Archive for July, 2010

Whitsunday Voices

Dear blog: will you ever forgive me for so neglecting you? I was off gallivanting (how often does one get to use that word?) with other writers and illustrators, lovers of literature and hordes of enthusiastic kids. And not just anywhere, but in the balmy, sub-tropical, north Queensland town of Mackay. Can you see now why it’s taken me a while to come back down to earth enough to blog?

This year’s Whitsunday Voices Youth Literature Festival was easily the highlight of my writerly times to date. Everyone involved was energetic and engaging, from the organisers and school staff to the 5000 students who attended over the two days. The event was buzzing with story in all its forms: books, art, poetry, movement and music. I had a number of student minders allocated to me over the festival, and I hope they know how much I appreciated their smiles and conversation (even amongst the stress of making sure I got to each room on time – thanks girls). I got to meet some incredibly creative youngsters in my illustration workshops, where we made our own textured papers and created different interpretations of an Australian bush scape. The book talks were also great fun, where we got a bit silly in creating some monster characters. In one session we designed a monster based on a giraffe, and below you can see some of the results (I particularly like the spacey monster).

Writers get the reputation of being a bit reclusive, but this certainly isn’t the case when you get them all together. The other writers and illustrators involved were not only incredibly talented and inspiring to be around, but also genuinely lovely people. Gus Gordon is a hoot, and I had kids quoting his jokes at me in the playground (Gus, I might have stolen a few for my own use). PDMartin was my festival sister, and in her sessions shared some fascinating stories of the research that goes into her crime novels. Ruben Meerman (aka The Surfing Scientist) was just as energetic and entertaining as he is on TV. Ghostboy was the beating heart of the festival, leaving a trail of poetry and mischief in his wake. There were so many other incredible creators and I feel really lucky that I got to spend an intense couple of days with them all. I know I’ve come away from it with some good friends and kindred spirits.

Probably the best group photo, although unfortunately I'm not in it. From left to right: Michael Wagner, Ghostboy (David Stavanger), Tristan Bancks, Gus Gordon, PDMartin, Deb Abela, John Danalis, Ruben Meerman and James Roy

Gus, me and Deb in the hotel lounge before the big dinner

The festival finished off with the big literary dinner, decorated (as described by Ghostboy I believe) like a Tim Burton style prom night. There was much talking. Much drinking. And it almost goes without saying: much dancing. There might be photo evidence of the latter, but for the sake of all involved they wont be going up on this blog. I have been accused of dancing on tables in the past (Michael Gerard Bauer, I’m looking at you) but I will just say this – there was certainly some tabletop dancing, but not by me.

So much goes into these events and yet they always seem to pass in the blink of an eye. And with all that it’s over for another year. I’m home again, trying to adjust to the cold and rainy Adelaide winter and get back into my writing / illustrating projects. It’s not going to be easy, but thoughts of other festivals to come will keep me going…

Illustration Workshop

At this year’s Whitsunday Voices Youth Literature Festival I’ll be doing a series of talks for all different ages. I’m super excited, as getting the chance to connect with my audience is easily one of the most joyous parts of being a children’s writer and illustrator.

I’ll be doing several book talks with grades 2-5, where I’ll discuss the role of author / illustrator, read Squish Rabbit and talk about how the story and characters developed. I’ll also read my story Monster Music, teach the kids how to draw some of the characters and together we’ll create our own monster. Can’t wait to see the results!

I’ll also be doing a series of illustration workshops with grades 5-8 and 9-12, for those specifically interested in art. In these I’ll read my short story Haunted (from the anthology Short and Scary) and discuss how an illustrator would go about illustrating such a tale. Together we’ll then illustrate a single scene from the story, using collage and mixed media. We’ll also be making our own textured paper, using paint, oil pastels and certain tools. Yesterday I had a go at making the scene myself, which you can see below. There were some happy accidents, like the trees’ canopy – I had intended to keep the image limited to the rectangular canvas, but before folding back the overhanging trees I realised I quite liked them the way they were. I also figured out a few tricks in speeding up the whole process, and even discovered how not to do certain bits…

It should be fun. Kids are so creative, and I love hearing all their big ideas. I also know high school artists are incredibly talented, and am fully prepared for many of them to be better at drawing than me!

PS. The competition in the last post is still open, so remember to comment if you want a chance to win…

Competition Time!

This July I’ve been invited back to the Whitsunday Voices Youth Literature Festival, which is held in tropical Mackay (north Queensland), my old home town. I’ll be doing a series of book talks and illustration workshops, along with a number of other wonderful authors and illustrators. I had such a fabulous time at last year’s festival and am thrilled I’ll get to be involved again.

Unfortunately Squish Rabbit will not quite be published in time for the festival, so instead I’ve created a series of postcards and bookmarks featuring my characters. They’ll be for sale through the festival bookshop.

COMPETITION: For your chance to win a signed copy of one of my postcards and bookmarks just leave a comment on this post, telling me which ones you’d choose if you won. Once I return from the festival (21st July) I’ll draw a winner out of a hat and announce it in the comment thread. Make sure I have some way of contacting you in case you win!

22/07/10 UPDATE: Thanks for all who entered and said such lovely, supportive things. I decided to draw three winners, and they are – Lynne the Lurker, Meg McKinlay and Susan Bonaci. I drew the winning names using an online random number generator (I wrote a few names out on pieces of paper, wanting to stay true to my above promise to draw the names from a hat, before giving up – clearly I’m too impatient). In a strange twist of fate, each person chose a different character. I’ll contact you each individually to find out where to send your prize…

About this Blog…

A blog of ramblings about the world of writing and illustrating for children, by an author / illustrator who might just have a thing for rabbits.

Katherine's picture books, 'Squish Rabbit' and 'Brave Squish Rabbit', are out with Viking (Penguin, US) and UQP (Australia). Please e-mail if you would like her to blog about something in particular.

All text & images  Katherine Battersby

Released Sept 2012:


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