Welcome to my Time Out Blog, Ashling. I’m looking forward to finding out more about your latest release Lola and Grandpa.
Every Sunday Lola visits her Grandpa. They spend the day examining the universe and teaching each other about the world. But one day, Grandpa isn’t there anymore. Lola struggles to deal with the loss. But as time goes by Lola realises that her Grandpa will always be with her - in her heart and in the memories they made. A beautiful and reassuring story of love, loss, and the value of memories.
1. Lola and Grandpa is your debut picture book. Where did the idea come from?
The idea for the story came from the standing at my parent’s kitchen window watching my dad and daughter stroll around his garden. They would examine everything around them and talk about the meaning of life. Then my dad would lift my daughter up into his arms so she could touch the sunflowers and cuddle him tight. Seeing this reminded me of my childhood and the special moments I shared with my dad. It also made me think about how heartbroken we would all be if he was no longer with us.
2. What was the most rewarding part of this project?
Every single part of this project was rewarding. It only took me a few weeks to write this book because the words poured from my heart. Being able to hand my dad a copy of my book has been a highlight of my life, and he is overwhelmed to know how much he is loved.
3. Favourite part of your new book?
The fact that I get to show my dad how much I love him in a very unique and special way. My dad is a selfless, wonderful man – and this is my gift to him.
4. What was your path to publication?
When I was writing Lola and Grandpa a few people said that I shouldn’t let Grandpa die as it was too confronting for children. But I was adamant that Grandpa died as I’ve always believed that children need to be made aware of real life situations so they can build resilience and learn to appreciate the good things in life.
With this in mind, I knew that I needed to find a publisher that was brave enough to take on Lola and Grandpa…and that’s where Little Pink Dog Books came in. I sent my manuscript to LPDB in late 2017 and was offered a contract in early 2018. Working with LPDB has been a wonderful experience and I am eternally grateful to Peter and Kathy for their support.
5. How did you learn about the craft of writing?
I did a weekend course at the Sydney Writer’s Centre with Aleesah Darlison many years ago. It was fantastic and taught me some valuable lessons. Other than that I’ve spent endless hours reading online blogs and picture books by authors that I admire. I also write as much as I can – every day if possible - as I truly believe that the more you practice, the better you get.
6. What’s next for you?
Lola and Grandpa is my debut picture book. It will be officially released on May 5, 2020. My other upcoming books include:
7. Do you have an online presence?
Thank you for your time, Ashling. I wish you every success in your writing journey.
Ashling Kwok is a freelance journalist and children’s author who is obsessed with words. When she’s not dreaming up new ideas or working on her latest manuscript, Ashling can be found scouring local bookstores, marvelling at all the wonderful books being created by talented children’s authors. Ashling lives in Sydney with her husband, two children, and energetic border collie, Jed.
Title: Lola and Grandpa
Author: Ashling Kwok
Illustrator: Yvonne Low
Publisher: Little Pink Dog Books
Publication date: May 2020
Audience age: 5-10
Who do you trust when those you love most let you down?
Welcome to my Time Out Blog, Teena.
Thanks for inviting me, Robert. It’s always a pleasure to chat about writing, especially with a fellow author.
1. Please tell us a bit about your fictional debut YA novel, Monelli & Me.
It’s a story about family relationships that explores what happens when 15-year-old Kate learns her mother has been keeping a secret. Kate has grown up unaware that the man she calls Dad is not her biological father. A phone call brings the lie to light and she is launched on a rollercoaster of emotion as she struggles to come to terms with the fact those she loves most in the world have been less than honest with her. To complicate matters, her biological father, Nick Monelli, is coming to Perth. He wants to take Kate back to Brisbane with him to get to know her grandmother who is seriously ill with cancer. Essentially it’s about the consequences of being dishonest, even if it is by omission. One of the books earlier titles - it has had a few! - was Half Truths and Consequences.
2. What was the inspiration behind this story? Is any of it based on reality?
Monelli & Me isn’t based on reality. I came up with the original idea more than 20 years ago when my older daughter was a teenager. She and her cousin had joined the local theatre group and I wrote it as a play with them in mind for the lead roles. I chose to write about a teenage girl who discovered a secret about her past because it offered lots of scope for drama. Family has always been really important to me and I was fascinated by my Italian/English heritage from an early age. My father and I were always close. He was patient, gentle and incredibly insightful and I imagined how I would feel if I discovered he wasn’t my biological father and I didn’t have the cultural heritage on which I based my sense of identity. Incidentally, the play was never produced because I had such scant knowledge of stagecraft. Time passed, I took another look at it and I decided I wanted to reimagine it as a YA novel.
