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.
I'm not quite sure how it happened, but after creating just one children's book I am now rubbing shoulders with people like FIFI COLSTON and ROBYN BELTON OMG.
I can't even say I have impostor syndrome, because in this situation I really am an impostor! However, I did take the card of a lovely woman, Rachel McCoubrey, who has made some gorgeous books and who gives water-colour lessons. Perhaps with a few lessons, a bit of practice and some hard work there might be hope for me yet.
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
- As a kid David copied Leonardo da Vinci's drawings.
- Later, he created models of animals, and this gave him a different way to think about illustration.
- David says setting parameters for yourself can be useful - "give yourself a job".
- Bonus fact - I live in the same suburb as David and can see his pōhutukawa tree from my kitchen window. His pōhutukawa always flowers before ours does!
Different routes to market
We heard from a range of authors and publishers.
- It can be cheaper to reprint than to hold stock
- Read Publishers Weekly
- Read Lani Wendt Young's Book Council lecture
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.
- Writing early readers can help you get a foot in the door of the children's writing world
- You can turn your story into a readers theatre play
- You can create teaching resources to accompany your book
- You can do 3D modelling in Daz Studio
- There were also some amusing anecdotes about what not to include for American audiences (stay away from pink jelly)
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.
- "Always set your novel somewhere you want to go on holiday"
- Visit the places you are writing about - for atmosphere, a sense of geography, and to see if there are squirrels
- Use music as an inspirational tool
- Putting facts in YA stories is like putting carrot in a carrot cake
- What are your deep stories - the stories that you are drawn to tell?
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.