The next Bruce the Cat book, 'Bruce Goes Outside', coming soon!
I had a really special morning on Saturday reading Bruce Finds A Home to the kids at Blueskin Bay Library. We heard another reading about a lost cat needing to find its home, and some lovely volunteers from Dunedin Cat Rescue came along and talked to kids too. Then the kids coloured in some Bruce colouring sheets. They did a great job of colouring in the sky, with beautiful Dunedin sunrises making quite an appearance, along with a wonderful Matariki star cluster.
I bought a fundraising catnip toy for our cat Jager (Bruce's 'big sister', and also a rescue cat) and she's was absolutely delighted with it.
I was delighted to participate in 'Little Landers Literature' with master illustrator Robyn Belton again this year.
Run by Dunedin UNESCO City of Literature, 'Little Landers Literature' brings our local rugby team - The Highlanders - into schools to read books to the children. My book Bruce Finds A Home and Robyn's book Herbert The Brave Sea Dog were chosen. (When I say Robyn's book ... I mean one of Robyn's SEVENTY books!)
Following on from the sessions with The Highlanders, Robyn and I visited the schools to talk about the process of writing and illustrating.
We visited Brockville, Bradford, Pine Hill, Concord, Carisbrook and Bathgate primary schools. They are all wonderful schools and we were so impressed by the teachers and the students.
Of course most impressive of all was Robyn, who captivated me during each session with the delightful true story of Herbert.
Over the past few days I have really enjoyed creating stories with the children, spending time with Robyn and being so well-supported by the magnificent Dunedin UNESCO City of Literature team.
A writer's life is filled with ups and downs, as my spreadsheet of writing acceptances and rejections attests to. News that the short story collection I'm working on has been rejected, in part because someone thought it was a grab-bag of stories for both adults and children (it's not, and that's not even a thing!) made for a grumpy Saturday morning, but my frown turned upside down later in the day when issue 14 of Headland was released - complete with my short story, Speaking in Tongues. (If you like, you can check it out here. It's just $8 for Kindle, and you don't actually need a Kindle - you can just download the free Kindle app onto your phone, or read it on your computer.)
While I've had some bruising rejections lately, overall 2018 has been a pretty amazing year for me on the writing front. I published my first children's book, Bruce Finds A Home, and I got to visit local primary schools with illustrator Robyn Belton as part of the Little Landers Literature programme (thanks, Dunedin City of Literature!). One of my pieces of flash fiction was published in the Bonsai book, and another appeared on the North and South website. And of course, I had the incredible experience of undertaking the Creative Hub / Earthskin residency at Muriwai. Just writing this paragraph makes me feel incredibly lucky!
Another wonderful experience I had this year was also courtesy of the Headland team. I was invited to read my story Frangipani at Wellington's Litcrawl event as part of the Best Stories: Headland session. It was my first time at Litcrawl, which is an incredible mini literary festival that you should definitely try to get along to next year if you can. From being greeted at the airport by a lovely volunteer holding a sign with my name on it, to being put up in a sweet hotel, to being driven back to the airport by celebrated author and cool dude Brannavan Gnanalingam (whose thought-provoking novel, Sodden Downstream, I had just read) ... the whole experience was magical. The highlight was undoubtedly catching up with the Headland team and with fellow writers Iona Winter and Caoimhe McKeogh, who are all total goddesses, and I'm looking forward to attending Iona's book launch in Dunedin this Friday.
So, what next? Well, I'm still working on the collection of stories (for grown-ups!) and I expect that will take a while to complete. I'm also working on the next Bruce the Cat picture book for children. I changed the pencils I'm using for the illustrations, and we're having a bit of trouble scanning the images, but I'm sure we'll get it resolved one way or another. And I have another project or two simmering away, which I should be able to tell you more about next year.
But in the meantime I'm looking forward to finishing work for the year in a couple of weeks, and to spending long afternoons reading beneath the Pohutukawa tree. I hope you have a relaxing holiday planned too. Thank you so much for your support this year - it means the world to me.
WOW - my book Bruce Finds A Home is going to be part of the Little Landers Literature programme! Along with illustrator Robyn Belton (whose beautiful book The ANZAC Violin is in stores now), I'm going to be teaming up with The Highlanders to bring the joy of reading to Dunedin's children.
Visit the Otago Daily Times website to find out more about Little Landers Literature.
Wow, my children's book Bruce Finds A Home is going to be on The Cafe TV show on Monday 9 April! We pre-recorded the segment today. I got to hang out with Mel Homer and Mike Puru who are both seriously lovely. A huge thanks to my publicist Karen from Lighthouse PR for arranging this opportunity for me.
Hmmm, perhaps I'd better start thinking about the next Bruce book?
Thank you so much to everyone who came to the Dunedin Bruce Finds A Home book launch. I had a fabulous morning getting to know these little creatures, which at the time I thought were cats but upon closer inspection look rather fox-like.
I ran a Kickstarter crowd-funding campaign to help fund the book, and as part of the campaign 73 people donated books to the Animal Rescue Network Dunedin. Today I was proud to deliver the 73 books to the network, and I hope they assist with fundraising.
Bruce Finds A Home is now available in all good New Zealand book shops. You can also buy it online here:
My short fiction has been published in Headland, Hue and Cry, Pot Roast and Aerodrome. I'm an award-winning playwright and zine creator, and my play Indiscretions was published by Playmarket. I have contributed articles and creative non-fiction to The Spinoff, The Sunday Star Times, The NZ Herald and more. I also manage the social media for my cat Bruce, and I wrote and illustrated a children's book, Bruce Finds A Home, based on his exploits.