Archive for the 'Books' Category

The New Yorker

Squish Rabbit has now been out hopping around bookstores for four months in the US and three months in Aus. He’s certainly an active little rabbit who appears to be less shy than I first thought. Most recently he’s popped up in none other than The New Yorker, who have called him ‘whimsical’ and ‘charming’:

Battersby’s illustrations mix whimsical line drawings with touches of colour from fabric and paper collages

Squish appears in the December 5th issue, which is out on shelves now.

Squish and I have also visited a few other writerly-type-places recently. Reading Time, the gorgeous journal for the Children’s Book Council of Australia, recently published an article about my writing and illustrating process. They also did a lovely review of Squish Rabbit, saying:

The depth of the story is in the rabbit’s emotions which come through the pictures. Squish is drawn simply with a black outline, but has plenty of personality showing through the shape of his body, ears and eyebrows … Just right for 2-5 years olds, and anyone who has ever felt lonely or small.

Buzz Words (the e-zine for writers, illustrators, publicists and anyone involved with children’s books) also did a delightful review of Squish, saying:

This adorable children’s tale is not just a picture book with cute characters. Squish Rabbit’s simple wisdom will withstand the test of time … A perfect pre-kinder introduction to making friends.

Finally Cynsations, Cynthia Leitich Smith’s blog all about the world of writing and illustrating for young people, interviewed me about what it is like to be a new picture book author / illustrator. Here’s a snippet of what I had to say about where Squish Rabbit began:

Looking back on my childhood, Squish Rabbit certainly captures my emotional truths. I recall vividly what it was like to feel small in a big world …  I remember having important things to say, in a world where big people get listened to first. I recall having questions and thoughts and ideas bubbling up inside of me, and yet having no clue how to say any of it. This is ultimately why I started writing and drawing – to express all those things I had trouble voicing.

Now I’d best get off the black-hole-of-productivity that is the internet, as I have a very important date with my little rabbit. We’re still on deadline with his second adventure. The fateful date is creeping ever closer, and we still have a few scenes to complete…

Wish me luck!

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Melbourne Squish Rabbit Launch (in photos)

I love my sunny hometown of Brisbane. But because the grass is always greener, when asked what my favourite Aussie town is I’ve always answered Melbourne. I love the pastel colours of the city, the old-London architecture, the hum and crackle of tram wires, and the graffitied alleyways with their hole-in-the wall coffee and soup joints. Also the Haigh’s stores (dark choc-pepermint frogs are an old favourite indulgence). I’m always looking for an excuse to pop down south, so it’s no surprise that I jumped at the chance to launch Squish Rabbit in Melbourne-town.

On November 5th a bunch of wee bunnies and readers gathered at The Little Bookroom to help me do just that. The lovely store owner, Leesa, did a beautiful job of decorating the store in true Squish style (plenty of carrots, apples and red balloons) and the delightful Wendy Orr launched my book. Musical maestro Richard did an amazing job of accompanying me on keyboard with his original music while I did a book reading. There was also a craft table with Squishy scribblings happening throughout the talks, I did an illustration demonstration and there were lots of delicious nibbles. Such a fun day. If you couldn’t make it but would like to get your paws on a signed copy, there are plenty in both of The Little Bookroom stores, as well as Dymocks (city), Readings (Carlton) and Brunswick Street Bookstore (Fitzroy).

At the launch with some peonies given to me by the lovely Neridah McMullin

As much as I enjoyed my time away I was really glad to get home. Not surprising considering my partner and I worked out on the plane back to Brisbane that in 8 months we have done 15 work related trips away – including New York, Sydney, Townsville, Toowoomba, Mackay, Broken Hill, Sunshine Coast, Gold Coast and Byron Bay. Luckily we now have a few months at home (mostly), that is until the work starts up again in the new year…

In the meantime, here’s a sampling of photos from the launch day. Thanks to all those who hopped by!

The Little Bookroom, Carlton North

Colouring table

Little bunnies clutching crayons and carrots

Leesa making enthusiastic hand gestures

Wendy saying nice things

Bunny book reading

Awesome spec-fic writer, Bren, caught herself a rabbit

Signing and posing

So many rabbits (they do have a habbit of multiplying)

You can also read about the day and see more photos over at My Little Bookcase and at Claire Saxby’s blog.

The Wildkin’s Curse

I’ve been lucky enough to have had Kate Forsyth visiting this blog for the last few days, sharing valuable insights into how she plots her novels. Although she wasn’t just stopping by for a casual chat about craft. She’s been touring the blogosphere with her latest novel, The Wildkin’s Curse (a companion novel to The Starthorn Tree).

Just last night I finished reading it, and I give you this warning: don’t read it in bed. If you do you’ll never get to sleep due to it’s un-put-downable nature. *Yawn*. Needless to say, I thoroughly enjoyed it.

The back copy reads:

Zedrin is a starkin lord and heir to the Castle of Estelliana. Merry is a hearthkin boy, the son of the rebel leader. Liliana is a wilkin girl, with uncanny magical powers.

They must journey on a secret mission to rescue a wildkin princess from her imprisonment in a crystal tower.

Princess Rozalina has the power to encahnt with words – she can conjure up a plague of rats or wish the dead out of their graves. When she casts a curse, it has such power it will change her world forever.

Set in a world of monsters and magical creatures, valiant heroes and wicked villains, The Wildkin’s Curse is a tale of high adventure and true love.