3. What was the process like in getting it published?
As with most of my published titles, not easy! I entered the manuscript unsuccessfully in a couple of competitions and submitted it to a few publishers over the years. While I received some lovely comments no contracts were forthcoming. About 18 months ago I started releasing some of my own titles while waiting for new manuscripts to do the rounds of traditional publishers. Monelli & Me had been through a comprehensive process of critiques and rewrites so I opted to self-publish. I love the process of making books and after nearly half a century of writing, I’m not short of manuscripts.
4. What were some of your favourite children’s and YA books as a child?
Magic, mystery and adventure. Biographies about famous people. Books about ancient civilisations and how people lived in the past. From books I found out about photography and film making and the history of dance. A few of my favourite authors at that time were Enid Blyton, E Nesbitt and Elizabeth Goudge. At home we had a full set of the Richards Topical Encyclopaedia and I was fascinated by all the information in those.
I used to hide away in the car when it was parked in the driveway and read because Mum couldn't find me there to do jobs around the house. When Dad went to work on the weekend to check on the leather at the tannery, I went with him so I could sit outside in the car and read. I don’t think there was such a genre as YA when I was a teenager. Favourite authors at that time were John Wyndham, Thomas Hardy. I also read Charles Dickens and Victor Hugo.
5. What’s on the horizon for you next?
I have two new picture books scheduled for release later this year. Solo Dan is in production with Daisy Lane Publishing. It’s about a boy who wants a forever home and is being illustrated by Kym Langfield. Looking After Grandma has been picked up by Serenity Press and will be illustrated by Amy Calautti, who did such wonderful work on my picture book When the Moon is a Smile.
I recently completed a MG novel that will soon start doing the submission rounds and I’m working on another that I plan to complete by mid-year. In non-kidslit, I am working on a couple of romantic novellas and I’ve given myself a December deadline. Wish me luck!
6. Where can people get in touch with you?
There’s lots of information about me and my books on my website at www.teenaraffamulligan.com
I’m also on Facebook at https://www.facebook.com/TeenaRaffaMulligan
Title Listing Information
ISBN 13: 978-0-6485346-0-0
Retail Price: $19.99 incl. GST
Size/Pages : 8in x 5in / 166 pages
Publication Date: 31 March 2020
Author: Teena Raffa-Mulligan
Distributor: Novella Distribution email@example.com
Also available from: Online retailers
Sea Song Publications firstname.lastname@example.org
Teena Raffa-Mulligan is a reader, writer and daydream believer who can’t imagine a world without stories. Her many publications for children include poetry, short stories, picture books, chapter books and MG novels. Since retiring from journalism, she also occasionally flirts with romance. Teena shares her passion for books and writing by presenting talks and workshops to encourage people of all ages to write their own stories. She shares her home near the beach with a sometime surfer and a gorgeous Labrador with a toast obsession and anxiety issues.
Honoured to hear that Under the Same Sky will be read on the hugely popular UK children’s show CBeebies as a bedtime story.
An A-lister takes on bedtime reading duties on CBeebies each night. Excited!
Bigger Than Yesterday, Smaller Than Tomorrow has been licensed to a major publisher in China. They will be printing this beautiful book for English-language distribution in Mainland China. Woohoo!
Thrilled to announce that The Voyage has been selected for the 2020 Notable Social Studies Trade Books for Young People!
Truly grateful to Anouska Jones - Writer, EK Books and Andrea Edmonds for producing such a beautiful book.
Great to see this book reaching so many people.
I was interviewed on the radio by Brad Aldridge from FIVEAA Talking Adelaide in South Australia chatting about my latest picture book The Voyage. I'd like to thank Brad and Liz for their support. Listen here.
I have awesome news!
I am now represented by literary agent Sarah McKenzie. Cue the celebratory dance.
I am super excited to be working with Sarah. She’ll be focusing on my picture books and I’m so thankful to Sarah for her dedication, support and guidance.
I have been querying agents for a year now. I thought I’d never land an agent and believed it would never happen. Yet I kept pushing and kept writing. And then it finally happened.
Securing an agent is not easy. It takes a lot of hard work. But I was thrilled when Sarah’s offer to represent me arrived in my inbox. Sarah loved my story. Her exact words were, ‘I am rather taken by it!’ This was music to my ears. I decided to wait to announce the news until I had time to write a post about it. And, here it is!
When approaching an agent, make sure your work is the best it can be – a great story that has the ability to invite the reader to be part of the journey. The ingredients to shape a great story can be like cooking your favourite recipe – a pinch of wonder, a dash of surprise and a drop of sweat. If you are passionate about something it will show in your work and come to life.
To sum up, I had queried agents for picture books for the past year before receiving an offer. I still can’t believe it’s real. Persistence is key.
Without persistence, I would not have kept writing and submitting my work to publishers. Securing a literary agent is a huge turning point. And I’m looking forward to my next adventure.
