Posts Tagged 'books'

Bookstore Paparazzi

[Please read with your best David Attenborough voice…] Armed with camera, carrots and a sense of adventure, on Monday we headed out into the wilds of Brisbane suburbia in search of our first glimpse of Squish Rabbit. The book was said to have been released into the bookstore savanna just that morning, however there had been rumoured sightings for several days prior.

A notoriously shy creature, Squish Rabbit is best approached with reading glasses and a gentle hand. If having trouble tracking him down, try asking your local bookstore or librarian, as they are well trained in the art of literary rabbit spotting. As a last resort, attempt the tried and true trail of carrots. On this day we were in luck, as we managed to track the wily rabbit to our local bookstore: Black Cat Books. And for a typically nervous creature, Squish seemed to quite enjoy the paparazzi attention…

I also had a box of books arrive from both publishers on the same day, and now have a veritable fountain of rabbits in my home. If they keep multiplying (as rabbits tend to do) I may have to start putting them to good use around the house. One on the bookshelf of course. Several as matching drink coasters. One to entertain the dog. Hang one on the wall as a postmodern art work. One beneath the outdoor table leg to stop it rocking. Two as ironic book ends. Any other ideas..?

Front window display in Black Cat Books

The countdown is now on for the launch. Only two days to go…

Rabbity Book Launch

As of yesterday, Squish Rabbit is now officially in Australian stores! Only a few days now until the Brisbane book launch, which will be held at the glorious Black Cat Books in Paddington. Please join us if you can.

There may even be an appearance from a little furry friend…

(click on the image to see a larger version of the invite)

Print Proofs

Squish can be a wily little rabbit. He’s hoppity and excitable. Hard to get a hold of. From the very beginning he was tough to pin to the page – it took me several years to do just that. So I wasn’t surprised when, after my publisher sent him on his first trip to me through the post, he went missing.

We’re not really sure what happened. Maybe he got lost. Maybe he got distracted. Maybe he hopped off on a detour through Fiji – even a mini rabbit can harbor secret desires for sun and surf (and cocktails). Rumour actually has it he got held up in customs.

Anyway, after a long wait Squish Rabbit finally arrived:

My first printed page proofs. These are a set of unbound prints of all the pages that will make up the picture book. As a writer it’s important to look over the layout of the text and check for any typos. As an illustrator it’s vital to ensure all the colours have printed the way you hoped and that there are no glitches in the images.

Holding the proofs is wonderfully surreal. A few years back this strange little rabbit lived purely in the warren of my mind. But it’s all starting to feel real now. There was even a sighting of him online (thanks Maddy!). And with a printed version it’s really starting to look like a proper book. Fun times…

Sneak Peek

Here’s the first sneaky-rabbity-peek of the cover of my picture book. My wonderful art director did a brilliant job in suggesting a background colour, which makes Squish just pop out of the page. Love it. Viking recently sent the digital page proofs of the final layout my way for approval and the book is now at the printers. I should get the first printed page proofs in the next few months. Exciting times. Still a while until release though, but I can now officially say that Squish Rabbit will be in bookstores on the 4th August 2011…

Squish Cupcakes

How is it that friends always know when you need a pick me up? On the way back from the Whitsunday Voices festival I stopped through Brisbane, my old home town. Not only was I exhausted from several days of speaking (I had a talk on the Gold Coast after the festival also), but I was starting to get sick and being back in Brisbane made me realise how home sick I was too. Even so, I was really looking forward to catching up with my writing girls (all our token males were off doing other things).

Back LtoR: Chris Bongers, Lynn Priestley, Sheryl Gwyther, Julie Nickerson, Angela Sunde. Front: Belinda Jeffrey, me, Kathleen Noud - Tina Marie Clark was also there

It was a pretty normal kind of lunch – catching up, writing gossip, bubbles and laughs – until half way through when they blindfolded me. I wasn’t exactly sure where things would go from there. There’d been threats of hens night style entertainment having been organised. Luckily it was a more palatable surprise:

Squish Rabbit cupcakes! (not to be confused with squished rabbit cupcakes) The lovely Lynn Priestley organised it all, from the cupcake cooking to the pink floral wrapping. She also made some special ones for Sheryl Gwyther’s latest book, which we were also celebrating. And they didn’t just look good, they tasted good too…

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…

Baking Your Ideas

Ideas are wonderful and wily things. We chase them around, trying to catch their tails so we can pull them to us and write them down – capture them on the page. Creating a new story involves not just one idea, but many. Hundreds (if not thousands) of them must be woven together seamlessly to create the many-coloured threads of a novel.

I’ve discussed before that ideas don’t just pop into existence fully formed, but must be cultivated over a long period of time. Some people let them come together naturally in their mind. Some people do writing exercises to draw them out. Today I decided to bake them into existence.

Many of you may recall that baking is often a bad sign for me – a clear indicator that I’m having a bad day and need cheering up – but not today. For me, ideas best come together when my body is engaged in an activity but my mind is left free to wander. I find if I pose myself a question at the beginning of the task, by the end it tends to be answered. So…

  • The Challenge: To create lemon and ricotta baked doughnuts (with the help of my new lipstick-red Kitchen Aid)
  • The Goal: To get to know several of my characters better (I’m working on a young adult urban fantasy, and have two ‘bad guys’ that I know in name alone)

I thought I’d share with you the recipe I followed for my idea chasing:

  1. While I combined the batter ingredients, I considered what I already knew about my two bad guys
  2. While I kneaded the dough, I realised one wasn’t a guy at all and readjusted my thoughts on her (a sex change takes a while to get your head around)
  3. While I creamed the ricotta and lemon filling, I considered what they wanted in life and the motivations that could drive them through the story
  4. While I cut out the dough rounds and stuffed them with filling, I wondered about their childhoods and how their experiences had shaped them as people
  5. While I watched the dough rise and brown in the oven, I considered the consequences of their choices and how they would carry the weight of them
  6. And finally, while I dipped the cooked batter in butter and rolled them in lemon sugar, I realised these two characters were more interconnected than I’d initially realised

And the outcome of all this baking and thinking? I came away with:

  1. Two nuanced characters that I’ve discovered I actually care about (bad bits and all)
  2. An appreciation for bought doughnuts (this recipe took me a good part of the day)
  3. A happy but very full stomach

Care to join me in a sticky lemon doughnut?

Power of Suggestion

I finished editing a story the other day. It’s an early reader I first wrote a few years ago and it’s been through many drafts and rewrites. Settings have changed. Characters have been edited out. Darlings have been murdered. I sent it off to my agent and planned to put it out of my head until I heard her thoughts. I was going to be incredibly sensible about it all. ‘I’m not going to draw the characters,’ I told myself. ‘I’ll wait and see if there’s any interest in it first’.

Along comes my writing partner. ‘Have you started illustrating it yet?’ she says. I told her no (loudly), and repeated that I was being horribly sensible about it all. But my characters heard her. After that simple question, the mere suggestion of illustrating, they wouldn’t leave me alone. Talk about a riot. They pestered me until I had to draw them just to get them out of my head. And who would have thought, after I got over the self-doubt this illustration project stirred up (see my last post) I actually had some fun too.

Who needs ‘sensible’ anyway? And if the story doesn’t go anywhere, I’m still practicing and developing my style and getting more confident with each pen stroke. You’ll find some of the riot below…

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…


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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