Archive for the 'Me' Category

New Year, New Adventure

2014 has brought some big changes. Big, but exciting.
The short story is … I’m going to be dividing my time between Australia and Canada. But that’s a bit too short.
2014-01-20

Our snowy house

The long story is this: The only regret I’ve ever carried in life is that I’ve never lived overseas. Growing up, my head was filled with travel tales told by my mum, who shifted around the globe through her 20s and 30s. My parents met in Africa, travelled across Europe, got married in England and I was conceived in Oman, all before they settled in Australia to raise my brother and I. As a family we did many overseas trips to visit relatives and friends. When I left home I always intended to move overseas after uni, but life kind of got in the way. Fifteen years later and, well, it’s about time.
I was considering England when the opportunity to spend some time in Canada came up. I spent all of December over there, having myself a white Christmas and exploring Ottawa and the surrounds (which is where I’ll be based). There’s much to love about Canada – so much about the country and the people that have stolen my heart. It’s already left an imprint on my creative mind: I’m currently working on a new picture book about a big brown bear and a small wild girl. Plus I have a sudden urge to end my sentences in ‘eh?’ and I’m getting insatiable cravings for maple syrup.
While I’m hoping to spend more time over there than not (starting early March), I’ll actually continue to divide my time between Canada and Australia. It’s really important to me to keep in touch with my Australian readership and to continue to develop links with local schools and festivals (not to mention visiting family and friends!). I’ll be back in Australia over July and August for a packed two months of speaking engagements, however I still have days free in both months so contact my speaker’s agents if you’re interested in a visit from me or Squish Rabbit (links on the right).

Based on the photos, I keep getting told I look as though I was born in Canada. I think it’s the fair skin and pale eyes. I’m really excited about the change and love the idea of being closer to all sorts of other unique travel experiences. We already have two trips planned, first to Cuba and then in summer to the Moraine Lake Lodge in the Rocky Mountains. But instead of trying to convince you as to why I’m setting out on this adventure, how about some photos so you can see for yourself?
Ottawa city and its frozen canal (perfect for iceskating)

Ottawa city and its frozen canal (perfect for iceskating)

Amazing museums and art galleries (I love this sculpture by Bill Reid)

Amazing museums and art galleries (I love this sculpture in the Museum of Civilisation by Bill Reid)

Lots of time to read and eat French pastries (in the inner city industrial style cafe 'Art Is In')

Weekends reading and eating French pastries (in the inner city industrial style cafe ‘Art Is In’)

Writing by the fire

Writing by the fire

Gorgeous outdoor installations (this lonely wolf haunts my dreams)

Outdoor art installations (this lonely wolf still haunts my dreams)

And another, this time in Montreal (called 'Light Therapy')

And another, this time in Montreal (called ‘Light Therapy’)

Did I mention the food?

Did I mention the food?

And the salmon (I could live on smoked atlantic salmon)

And the salmon (I could live on smoked atlantic salmon)

Loving the graffiti art (snow makes the bunnies a little mad)

Loving the graffiti art (turns out snow makes the bunnies kinda crazy)

An Aussie style barbecue (clearly)

An Aussie style barbecue (clearly)

Icicles taller than me

Icicles taller than me

REAL christmas trees (and all decorations I collected locally)

REAL christmas trees (and all decorations I collected locally)

Christmas morning sunrise from a cabin in the woods

Christmas morning sunrise from a cabin in the woods

Finally, I was lured to Ottawa with the promise of divine hot chocolate. And they didn't disappoint...

Finally, I was lured to Ottawa with the promise of divine hot chocolate. And they didn’t disappoint…

European Non-Rabbits

It is a well known fact that I have a bit of thing for rabbits. What is lesser known is that I actually love animals of all kinds. All picture books I write feature animals, usually as the main characters. In fact, recently I have begun working on my first picture book featuring kids, but even then they are all dressed as animals.

A few posts back I did a photo diary about all the rabbits I encountered during a recent trip across Europe. As rabbits feature a lot on this blog, I thought I owed it to all the other animals to give them a bit of blog time. So here are some of the non-rabbits that crossed my path in Europe:

These suspicious geese on a Scottish loch:

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This dog (dug) at an Edinburgh pub:

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Dogs could go anywhere in Europe. In pubs, banks, on buses and the underground. I wish Australia was more like this.

This grumpy bird (eyeing all the Geordies in Newcastle):

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This graffiti pig in Venice:

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This bizarre bronze zoo in the misty hills of Eze (France):

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Over 50 animals. Can’t imagine how they got them all the way up the mountain.