So, open your heart. Let your words spill out. And tell your story that only YOU can tell.
I recently had the opportunity to interview Cameron Macintosh about his latest middle grade release Max Booth Future Sleuth Film Flip.
A fun-filled adventure series about a boy and his robo-dog sidekick that sees Max and Oscar in all sorts of strife.
Welcome to my Time Out Blog, Cameron.
Thanks so much for having me, Robert. I’ve watched your publication pile stack up with much admiration! Huge congrats! Keep them coming J
That’s really kind of you to say, Cameron. I send you my warmest congratulations on your success, as well.
1. Tell us about Max Booth Film Flip.
Film Flip is the latest adventure for 11-year-old Max, a street kid in the year 2424 who makes a humble living by identifying strange old artefacts for the city museum – artefacts that most present-day readers would recognise, but that are long-forgotten in the 25th century. Max’s investigations always lead him into trouble, but with help from his robo-dog sidekick, Oscar, he has a knack of sleuthing his way to success. In Film Flip, Max and Oscar help to identify a photographic film reel from the year 2006. Max knows it belongs in the museum, but some greedy adults they encounter along the way realise its value and have other plans for it…
2. How did you come up with the idea for the Max Booth series?
The initial inspiration struck on a visit to Pompeii, and the Archaeological Museum in Naples, where you can see all sorts of everyday artefacts that would have been used by the people who lost their lives in the catastrophic eruption in 79 CE. The more mundane the items, the more interesting I found them – mostly due to the fact that these precious artefacts (such as combs and cutlery) would barely have rated a second glance back then. It all made me wonder if people in the future will be as interested in the everyday items we take for granted now. This thought sparked the idea of a future detective, with a special interest in these items… and along came Max! So far he’s investigated a 1980s cassette tape, a 2017 mobile phone and a 2019 postage stamp.
3. How many books are planned for this series? Did you plot these out from the beginning, or did they develop more spontaneously?
At the moment we’re looking at six titles. Film Flip is number 4. Number 5 has been written and number 6 is currently a mess of paper on my desk!
When I pitched the first story (Tape Escape), I did include brief synopses of another five or six stories, just to show that the characters and their interests had potential to be taken on further adventures. But they were just sketches, really – the main plotting has happened as I’ve looked at each new story individually.
4. What were some of your favourite children’s books as a child?
I was a big fan of Judy Blume’s Fudge series, as well as The Secret Seven, and anything by Dr Seuss. But there were two books that I read and reread more than any others – Boy by Roald Dahl, and Under Plum Lake by Lionel Davidson.
5. What’s on the horizon for you next?
As I mentioned earlier, I’m currently finishing off book 6 in the series (Max’s encounter with a long-lost GPS navigation unit!). After that, I’m hoping to get back to redrafting a YA novel and a grown-up book – both of which have been gathering dust in the cupboard for too long. I also do a lot of writing for the educational market – mostly readers for primary – so hopefully there’ll be more of that too. It’s always an interesting challenge.
6. Where can people get in touch with you?
They can find me on Facebook (Cameron Macintosh, author), on Twitter @CamMaci99, Instagram @cam.e.macintosh and on my website: www.cameronemacintosh.com.au
Thanks for our chat, Cameron. I wish you every success with your book!
BOOK 4 - Film Flip
Author: Cameron Macintosh
Illustrator: Dave Atze
Release Date: 16/Sep/2019
Subject: Children, Sci Fi, Adventure, Mystery
Book Type: Paperback
Dimensions: 153mm x 213mm
I would like to express my sincere gratitude to Paul for launching Under the Same Sky, today. I am truly flattered and humbled by the very kind and generous comments he made. I am so grateful for his generosity of time and words.
Thank you to Beth and the staff at The Children’s Bookshop for hosting the event and for their passion and drive.
This has been a work of passion that has found its way to being published, thanks to the amazing support and guidance of Sophia Whitfield and the team at New Frontier Publishing. And, of course, a huge thank you to Nicky and her husband for flying up from Melbourne to be here.
Nicky was amazing today. Loved hearing about her process. She was a huge hit. It would not have been the same without you.
Thank you to everyone for being in attendance to support the release of Under the Same Sky into the world, today.
Also, I would like to thank all those who were unable to make it but sent me well-wishes. :-) x
Look what I found waiting for me at my doorstep, today! Advance copy of The Voyage with Andrea Edmonds and EKBooks.
So surprised to see GOLD foil on the cover - woohoo! More bling to add to my collection!
Thank you to @anouskajoneswriter @ekbooksforkids and Andrea Edmonds for producing such a beautiful book.
Out October, 2019. Great way to end Book Week. :-) xx
Welcome to my blog page!
Here you will find the latest news and updates on my writing and published books.