Thrilled to hear that Into the Wild has been selected for inclusion in the Kids' Reading Guide - an annual publication featuring 100 of the best children's books handpicked and reviewed by booksellers from across the country. YAY!
Copies of the guide will be made available from booksellers across Australia late October.
Karen, welcome to the blog!
Hey Robert, it’s super cool to be here and be interviewed by you. I have quietly watched your children’s author journey and you are such an inspiration to me. And continue to be.
Let me take this opportunity to thank you for your love and support over the years, Karen. I really appreciate the friendship we've formed along the way. You are not alone on your journey. :-) x
Feathers is your recently release picture book; a beautiful and gentle story about love and loss, and the power of memory. What can you tell us about this title?
A feather in many cultures is a spiritual connection. It’s often said that when you find a feather it’s a sign from a loved one no longer with you. A feather is a symbol of love and protection to many. And when teaching about the wind I would always use feathers and the joy of the chase always remained. There were so many ideas intertwined about feathers but these were the main ones. Love, loss, connection. The whole story is centred around these themes with a boy and a feather.
What do the themes in the story mean to you?
I think, love can have no end and that through memory we can connect to someone even if they are no longer here. This story came from my own heart and experiences. As a parent, I wanted to remain connected to my children no matter what happened. When we’re loved we feel protected and treasured and that connection is something we don’t ever want to lose no matter what. Feathers is a reassurance of love when it’s needed most.
What was the most rewarding part of creating this book?
For me, the book was a healing process and the most rewarding part, is the fact that Feathers can comfort and empower a child when they need it most. Feathers is a conduit for informal dialogue for children on this important topic.
Favourite part of your new book?
I adore the night sky double spread of the boy and his mum surrounded by star constellations. The visuals are a perfect match to the text, they dance and play together beautifully and take my breath away. A picture book is very much a dual creation by the writer and illustrator and this spread exemplifies this.
Tell us about the path to publication for ‘Feathers’.
Feathers has been in the making for well over four and a half years. Yet, I am pleased it has happened now and not earlier. Because, I realise as an author I still have so much more to learn. I have a greater appreciation and understanding of the significance of being published. If Feathers had been rushed it would not have been as stunning a book. I have learnt patience, acceptance and about the magic of picture books. For me, the goal was always about the book being the best it could be. This overrode anything else. Being published by a small publisher has built my knowledge base as an author because you are involved in every step. I have so much more understanding about picture books and the multiple layers of meaning within them.
What were some of your favourite children’s books growing up?
My primary school had no library and my high school had a very poor library. But often, I was given books for my birthday. I also discovered the newsagency and saved my pocket money to buy books and magazines. So here are a few, Little Women, Heidi, The Famous Five and Secret Seven. The Diary of Anne Frank, Go Ask Alice and Came Back to Show You I could Fly showed me the power of voice. I also adored Flowers in the Attic, Bridge to Terabithia and Charlotte’s Web. I’ll stop here before I add anymore.
What’s next for you?
I keep chugging along doing the best I can, trying to improve and grow. Picture books are my passion and they keep calling me to play. I am hoping to explore different areas in picture books. Also, I keep being told I should write middle grade novels. But at the moment that is still sitting quietly within me.
Do you have an online presence?
I do have an online presence on Facebook and Instagram that is building and growing daily. I am lucky, because with Facebook I was able to host an online launch for Feathers. This pushed me out of my comfort zone in a good way. Because there was no possibly of any physical book launch with Covid. A new frontier for me. With Instagram, I write daily quotes for writers and enjoy the work of illustrators. I occasionally jump onto Twitter too. I have been able to connect to all sorts of people who adore children’s books from all over the world and this is wondrous.
Karen was a primary school teacher and has always loved using picture books to brighten children’s lives.
A love of story and teaching children has led Karen to becoming a children’s author. Picture books allow a child to be purely in the moment. Karen believes a school without picture books is not a school at all.
Karen lives on the south coast of New South Wales with her family and little dog Elmo. Being by the sea, with sandy toes and close to nature is what makes Karen happy. She rides her pushbike with Elmo in the basket along the beaches.
Karen can be found writing in local coffee shops or even on scraps of paper or typing some random idea into her phone. She believes kindness is catching just like hugs from picture books.
With the lightness of a feather in the breeze Karen hopes her stories reach and find you.
A shout out to everyone who writes or illustrates.
Who is taking the leap into the unknown.
Who is published.
Who isn’t published … yet.
Who is sending their work out to be critiqued.
Who is submitting their manuscript or portfolio to a publisher for the very first time.
Today, I applaud you for taking the courage.
For having the ability to plunge yourself into foreign waters.
For facing your fears.
For accepting rejection.
For believing in yourself.
It’s not easy. It’s complicated and frustrating.
The road is long and icy and the more icy the road becomes, the more of yourself you will find.
You should be proud.