This snarly lion:

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Roar

This Scottish house for elephants:

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Actually, this is an obligatory children’s author shot (the cafe where J.K.Rowling penned her Harry Potter series)

This most enchanting stray dog on the drive from Barcelona:

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He so stole my heart I spent several days trying to figure out how to adopt him & get him back to Australia. But he was well looked after by the town & had made his home in a fuel station, greeting all passers by.

These fish in a Berlin blizzard:

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This delightful stray cat in Niguelas, Spain:

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We fed her and loved her and called her Peppi.

These noble once-dogs at Edinburgh Castle:

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These hungry goats and sheeps in a Spanish village:

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These wild-eyed things:

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You can be sure there will be picture books to come inspired by these animals. They were all quite unique characters in their own ways.

Especially the cranky bird. He had spunk.

 

I’m Back!

Yes, indeedy I am. I arrived home a few weeks ago and after a short detour (hopping off to Alice Springs for their writers festival) I have caught up on sleep, unpacked and am back into the swing of things. After two months away, ‘back into the swing of things’ really means that I have had to remember what it is to be a responsible adult, pay bills and relearn how to operate my vacuum cleaner.

I had such an amazing time overseas and I have a million things to blog about (Bologna! Seven Stories! European rabbits! New projects!) all of which I will do soon.

Oh, and I may have had a change of hair colour…

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Someone pointed out that it’s kind of carrot coloured. I think Squish would be proud.

Inside an Illustrator’s Head

So I’ve been working on a new picture book. And for the first time in a while, this one is not about a little rabbit named Squish. The other day my mum asked me what Squish thought about being ejected from my mind for another character. I think he’s coping, but he’s definitely curious about ‘the new guy’ and is reserving judgement.

This is a bit what it all looks like…

It’s a strange thing to have a little blue pig romping around your mind. A strange and wonderful thing. I’m not sure where he will take me just yet, but I’m certainly enjoying getting to know him.

I also thought I’d better put up another photo, in response to this one from my last post:

There’s been a bit of contention as to what’s real. I labelled it as Squish Rabbit reading his own book while wearing a giraffe beanie. After all, it was a cold weekend in Brisbane. Some questioned whether I was being ridiculous (and to be honest, this does happen sometimes) and felt that this was actually just a giraffe toy pretending to be Squish. But here is photo evidence that the giraffe beanie does indeed exist:

I wore it at the Ekka yesterday. In public. And took a photo. I suppose this also serves as evidence that I am sometimes ridiculous.

Adelaide Fringe Festival

It’s so easy to get caught up in the time warp of writing and drawing. To spend too long in my own mind with only my ideas for company. Yet I find in order to fuel my ideas I need to keep my creative well full, by getting out of my head and seeing what the creative world is up to – reading, watching, listening … and attending the Adelaide Fringe Festival.

At least, that was my latest creative adventure. I was lured there by my poetically mischievous partner, with promises of music and plays and cabaret and street art, not to mention great food and wine. I was also an Adelaidian for a short while myself, so it was a thrill to return to a city I know quite well – but this time as a tourist.

In the months earlier I put on my designer cap to help create some posters and postcards for David’s performances. Then of course we had to set out and do some poster spotting when we arrived…

Postcards for the band shows at the Spiegeltent (credit: Justin Leegwater's moth illustration and Matt Leasegang's photography)

'Ghostboy with Golden Virtues' posters around the Fringe

Postcards for David's solo show with Richard, at La Boheme (think velvet, cocktails and cheeky bar staff)

Posters spotted 'Live' in North Adelaide

It was an amazing but ridiculously busy week, and my only regret is that amongst my own work and all the fringe happenings I didn’t get to catch up with some of my favorite Adelaide writers. Next time I will have to make it a more social trip. One of the benefits of having an artist’s pass was that I could get into all the shows for free, so I saw a LOT of art while there…

Fringe Highlights:

  • Michael Workman’s one man play Mercy – The tale of a Cuban man set adrift on the high seas with nothing but a pile of cabbages. A funny, moving and at times achingly beautiful love story, full of heart. Great writing too. While watching it, my chest swelled with all the things I want to make as an artist
  • Sam Simmons’ About the Weather – Another one man play, but this time full of Sam’s mad quirk and sideways meanderings. Loved it
  • The Table – Four polish man transform what appears to be an everyday wooden dining table into an incredibly diverse instrument. Their music moves from amazing soundscapes and playful percussion to hard electro-rock. Completely unexpected (I literally had no idea what I was walking into!)
  • Soap – Acrobatics, opera, comedy and modern dance all happening in bath tubs. This was a lot of fun (warning: if you must sit in the front, wear a raincoat)
  • Drinking cider and dancing with the band at the artist’s Fringe Club (and getting home after 5am…)
  • Delicious pizza at a stall in the Garden of Unearthly Delights (best we’ve had since New York)

