A bookish Autumn

Autumn is all but over, and in a weird absence of red and yellow leaves, it’s at least been sprinkled with bookish highlights. Each recent event, book launch or catch up has felt like a post(ish)-Covid reunion, or a frenzied fun-fest in case we’re locked down once more (sorry, Melbourne. It might be us too at any moment.)

Walking Your Human was royally read by Sarah Ferguson (as in, the Duchess of York herself – whaaaat?!) on her YouTube channel! Super exciting to see, and there was even a real life dog in the recording studio (just like the dogs in the book – with a mind of its own). Check it out:

I also attended a sparkly, feelgood launch for a non-profit kids’ anthology produced by the CBCA Eastern Suburbs Sydney sub-branch. Old Worlds New Worlds Other Worlds is full of poems, stories, plays and illustrations by a huge range of creators, and I was so thrilled to contribute a play co-written by team One More Page called Kate, Liz and Nat’s Epic Picnic. It’s a wacky little adventure to another world via a playground rocket ship (and what happens when you’re followed home by space puppies!). The Governor of NSW, the Hon. Margaret Beazley AC QC ran the official launch proceedings, CBCA’s Elizabeth Cummings MCed, and a bunch of us read excerpts from our stories. It was fun to catch up with so many people in the kidlit community, moments that are no longer taken for granted in this Covid-y world we find ourselves in.

Old Worlds New Worlds Other Worlds book launch at the State Library of NSW – with Kristen Darrell, Ursula Dubosarsky and Oliver Phommavanh (pic by Kristen)

There’s been some other great events too! I had a whirlwind weekend in Canberra, not only taking in art, visiting playgrounds resembling seed pods and whizzing by the lake on an electric scooter (recommend!), but presenting at the SCBWI ACT Conference, too. This was a wonderful event run by Shelly Unwin, Catherine Meatheringham and team, full of inspiring talks. Kate, Nat and I did individual talks, then came together later for a panel about our podcast, One More Page. Illustrator Max Hamilton spoke about her illustration journey with lots of tips for getting your illustration work noticed. Maryanne Ballantyne and Donna Rawlins from Wild Dog Books spoke too, which was very entertaining! My talk was a workshop on tapping into your talents to enhance your kids’ book career, with interactive bits making everyone do a bit of self-analysis. It was fun! And some attendees later told me they had a few lightbulb moments, which makes me very happy indeed.

A fab weekend in Canberra, presenting at the ACT SCBWI Conference

I also spoke about Walking Your Human at a CBCA Eastern Suburbs event (more book peeps! More catch ups! Plus dumplings!) and did a team presentation about One More Page for a CBCA Newcastle meeting, this time via Zoom.

In between, there’s been writing, podcasting (my most recent interview was with author Yvette Poshoglian – you can tune in here), and of course, reading. For my adult book club, we just read The Dictionary of Lost Words by Pip Williams. In #LoveOzYA reading, I devoured Jenna Guillaume’s You Were Made For Me, which was lots of fun (think a dream boy brought to life, Weird Science style). I’m currently reading timeslip middle grade Elsewhere Girls by faves Nova Weetman and Emily Gale, and next up is Plum and Woo by Lisa Siberry, a female-centric middle grade detective series. A picture book standout from the pile was Anna MacGregor’s new title with Scribble, A Pair of Pears and an Orange. So cute and clever!

I’m not sure what winter will bring, but it better be book-filled and non-virusy, and also involve ramen. Happy reading and writing! x

Events and books and … things

Kate, supportive superstar author Oliver P (with one of our mascots!), me and Nat at our CBCA talk

The other week, something exciting happened – our podcast team (One More Page) were invited to present at a CBCA event! It was a meeting of the Northern Sydney sub-branch, consisting of a fab crew including Wendy Fitzgerald, Jan Latta, Jules Faber, Brydie Wright and more. We talked setting up the podcast, highlights and heroes (a.k.a. every one of our interviewees! Cue Wind Beneath Our Wings …. yes, this happened). It was a lovely supportive crowd and a great venue, The Children’s Bookshop in Beecroft. We also got an early look at The Hole Idea, the new picture book collaboration by the bookshop’s owners, Paul and Beth, illustrated by Nathaniel Eckstrom. It’s brilliant!

More events …

Then not long after, it was time to attend the Creative Kids’ Tales Festival, a wonderful one-day event put on by Georgie Donaghey and the CKT team. I got so much out of the talks by Jackie French, Deb Abela, Jacqueline Harvey and Emma Quay, who all offered words of advice and encouragement, and shared their own journeys (and pitfalls – Emma reading aloud a less than flattering review of Rudie Nudie was a masterclass in developing a thick skin in the creative journey).

I also recently attended the SCBWI Sketch and Scribble event at the Art Gallery of NSW, viewing artworks to spark story ideas. There was also the launch of Cocoon by author/illustrator Aura Parker at Kinokuniya, complete with a live drawing session. The book is everything I imagined and more – warm, charming and bursting with character.

Searching for stories with the SCBWI crew

More books …

In other picture book reads – I’ve been reading (and re-reading …) Lottie and Walter by Anna Walker, A Quiet Girl by Peter Carnavas and Love, Z by Jessie Sima. As for what I’m anticipating – loads, but mostly Tilly by Jane Godwin and Anna Walker. You know when you *just know* you’ll love something? That.

Beyond the magical world of PBs, I’ve recently read CATCH A FALLING STAR by Meg McKinlay, a middle grade set in the 70s, that intertwines a historical space event with family and feelings. I really loved the voice in this. I’m currently mid-way through BOY SWALLOWS UNIVERSE, an award-scooping adult read (and feeling like the last person on earth to read it, but I’m enjoying the ride).

What else? Our podcast is careering towards 25k downloads (ahhh thank you, people who listen!), and we’re recording a new episode at the Sydney Writers’ Festival this weekend. We’ll be chatting to two stars of the SWF Family Day events, authors (and so much more) Adrian Beck and Sally Rippin. Can’t wait!

Current book stack …

 

More things …

Eating

There’s been many a new food find lately, with my kids discovering a newfound love of bubble tea (just find us at your nearest Gong Cha). We also had biang biang noodles and ‘Runaway Chicken’ (think fried chicken piled high with dried chillis and sichuan peppercorns) at Xian Eatery in Burwood, and the best massaman curry at Khao Pla in Chatswood – yes, will happily traipse all over Sydney (and beyond) for delicious eats.

Watching

It’s cooling down, it’s binge-watch weather, and there’s so much great viewing right now. Am currently addicted to Killing Eve – onto Season 2 now after a mega catchup-athon. And of course, Game of Thrones, and for some food-related wanderlust, Street Food on Netflix, which makes me want to hop a flight to check out the eat scene in Osaka.

Waiting

… to reveal more news (and the colourful cover!) of my own upcoming picture book release … sooooon!