazing. She’s also the award-winning author of several children’s picture books. She is the 1st outside North America to win 3 medals in children’s books at the IPPY awards, the world’s largest book awards and 1st in Southeast Asia to win the Moonbeam Children’s Book Award. She also won the Honourable Mention Award at Writer’s Digest 20th Self Publishing Awards and was on the shortlist for two other awards. Emily’s books have been published in Singapore, Malaysia, China and Korea and also turned into animation, theatre and are also used in the schools. Emily was named Singapore Woman Award Honoree 2013 for inspiring readers through her children’s books and her memoir Finding My Voice, based on her journey of losing her voice to a disorder and finding it again through writing. You can read more about Emily’s books at http://mummumstheword.wordpress.com/
Lastly, I’m tagging Alison Reynolds.
Alison is a best-selling Melbourne author who does not have a cat, but she is visited by every grey cat in the neighbourhood.
She lives in a creaking old house on top of a hill with her family that includes her heater hogging dog, Molly. Alison has written more than 40 books, including A Year with Marmalade; and The Littlest Bushranger, both illustrated by Heath McKenzie and she also co-authored the choose you own adventure style Ranger in Danger series with real-life ranger, Sean Willmore.
Alison’s brand new books is A NEW FRIEND FOR MARMALADE
This is a story about making new friends.
It’s about accepting people, even when
they do things a little differently from you.
And it all revolves around a special
little cat called Marmalade…
These three lovely ladies will be answering the questions this time next week, so check them out then. In the meantime, have a great week 🙂