Other Highlights:

  • Our only day off spent catching the tram out to Glenelg where we flicked through records, drank milkshakes and danced on the beach
  • Visiting my old favourite eateries to find nothing had changed – still awesome food, great atmosphere and delightful staff
  • Walking into the city through the parks and along the river
  • Visiting the lovely people at The Little Big Book Club (more on this later…)

What I could have done without:

  • Late nights and early starts (this wee rabbit is not as spritely as she once was)
  • A prank gone wrong that had David and I believing we had been violently broken into (Richard, I’m looking at you)
  • Cold nights. VERY cold nights. Adelaide weather, you had prepared me for summer heat!
  • Returning home to the worst flu I’ve had in forever

All up though it was an amazing trip. And not only is my creative well full, but my belly is also full of South Australian delights. It seems I have both some writing and exercise ahead of me…

Hopped into Haigh's for some choc-pepermint frogs but bagged myself a bilby instead

Romancing the Stars

Happy (late) Valentine’s day! Happy day of romance and flowers and winged little fat men toting arrows. Or as wiki would have it, happy commemoration of love and affection between intimate companions (now doesn’t that sound exciting?). So how did I spend this romantic day of days?

I spent it speed dating librarians*.

Yup, you read that right. Last night Book Links, an active QLD group that promotes a love of stories in young people, threw an event called ‘Romancing the Stars’. It was all about Australia’s National Year of Reading 2012 and our Queensland ambassador, Nick Earls, launched it with his usual humour and charm. The Big Read was also launched, an initiative that celebrates books set in Queensland, and the shortlist was announced. You can see all the awesome books chosen and vote for your favourites here (go on – you know you want to). Josie Montano did a hilarious job as MC for the night and the Sunde sisters did a surprise singing skit (clever and so funny).

All the authors and illustrators

It was a great chance for local children’s writers and illustrators to connect with teachers, librarians and fellow book lovers. Hence the speed dating. All the authors sat at tables across the room and guests rotated around them, with three minutes to talk to each creator. It was a pretty lighthearted and fun night, and I met (dated) some truly inspirational teacher librarians. I didn’t give my number out to anyone (I’m not that sort of girl, at least not on first dates) but a few people took down my website and I’ve already had some enquiries about school talks.

Pick the picture book authors Vs the serious novelists

Chris Bongers, me and Julie Nickerson

Hope everyone else had a romantic (if not bookish) kind of Valentine’s Day!

* With my reputation as a tragic romantic on the line, I thought I’d best confess that apart from this event I actually spent the day with my lovely poet. Think breakfast in bed, a French feast and a little late night Casablanca

Year of the Rabbit

Last week heralded in the Chinese New Year and with it came the end of a year I’d come to think of as my own: the Year of the Rabbit.

<sigh>

All good things must come to an end.

But let’s not be sad. The rabbits will live on in my mind, as well as between the covers of one small squishy book off hopping about the place. And what better way to mark the passing of such a special year than with a celebration of all things rabbit? Here’s a photo diary of all the wee bunnies I spied in the many places I travelled to over one very busy year…

Demon bunny! An amazing street art installation on the streets of New York:

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A literary bunny very close to my heart. I adored Winnie the Pooh growing up, with the stern fatherly rabbit. This is a display of the original toys owned by A.A.Milne’s son, held in the New York Public Library:

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New York pub bunny (not for the kiddies):

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An awesome graffiti mural in San Fran:

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I LOVE carousels. Don’t they make you feel ever young? This beachside San Fran one was clearly made for me:

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Let’s play spot the bunny (in the sugar made wonderland at Brisbane’s MoMA):

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Totoro! Ok, so technically he’s a Japanese forrest spirit, but he certainly looks rabbit-like. I found him in a funky bookstore in DUMBO, New York:

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A whole ocean of bunnies. A gorgeous print I discovered in a Sydney shop front by Kozyndan:

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Walking Hollywood Boulevard with the stars:

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A bunny with a bright idea (in Melbourne):

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A rabbit-like stone amongst the Living Desert Sculptures. Take a look at the fashion statement on the rabbit in front (it was cold up there and a passing poet gave me his coat):

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A Broken Hill bunny?

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Finally, the rarest of them all … bunny-caninus, so fast and dastardly I hardly caught him on film:

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I hope you all have a luck-filled and prosperous Year of the Dragon.


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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