Posts Tagged 'Writing'

Squish Rabbit Bookplates (and kids say the darndest things)

Meeting readers is such a cool thing, and along the way I get to hear funny stories about how kids relate to my books. One little girl told me (referring to Squish Rabbit) that sometimes she feels lonely too, but her family makes her feel better and that maybe Squish should find his family too. One mum told me that (in Brave Squish Rabbit) her little girl is obsessed with the tiny pair of scissors in the bottom corner of one page. Another family said their daughter asked about my author photo, so they explained that I was the lady who made Squish, and ever since she has been calling me Squish’s mum.

Because my books are out in the US, I often get e-mails asking when I’ll be stopping through the various states for book signings. And oh how I would love to come and meet my American readers. But this is tougher than it sounds, considering I live in Australia. So while I wont be there in person any time soon, luckily there are some clever people about who organised some lovely bookplates for me to sign, which is almost the next best thing. If you can get your hands on one of these, they can be stuck in the front of your Squish Rabbit books…

My publisher, Viking / Penguin, sent a stack of these for me to sign for some special fans:

2013-01-29

I was really touched when an amazing bookstore in the Mississippi Delta, TurnRow Books Co, got in touch to say they had listed Brave Squish Rabbit as a favourite Fall read. They then went to the effort of creating some specially made bookplates for me to sign, and sent them along with some books for special customers:

A close-up of the unsigned bookplates. Get in touch with TurnRow if you’re interested in purchasing a Squish Rabbit book with one of these original signed bookplates (while stocks last):

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An Ode to First Drafts

So I’m writing a new novel at the moment. My first young adult novel. It’s a wily beast of a thing. And this is kinda what my days look like (or my ode to first drafts)…

Writing with my pup curled on my lap

On the good days…

  • This is all I ever want to do. Write. With tea. In my pyjamas. With my dog. Always
  • Nothing is more joyous than frolicking through worlds I’ve made up
  • How can I get out of this social thing? My characters are more interesting than my friends
  • Outside a cyclone brews / tsunamis hit / aliens attack / squirrels take over government … but I’m still writing
  • Dinner? What do you mean ‘have I cooked dinner’? I have on my hands an angsty teen with supernatural powers and a world to save
  • Weeeeeeeee!

Writing at my fav local Italian cafe

On the bad days…

  • I’m so busy. I have to clean the dishes / fold the laundry / wash the dog / grout the something or other / find other things to procrastinate with
  • My desk is too messy to write. I need ‘space’
  • Look at the weather! It’s too rainy to write. Instead I’ll curl up with a book and feel melancholy
  • Look at the weather! It’s too sunny to write. Instead I’ll go frolic in the park and feed ducks
  • I know I came to this cafe to write but I ran into a friend / really interesting stranger / the guy from that TV show, who I must talk to
  • I have all this paperwork to do. Important paperwork. Like tax. And bills. And online quizzes about which literary genius I’m most like

Every day… 

………Good day or bad

………….Excuses or not

………………If the world is still revolving then I’m still writing

It’s the only way to get a first draft done

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)

Voices on the Coast Part 2

This was my first year at Voices on the Coast, where I ran several different kinds of workshops with both primary and secondary students. My favourite part of these kind of events is meeting the kids and teens, as they’re funny and inspiring and so much more clever than I was at their age. Here are some of the drawings we did together in the primary school workshops…

Squishy Speech Bubbles

In this session I talked about how I tell my stories visually. We discussed emotion, body language, facial expression and a visual storytelling method I use in Squish Rabbit: pictorial speech bubbles. In this activity I had the kids brainstorm what picture we could draw in the speech bubble to let a reader know that Squish is hungry. There were some great creative suggestions, including tacos, sushi, pancakes and guacamole. We also discussed what each food would tell us about the kind of rabbit Squish is (ie. sushi might tell us he is Japanese, or well travelled, or is quite adventurous for a small rabbit).

We then chose one food to draw together – in the above class we chose a burger and the kids suggested all kinds of things to fill it with (clearly, we had to sneak in a carrot). We then worked on making it look extra tasty so the reader would really empathise with Squish and feel his hunger – notice the smell wafting, the sesame seeds and the big bite mark.

Making Monsters

In this session I talked all about characterisation – how I create my characters, the research involved and the drawing process. I used the example of a picture book of mine called ‘Monster Music’, where I had to create a whole horde of little monsters. In coming up with the characters, I actually drew about 100 different monsters before deciding on which ones to use in the book. In order to make sure they all looked like they belonged together and ensure they weren’t too scary (the story is more playful) I ended up basing each character on an animal and then adapting it. After demonstrating this I got the class to choose an animal to base our monster on.

The above class chose a bird, so together we brainstormed a couple of features unique to birds in which we’d keep – you can see they chose a beak, wings, feathers and claws. Next comes my favourite bit – we worked together to monster-ify our bird. The kids came up with all sorts of crazy ideas to make sure our character was really monster-like (the girls often want to keep their monsters cute, but the boys are quick to add fangs and blood). And did anyone notice the bunny ears on my monster? It actually wasn’t my idea!

The kids were a blast, and I wish I could show you all the zany foods and monsters they created. Or maybe instead I’ll just borrow some of their clever ideas for my next book… mwa ha ha <evil artist laugh>.

Squish Rabbit – First Copy

I love mail. Nearly everything is digital now-a-days, especially when it comes to correspondence, so more than ever it’s exciting to get mail with sticky tape and handwriting and creases and stamps. Just a few days ago I had a particularly exciting package arrive. My first copy of Squish Rabbit (the US version) came in a crisp white envelope, all the way from New York. It even had a handwritten note from my editor with it.

I was out with my partner when it arrived, so we had an emergency celebratory coffee just to mark the occasion. As you can imagine, there’s been much excitement at my house. Even my special little pup Frank has been caught up in the thrill of it all. I’m so proud of this book, and so grateful to everyone that has helped it to become all it is. Squish has been with me for a long time, so I’m thrilled to finally have his story in hardcopy.

For the first few days after it arrived I could be seen gripping the book, repeating the words ‘It’s a book! Look, it’s a real book!’ to anyone who would listen. But it’s slowly becoming more real to me that it will be in bookstores in just a few short months…

Writerly Party

Who said writers are a shy, unsocial bunch? I can’t speak for all writerly types, but at the very least Queensland writers aren’t. Last Thursday the Queensland Writers Centre threw its annual Christmas party, the first one held at their new premises at the State Library, South Bank.

This night was especially exciting for me as it was also the launch of the 2011 program of workshops and masterclasses. For the first time I’ll be a part of it, presenting a workshop called Making Picture Books in August next year. For more info (and to see my grinning mug) check it out on the QWC’s webpage. Here’s a snippet from their site about what the workshop will cover:

Focusing on the principles of writing for children and the craft of creating picture books, as well as covering how to build your resume and submit work to publishers, Katherine Battersby will illustrate each concept using picture book examples drawing from both classic and modern Australian titles. Perfect for anyone with a children’s story in the making!

It was a great night, with much chit chat, wine, finger food and posing in lovely frocks (mainly the women). Unfortunately there was no dancing, as some rumour mongers would have you think (you know who you are – Kathleen I’m looking at you). See the photos below for evidence of the fun had:

Me, Simon Groth (author and new addition to QWC staff) & Jodi DeVantier (WQ Editor)

Me, David 'Ghostboy' Stavanger (poet and general trouble maker), Kathleen Noud (YA writer / rumour monger) & Peter Allert (illustrator)


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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