There is a reason Kate has been named the queen of Australian fantasy. She creates such vivid and compelling worlds, and expertly weaves words together to form a glorious tapestry of a story. I haven’t read a classic fantasy in while, but this book reminded me exactly why I fell in love with the genre as a young reader. Kate’s early works helped shape me as an adolescent, and I know this book will do the same for others. It’s an adventure that engages the heart and mind. A tale of three lives intertwined that is both subtle and complex.

I have just slotted the book into my crammed bookshelf, in one of the precious rare spaces I carved out for it on an eye-level shelf. And there doesn’t come a greater recommendation than that…

Short and Scary

Up for a bit of creepiness? I hope so, because Black Dog Books is just about to release their latest anthology, Short and Scary. It’s a book that promises to be full of ‘a whole lot of creepy stories and other chilling stuff’, and it’s not wrong. Ghosties and ghoulies and monsters and all sorts of freakiness crawls over each and every page.

How do I know? Because one of my stories is featured between the pages. Just today I received my advance copy, and enjoyed seeing Haunted alongside stories written by so many authors and illustrators I admire, such as Shaun Tan, Sally Rippin, James Moloney, Gabrielle Wang, Carole Wilkinson, Andy Griffiths, Terry Denton, James Roy and the list goes on. It’s also thrilling to share the pages with many good friends of mine (girls, you know who you are). I encourage you to go grab yourself a copy, not just because it’s a great read, but also because all proceeds will be donated to a really worthwhile charity called Big Brothers Big Sisters, who provide a much needed youth mentoring program.

As an aside, I haven’t blogged much lately because I’ve been quite busy – not with my usual writing, but writing articles and preparing talks…

  • I was recently the featured author in Writing Queensland, the QLD Writers Centre magazine, which involved an interview
  • I was approached by the ACT Writers Centre and asked to contribute an article on picture books to one of their upcoming magazines
  • July 14th-16th I’ll be speaking at Whitsunday Voices, giving talks and illustration workshops to grades 2-4 and 9-12
  • July 17th I’ll be doing a talk on Making Picture Books for the Gold Coast Writers’ Association (non-members are welcome to attend too)

There’s nothing I enjoy more than speaking about writing and illustrating, and I’m really looking forward to doing some more speaking events. So I’ve been busy, but happy. Although I will enjoy getting back to my new novel…

The Magician’s Elephant

2009-10-13We all have them. Books we wish we’d written. And for me, there is no other author that has written more of them than Kate DiCamillo. She writes the kind of books I can only dream of creating:

The Miraculous Journey of Edward Tulane

The Tiger Rising

The Tale of Despereaux

If you haven’t read them, do it. Now. I’m not certain how she does it, but she fills each of her tales with such magic and wonder and heart aching truth. She’s really quite brilliant. And it would seem she’s done it again with The Magician’s Elephant:

I could cry for wanting to read this book…

Reading Blind

2009-09-06I love reading blind. Not literally (obviously), but reading a book I know nothing about. One where I’ve never read a review and have intentionally avoided the back cover blurb, so all I know is the title and the author’s name.

I find this allows me to enjoy the story and the characters as they unfold. Each new discovery is like a little gift – completely fresh and unexpected. Obviously, this only works in certain circumstances: when a book is recommended by someone I trust, when an author I adore releases a new book, when a book wins an award I innately trust. When that happens, there is nothing that gives me greater pleasure than letting the author reveal the tale in exactly the way they intended, without any preconceived notions or ideas that others have placed in my head.

At the end, I read the back cover blurb, and always find it reveals things that would have disrupted my journey with the book. If I’m told there’s a twist, I’m notorious for figuring it out long before I’m meant to (in movies, too). But if I’m not forewarned, then when it comes, the ground falls away from under me and I get to experience that wonderful sensation of plummeting with the characters.

The most recent book I did this with was Glenda Millard’s intensely beautiful A Small Free Kiss in the Dark. I have adored all her work – she draws such vivid, eccentric characters and her voice is poetic and unique – and this was no exception. I laughed and cried and wished I knew these characters and cried some more. If you want to try reading this book blind, then don’t read this next sentence. Some of the things I didn’t know about the book were small and immediate details – like that the main character is homeless and an artist and collects other lost souls along his journey. Then there were bigger things – like the fact that a war tears apart their city. All this was on the back cover and more, but because I knew none of it, I got to savour each detail as it was revealed through the narrative.

A small thrill, but one I savour.

Soapbox

Rabbit - angryOk. I’ve warned you. Soapbox time.

I often get frustrated when writers complain about all the ‘crap’ that gets published. Especially when they go on to say that their ‘masterpiece’ has been rejected by agents and publishers. Then there are those who detail how hard they’ve slaved over their unpublished novel, feeling personally affronted that this supposed ‘dreck’ gets pumped out by publishers. (Note: I don’t think I’ve ever been in a conversation like this – I usually read such things in the comment thread of other blogs)

I can honestly say I’ve never thought this way. Taste is very subjective – what I loathe in books, I know others pronounce as genius. I’d never question why a book has been published. Behind every book there is a writer who, just like me, had a dream to get published: who lost sleep over producing this book, who worked with publishers to make it the best it could be and who worried about what others would think of it.

There. I’ve said it. Now I’ll step down, ducking the rotten tomatoes, and refer you to someone who said it better. Go visit Rachelle Gardner, an American literary agent with WordServe Literary, who blogged about All Those Awful Books.


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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