Elizabeth, welcome to the blog!
Rain Shaker is your recently release picture book, with a focus on climate change and sustainability. What can you tell us about this title?
The book is a joyous narrative celebrating children’s irrepressible spirit and zest for life, their hopes and belief in what is possible and a relatable story about family life set in the Australian Farm drought context.
What was the most rewarding part of creating this book?
Working with Cheri Hughes again and seeing how she brought my ideas to life through her extraordinary art.
You have also developed a fabulous series on people in the community and their roles in helping others – the Verityville series! What are some of the roles you’ve focused on? Why has this project been so important to you?
I started by writing a story about my dear friend – a hairdresser who worked as a lollipop lady – The Sweetest Lollipop Lady in the World. She was so kind and made such a difference to people’s lives it made me sit up and reflect on my own role in my workplace and how the little things matter.
Then the series grew from there – to The Garbage Guy (about the garbage guy who worked relentlessly to keep the town clean), Mrs T and the Magic Pencil (about a kind teacher who built kids esteem) then it became quite female centric with a narrative on a female lifeguard; Brave and Strong All Day Long; who survived a lifetime of gender bullying and prejudice to fulfill her dreams before I wrote Hair Magic – about the work of a hairdresser and on into the work of women in construction sites with Girl on the Road.
All my characters are based on real people I have met - I like to look at the roles and jobs that are often taken for granted or looked down upon and represent these in a new way to encourage my readers to think about life from someone else’s point of view. It matters you know – how we treat people and our society is only as good as those who support it. Without people cleaning our bins and teaching our children our health would be threatened and our future would be bleak.
Everyone is equal and everyone deserves respect and my books are a little note of personal gratitude to those who make my life better in many ways on a daily basis without me even realising for the most part. Just wait till you read Rules for a Reason coming out next year about a parking ranger!
You have taken different paths to publication with your books. How have these differed between titles, and why did you choose these particular routes?
Okay, well I started with indie publishing in 2015 with a picture book on eating disorders (The Disappearing Sister) – At the time I believed that this route was best suited to the niche and difficult topic and that thanks to my lived experience I had the necessary expert knowledge to write this and connect the title with those who needed to read it. My purpose was not commercially focused – rather came from wanting to help other families navigate the difficult territory of talking about this tough topic with young children. Maybe now in 2020, I might feel differently about this but I think it was the right decision. Then my Verityville series developed independently as it was initially intended for a local audience – it has grown beyond that now but I still enjoy the indie process.
My collaborative work with Bronte Goodieson (Dinner on the Doorstep) and Melissa Salvarani (Seed Balls, The Very Bad Thing, Ocean Devotion and Amazing Hands) have come from me wanting to explore my role as an independent publisher and I am keen to engage with more creators to further develop my skills and reach in this area. I am working with a British writer and researcher on a chapter book and with a Lithuanian graduate on a poetry project – they are a little way off but I am enjoying the growth and professional development I am gaining through doing this.
My commercially published work has been with Big Sky Publishing to date and I really respect them as an independent and growing publisher in the Australian market – they are very strong in stories of the heart and narratives that help people grow and learn about themselves and the world and I am loving the opportunity to contribute to their profile.
How did you learn about the craft of writing?
By reading! I am an avid bookworm!
What were some of your favourite children’s books growing up?
Richard Scarry, Winnie the Pooh, The Worst Witch, Narnia Series, Graphic novels like Tintin and Asterix, The Little White Horse, The Secret Garden, Anything by Judy Blume
What’s next for you?
Indies projects: A new Verityville book on The New Heroes in Town – Jobs in Covid times. A couple of concept books. Editing a YA novel. Working with Big Sky Publishing on some exciting new secret projects!
Do you have an online presence?
Yes – elizabethmarycummings.com also FB: Elizabeth Mary Cummings and Instagram: @Verityville
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Welcome to my blog page!
Here you will find the latest news and updates on my writing and published books.