Welcome back to my Time Out Blog, Ashling. I’m looking forward to hearing about the inspiration behind your latest release The Battle.
The Inspiration behind The Battle
This story was inspired by my son who was going through a difficult time at school. Every morning I’d watch him put on his uniform and his eyes would be filled with fear. I knew that in his mind, he really believed that he was going into battle.
Most of the issues he was having revolved around a group of children that he believed were bullying him. I knew the children involved and I wasn’t convinced that they were the sole source of the problem. I wondered if the situation was really as bad as he thought, or whether his perceptions of the world were slightly skewed.
The reason I questioned this was because my son is a sensitive soul and his heart is easily wounded. He treats everyone with kindness and offers his friends and family unconditional love. But what he didn’t understand is that not everyone is like him. People don’t always play nicely or talk to you in a polite manner, but that doesn’t mean they are bad or that they don’t like you.
I spoke to his school principal and did all of the things a concerned mum would. But I knew that unless I changed my son’s expectations of how the world should be and helped him build his resilience, he would always struggle in life.
We had a lot of discussions about the power of the mind how things aren’t always what they seem. I also emphasised the fact that we can’t control the outside world, we can only control how we perceive and deal with the outside world. Eventually my son was able to reframe his thoughts and view the world in a slightly different way.
The idea for The Battle came as a direct result of this situation. It’s the story of a little boy named Edward who is anxious about starting knight school. He’s sure that it will be full of ogres and dragons so he puts on his armour and prepares for battle. As the day progresses, Edward soon realises that the dragons and ogres he imagined don’t actually exist – they’re children, just like him.
Starting School Can be Scary Sometimes!
By: Ashling Kwok (Author), Cara King (Illustrator)
Publication date: June 1, 2020
Publisher: Exisle Publishing
Imprint: Ek Books
Format Hardback: 32 pages
Dimensions: 245 x 255mm
Here’s a sneak peek at my forthcoming picture book with the very talented Mel Armstrong and New Frontier Publishing Australia, releasing October, 2020. Appropriately titled 'Into the Wild' for when we are all out of iso.
I am truly grateful to Mel for her talented gifts and outstanding ability to bring my words to life through such stunning imagery. Cannot thank Mel enough.
And thank you also to New Frontier Publishing Australia New Frontier Publishing UK again for producing yet another gorgeous book. Woohoo!!
A bit of happiness arrived on my doorstep, today. What the world needs right now.
Happy book birthday!
Thank you to Nancy Bevington and Big Sky Publishing.
Happiness is a Cloud is available now to purchase:
Cuddle up with your loved ones and watch Tom Hardy read Under the Same Sky on CBeebies in the UK. Woohoo!
Tom Hardy has a deep, masterful voice and makes for an entertaining dive into bedtime stories. The CBeebies production team did an amazing and professional job. Couldn't have asked for more, Watch to your heart's content.
This is the icing on the cake.
Thank you again, CBeebies and Tom Hardy. New Frontier Publishing UK Nicky Johnston New Frontier Publishing Australia
Ckick on the link below to watch the episode in full.
Best news ever!
Award-winning actor Tom Hardy will be reading Under the Same Sky on the hugely popular UK children’s show CBeebies as a bedtime story on Tuesday 28th April.
My feet haven’t touched the ground yet. It appears, the news is all over the internet - Mirror and Daily Mail just to name a few.
Tom Hardy will be reading a new story every night with their themes of long distance friendship, sharing problems and true courage to help ease the pain during these difficult and challenging times.
This is HUGE news!
If you know or have family or friends living in the UK let them know to tune in.
I hope to get a copy of the episode to share with you all.
Big thanks to CBeebies and Tom Hardy. This is an honour and a privilege.
HUGE thanks to New Frontier Publishing Australia New Frontier Publishing UK and Nicky Johnston for producing such a beautiful book. Woohoo!
Still grinning from ear to ear.
Watch this space. Here's a link to an article from the UK: https://deadline.com/…/tom-hardy-bedtime-stories-cbeebies-…/
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 firstname.lastname@example.org
Also available from: Online retailers
Sea Song Publications email@example.com
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.
Welcome to my blog page!
Here you will find the latest news and updates on my writing and published books.