For I am. :-)
Adam, welcome to the blog!
Thanks Robert! Great to be here, and great to chat with you!
You’re a best-selling children’s author and seasoned school presenter, and recently become a mentor to fellow authors with your newly released short courses. What can you tell us about the courses you offer?
I can tell you SO much … but I will try and be brief. Basically, I have set up Kid’s Book Creator Capital (www.thekbcc.com) as a centre where people can come and get truckloads of info on being, well, a kids book creator! To begin with, I want to help people out with the practical side of things. There are heaps of amazing courses and resources out there on actually creating a book, but what then?
So the first courses I have up look at doing school visits, generating an income from your kid’s books, and then, because I love zombies, a course on how zombies can act as an inspiration to us as people and creators (this one is designed to be for adults and kids).
The courses go into heaps of detail. Basically, I have learned so much over the last 20 years doing over 500 school visits, and actually creating a career out of my books (something a lot of people told me would be impossible). I wanted to take all that knowledge, condense it, and pass it on in a few short hours. I want creators to see it is possible, whatever it is for them, and I wanted to shorten the time it will take for them to get that knowledge.
But the knowledge is just the start. Then it’s up to them to put it into action.
What has been the most rewarding part of creating these courses?
To start with, it was finishing the first one! But also giving back to this awesome community that has given me so much. When I started out, the most amazing people helped me. They passed on advice, supported me, chatted to me about books, everything. And that’s massive. It’s great to learn from people who have been where you are, and who have then got to where you want to be, who have done what you want to do.
You don’t ask someone who’s broke how to make money.
It’s the most incredible community, and to be able to give back to that, to maybe do for others what was done for me, that is a massive thrill.
What has been the most challenging?
Trying to cram everything in. My step-dad always told me to under-promise and over deliver, but I want to over-promise and over-deliver (if that’s actually technically possible!)! So the courses cover everything I have done and know. From every way that I have generated income, pros and cons of the different types of publishing, every way I have gotten a school visit, planning actual visits, and more.
Also the subtitling. It was super fun, but I think I went cross-eyed for a few days there!
What is your personal favourite thing about visiting kids in schools?
Oh man, there is so much! Seeing kids who thought they couldn’t draw do a drawing and getting SO excited and proud. Having teachers almost bring me to tears when they tell me that a kid who never speaks in class had contributed. Signing autographs. Doing readings. Feeling the energy rise in the room, laughing with the kids, creating with the kids, there’s more, but I’ll stop there. It’s all so amazing.
What is your biggest tip for authors wanting to be successful school presenters?
This is a bit of a tricky one, but I will go for this. Be YOU! One of the things that helped me most was seeing other authors present, but that is also very intimidating. I don’t want to do Powerpoint presentations at schools, but I have seen some amazing ones get an incredible response, so thought maybe I should.
Some people speak quietly, some speak loudly, some are funny, some are serious. In the end, watching other authors present is an amazing inspiration, but we shouldn’t compare. The thing kids respond to most is authenticity. You being you. That goes for our creating as well.
Besides, it’s tiring trying to be someone you’re not. SO if you love jumping around and being crazy, do that. If not, well, don’t.
Can you share one of your exciting projects that you’re currently working on?
I sure can! It’s a new course haha. I want to do a course on self-publishing, something I have done for 15 years now, and still do every year. In terms of books, I am working on a series of picture books that is, wait for it, 25 books in haha! With what I have started, it will be at 50 books very soon, and I love it, it’s so much fun to write!
Please tell us where we can find you online.
Sure! I’m at www.adam-wallace-books.com and all the courses are at www.thekbcc.com
I’m also on Facebook at www.facebook.com/adamwallacebooks, and Twitter @wallysbooks and YouTube at www.youtube.com/user/awallace100
Thank you for visiting today, Adam. I really appreciate you sharing your insight, expertise and experience. All the best with your latest venture.
Thanks SO much for having me, Robert, always a pleasure talking to you!
Hi Toni, Welcome to my Time Out Blog.
Patrick White is your latest book for middle grade readers. Why did you decide to research and write about this iconic Australian writer and Nobel Prize winner?
The idea for the book came from a conversation I had with a friend who taught English at tertiary level. She was bemoaning the fact that most of her students, fresh out of high school, had never heard of Australia’s only Nobel Laureate for Literature and that those few who had heard of him had a dismissive attitude towards his work because of Australia’s current postmodern, postcolonial criticism – even though they hadn’t read him. I was saddened that Patrick White is slipping into the past of authors regarded as “another dead white male of settler origins” when he is one of my favourite authors because of his gorgeous literary eloquence, stunning descriptions of the Australian landscape and mastery of characterisation, not to mention that he’s a great story-teller. And, even though middle readers are too young to read his work, I wanted to introduce the name of this icon to them by writing a biography about Patrick White’s interesting life and work. Hopefully the book will act as a reference source for children wanting to know about a great author and perhaps inspire them to read his work later in life because it is doubtful they will study Patrick White at high school.
