I've finished Pet, my manuscript of short stories! Next steps are yet to be determined ... but I'm sure I'll get it out into the world somehow.
In the meantime, I've been getting back into my Bruce the Cat children's book series. I"m working on the second book, Bruce Goes Outside. And in a stroke of perfect timing, I was part of the Wild Imaginings National Children's Writers and Illustrators' Hui this weekend.
Notes from the hui
I co-presented this with the inspirational Fifi. I talked about my early illustration (rock band posters) and how finding a kitten on the footpath changed the course of my writing career. I also talked about my crowdfunding journey. Fifi talked about an extraordinary career that spans illustration, writing, costume design, wearable arts, mascot-making and more! The incredibly talented Fifi lives a courageous and creative life, and I think everyone was uplifted and energised by her talk.
Kate de Goldi in conversation with David Elliot
Different routes to market
We heard from a range of authors and publishers.
Gathering images with Robyn Belton
The incredible Robyn Belton shared her life's work in this extraordinary session. Robyn puts heart, soul and magic into her beautiful images. Robyn is an absolute genius ... and also the nicest person you'll ever meet.
Pathways to imagination
I was a bit late to this session after sticking around after Robyn's session with all her other groupies to get my books signed, but I did turn up in time to hear Kyle Mewburn ask why everyone is trying to climb Mt Everest, when we could be getting pleasantly lost in a forest. Melinda Szymanik then freaked me out by saying that the imagination is a muscle and you have to use it regularly and train yourself to spot ideas. Yikes! I haven't used my imagination for at least a week - it's probably gone soft!
The dinner was wonderful. We heard from several past recipients of The University of Otago College of Education/Creative New Zealand Children's Writer in Residence (try saying that after a few drinks). Professor Tony Ballantyne gave a moving account of what reading, writing and children's literature has meant to him. At the other end of the emotional spectrum, Kyle was hilarious as the MC and should be the MC for everything, ever.
Writing for the classroom
I don't know anything about writing educational books and early readers, so this session with Fifi, Maria Gill and Dame Wendy Pye was really useful for me.
Our journey to publication
With Stacy Gregg and Rachael Craw, chaired by Kate de Goldi. Stacy and Rachael have very different working styles, which made for an interesting session.
Otago gold slam - place and creativity
The final session was a fun session with several Otago authors and illustrators who gave Pecha Kucha-style presentations about place.
All in all - a truly wild and imaginative weekend. A huge thank you to the organisers for an inspirational event.
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:
Thank you so much to everyone who came along to the Auckland book launch for Bruce Finds A Home - and to everyone who helped me organise it. An extra big thank you to the lovely ladies at The Dorothy Butler Book Shop who made the experience so special.
I'm looking forward to the Dunedin book launch this Saturday 17 February at the University Book Shop from 10.30am. All welcome!
There will be TWO book launches for Bruce Finds A Home in February 2018 - one in Auckland and one in Dunedin.
Bruce Finds A Home: Auckland book launch
11am, Sunday 11 February
Dorothy Butler Children's Bookshop
1 Jervois Road, Ponsonby
Join the event on Facebook.
Bruce Finds A Home: Dunedin book launch
10.30am, Saturday 17 February
UBS (University Book Shop)
378 Great King Street, North Dunedin
Join the event on Facebook.
Both events are free, and everyone is welcome to attend.
At both launches, free activities for kids will include colouring-in and face-painting. And of course, copies of the book will be signed and pawtographed.
I hope to see you there!
Dunedin Writers and Readers Festival write-up: Zine Scene, Introduction to Gecko Press, Picturing Words and Wording Pictures, It’s Personal
What a weekend of fan-girling and inspiration! It kicked off at Friday’s Zine Scene where one of my niece’s zines (about a boy trying to hold in a fart) had been shortlisted by Kate De Goldi and Paul Beavis. Although the event was aimed at kids I got heaps out of it too. Paul said, “Work small, work fast and don’t be afraid to throw things out,” and Kate talked about the importance of noting down all those moments you experience and thoughts that come to you and referring back to them for writing ideas later. Paul also told the story of getting Mrs Mo’s Monster published. It took him seven years and involved many, many rejection letters and re-workings. He managed to make this terrifying story funny and inspiring!
Saturday was a glorious Port Chalmers morning, made all the better by Julia Marshall of Gecko Press who gave a talk at Port Chalmers Library. It was wonderful to get better acquainted with Gecko books, which are primarily translations of the best of the world’s non-English books. Julia talked about the difference in tone in tenor of books that come from other countries, including trends towards more ambiguous endings and heavier themes. Julia is a fan of the ‘triple twist’ in a story – neatly illustrated by a deliciously pared-back book about a girl following a line that is being drawn by her older brother. (Gecko is currently running a PledgeMe which you can check out here.)
Then it was into town where I picked up Rants in the Dark by Emily Writes (promptly devoured and already lent to a mum friend) and Can you Tolerate This by Ashleigh Young which I cannot wait to read.
Picturing Words and Wording Pictures featured three writer / illustrators: David Elliot (who happens to live just down the road from me and who was gracious enough to let me visit his studio a while back), Paul Beavis (who had really impressed me at Zine Scene) and Sarah Laing (total goddess). These three giants had some excellent tips to share. Paul talked about 'three' being the magic number. He said you could break almost every spread down into a ‘beginning, middle and end’. He also spoke of the power of using a triangle as a composition device. David said he gets intrigued by characters and keeps drawing them as he develops them. Sometimes the characters hijack his story ideas and he follows them where they want to go. Sarah recommended working in a cinematic style – letting the images tell as much of the story as possible.
Today I went to It’s Personal featuring Adam Dudding, Ashleigh Young, Sarah Laing and Hera Lindsay Bird. Adam said he admired first person journalists and he believes that intimate or quirky details make writing interesting and honest. He also said that divulging some less-than-flattering secrets about yourself can make you feel better about sharing other people’s stories.
Key takeaways for me – keep up the journal work... and consider getting some graphic design training!
Mama mia - I'm going to the Bologna Children's Book Fair!
The Dunedin City of Literature has a stand at the fair and the information sheets about my children's picture book will be on display! I've been head-down finishing the cover of the book over the past week, so the enormity of this opportunity is only just sinking in now.
I won't be at the fair in person (I'll still be in the best town - Port Chalmers - of the best little city - Dunedin - in the world) but it's so exciting to think of my illustrations being in Italy... and possibly even catching the eye of a children's book aficionado while they're there.
This is the evolution of the children's book cover I've been working on over the past week. I hope you like it!
2023 Burns fellow Kathryn van Beek has an MA from Victoria University Wellington - Te Herenga Waka’s International Institute of Modern Letters. She is a winner of the Mindfood Short Story Competition and the Headland Prize. Her collection of short stories, Pet, is available as a podcast, and her work has also appeared in Overland, takahē, Newsroom, and the Sunday Star-Times. She lives in UNESCO City of Literature Ōtepoti Dunedin with her two rescue cats.