The Rabbit's Magician - a sensitive, clever picture book about the laws of nature.
Shae, welcome to the blog!
The Rabbit’s Magician is a heart-aching yet gentle story of loss with uplifting themes of friendship, love, science and magic. Can you briefly tell us about this book?
The Rabbit’s Magician is a gentle story of love, loss and comfort.
The Amazing Albertino and Ziggy the rabbit love travelling the world and performing together. One day, Ziggy wakes to find that his beloved magician has disappeared.
Ziggy waits for him to reappear.
And waits some more.
He worries that something went wrong with the trick. But, perhaps, the Amazing Albertino has performed a different trick, one that could be his greatest ever.
Ziggy’s new friends provide understanding and welcome comfort.
The Rabbit’s Magician is a children’s picture book but offers comfort to anyone of any age who has lost a loved one – person or animal.
How did the idea present itself in your mind?
The story was inspired by The Law of Conservation of Energy – a fundamental law of nature, which states: Energy cannot be created or destroyed, but it can change from one form into another. I had long known of this scientific principle but had more recently come across a speech by Aaron Freeman about why you want a physicist to speak at your funeral. It was so moving, how the science-talk – which is often cold and clinical – was heart-warming.
I never intentionally set out to write a story about loss – this was certainly not a subject I would have chosen to tackle. But an impression must have been made on my subconscious because a scene appeared in my mind of a rabbit looking up at the moon. I sensed he was waiting for something. The moon phases changed, and still, he waited. What are you waiting for? I wondered. And then, he told his tale. In a matter of moments, the whole story suddenly existed, like a neatly wrapped gift. No tackling involved.
Did you collaborate with illustrator Andy Fackrell during the creation of the book? How do you feel his illustrations capture the essence of your story?
Yes. Paul (Collins) put Andy and I in contact from the start, he was happy for us to communicate back-and-forth freely, with him copied in on our emails. So we were able to bounce a lot of ideas around and make good progress. We shared the common goal of wanting the best outcome, so it was never about ‘whose idea was better,’ but rather ‘which idea was best for the project.’
Even though I was in the loop throughout the process, just as The Amazing Albertino surprised and delighted the audience in the story, the amazing Andy surprised and delighted me with each picture. In the opening scenes, the depiction of that darling little rabbit staring up at the moon while his ears droop down captures the sense of waiting and longing. There are some beautiful silhouette moments with the moon as a backdrop that speak of Alby and Ziggy’s close relationship. The spread of Ziggy with the stars, rainbow and flowers has a peaceful ambience in perfect alignment with the words.
How did you find the process of publishing with Ford Street Publishing?
A welcoming, supportive, professional, inclusive, interactive, positive experience! Paul is very knowledgeable and I’ve enjoyed learning more about the publishing industry.
There was a lovely flow that continued on from the ease with which the story came to mind – to then submitting it, signing a contract, having an illustrator come on board who was available to start, communication throughout, to a finished product – it seemed quick! There was a real momentum.
What has been the most rewarding part of creating The Rabbit’s Magician?
There are picture books about loss, but none from this angle that I know of. There’s no intention to oppose anyone’s beliefs. It’s simply another tool to help bring some solace to hearts. It offers a sense of comfort from the viewpoint and solidity of a sound principle of physics. It fosters a gentle shift in thought, from the total emptiness of loss to the presence of a continued energetic connection. Energy cannot be destroyed. Energy cannot die.
I did have some hesitancy in regards to writing a story about the potentially sensitive subject of loss, but because of the blessed way in which the story came into being, I felt it was not only a gift for me but for anyone who needs it.
Favourite part in the book?
At the end, when Ziggy is feeling comforted. He has his eyes closed and he says when the breeze blows against his fur, it feels like Alby’s hand gently stroking him. And he sighs with a peaceful expression.
Which other picture book authors and/or illustrators do you enjoy or gather inspiration from?
The supremo, the magnifico, the fantastico . . . Robert Vescio! Thoughtful, beautiful, valuable stories that just keep coming – so many books – and I’m totally here for it! Mucho inspo!
Dr Seuss – words and pictures, the epitome of fun – this Doc rocks! Mo Willems – gotta love that cheeky pigeon! Philip Bunting – funny! Sophie Beer – bold and playful! Emma Quay – cute! Demelsa Haughton – oh, the whimsy! Megan Hess – Claris books… oh, the elegance! Jo Empson – the style of Jungle Jamboree and Rabbityness! Emily Gravett – Orange, Pear, Apple, Bear – wonderfully simple, simply wonderful! Kim Krans – dreamy kid’s books! And, of course, I’m a fan of the illustrators who have brought my own books to life: Jenni Goodman, Brent Wilson, Andy Fackrell.
Awww! You're very sweet, Shae. Thank you!
What are your top tips for aspiring authors?
You don’t need a pretty notebook, a fancy pen or a planetary alignment – just write! Nike – the Greek goddess of victory – says it best: Just do it!
Ok, now that you’ve started, you’ll need to invest in some bum glue. Think of it as a staple: milk, bread, eggs, toilet paper, bum glue. If you can’t find any at the supermarket, there’s a shop that stocks it on the corner of Motivation Street and Persistence Road. Beware not to take a wrong turn down Procrastination Way. You’ll find it’s simple to use the bum glue: Apply to buttocks regularly until project is complete.
Join a writing group. In-person or online, or even better – both! The kidlit community has to be one of the friendliest, most helpful and inspiring group of gangsters I know! Find your scribe tribe! #ScribeTribe
What’s next for you?
Well, I always have a bunch of ideas for picture book stories floating around, and my long-term work-in-progress is a middle-grade novel which I pick up between projects. I’m also creating a range of t-shirt designs. It’s a bit top secret at the moment, however, I can divulge that some designs are autism-championing and others are especially for writerly folk!
Do you have an online presence?
Thank you for your time today, Shae. I wish you all the very best on your writing journey. You're a joy!
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