What was the most rewarding part of this project?
The research and re-reading of some of Patrick White’s great novels and working with the fabulous illustrator, Anastasia Popp. I started by reading David Marr’s “Patrick White. A Life” and then Patrick White’s Autobiography “Flaws in the Glass” before I started to re-read Patrick White’s books – Voss, The Tree of Man, Riders in the Chariot, The Eye of the Storm and others. Always in my mind was the question “What would primary school students be interested in reading about Patrick White?”
Favourite part of your new book?
Page 28 where I discuss Patrick White’s observations of people and how they reacted to different situations, particularly journalists. He took notes on many individuals and used those notes in forming his characters in his later books. He was fascinated by the observation that what some considered the “truth” in a situation, others perceived differently. When Patrick White was an Intelligence Officer in the RAF during World War II, one of his jobs was to brief the press on what was happening on the war front. He complained to the press that they didn’t print the information he gave them, to which they explained that they had to exert their own personalities on their writing. To Patrick White, this idea of “what is the truth” is played out in themes in many of his books.
What was your path to publication?
I sent the Manuscript to every traditional publisher in Australia over the period 2013 to 2016 that accepted this type of work and all the rejection letters basically said what the National Library of Australia’s rejection letter dated 14 March 2013 said: “I did discuss your proposal with the Education section but ultimately we have decided not to proceed with publication because the predicted sales of the book were not sufficient to cover our costs.” So, I thought about it years and because I felt so strongly about this book and because many of the rejection letters had praised the content and quality of the manuscript, I decided to approach the partner-publisher Little Steps Publishing who had previously published two of my Picture Books.
How did you learn about the craft of writing?
Apart from the formal study of literature at university where I learned by analysing the craft of great writers, I have undertaken numerous writing courses and mentorships mainly through Writing NSW at Rozelle, Sydney, and participated in writing workshops and festivals. But, the greatest learning experience has been through participation in a writing group that commenced with a 10-week writing assessment course led by editor Nicola O’Shea at Writing NSW. Three of us from that class – Kerry Rogerson, Judith Flanaghan and I – formed a writing group where we assessed each other’s work via email monthly. And, every few months we’d meet for a “working lunch”, mainly at Bodhi in the city, and sometimes Nicola would come to Sydney to join us. COVID-19 has put a stop to that of course and my own writing now has become more focused on my poetry. But, being a part of a writing group reinforced the discipline required to be a writer and developed my craft and I will be forever grateful to Kerry, Judith and Nicola.
What were some of your favourite children’s books as a child?
Wind in the Willows, Winnie-the-Pooh, The Hobbit, The Tale of Peter Rabbit, The Little Prince, The Story of Ferdinand. As a middle reader, I liked Fantasy and Science Fiction and couldn’t get enough of Ursula K. Le Guin, Isaac Asimov and H.G. Wells’ short stories, and in adolescence D.H. Lawrence and Steinbeck, but I was always reading poetry, and after graduating from nursery rhymes and A.A. Milne, Mary Howitt and Lewis Carroll, I particularly liked, and still do like, Robert Frost.
What’s next for you?
My book on Patrick White is my sixth and probably last book for children. My books for Young Adults have never been published. But, my poetry for adults has been published in anthologies since 2013 and has been commended in many poetry competitions. So, I’ve decided to spend my writing time more productively by focussing on my poetry. Also, I’m going to pull 60 or so of my current best poems together into an anthology called “Emotional Attachments”. It will be in two parts: People and Places. After it’s edited I’m going to send it off to a poetry publisher.
Do you have an online presence?
Yes. My website is www.tonibrisland.com My Twitter account is @toni_brisland and Facebook
Thanks for joining me on my blog today, Toni. I wish you all the very best.
Thank you, Robert, for inviting me as a guest on your blog.
Interview organised as a part of the ‘Patrick White’ book campaign with Books On Tour PR & Marketing.
Excited to hear that Into the Wild is also heading to the USA - Woohoo!
I'm loving the look of this dust jacket.
Can't wait to see it. :-)
My first book jacket – Woohoo!
This is the US edition of Under the Same Sky. 😊
I’ve always admired dust jackets. It's wonderful to see how far this book has travelled in such a short time.
Another wonderful surprise waiting for me in my inbox this morning!
Chinese edition of Under the Same Sky - woohoo!
So happy to see how far and wide this beautiful book has travelled. :-)
This was a pleasant surprise to wake up to.
Thrilled to bits to see the Italian translation of Under the Same Sky – woohoo!!
Thank you to Italian publisher Valentina Edizioni. Looks and sounds beautiful.
Happy dancing the tarantella! Gelato, anyone? 😊
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Here you will find the latest news and updates on my writing and published books.