Wombat Books Blog

Wombat Books blog is the place to keep up to date with all the goings-on in the world of Aussie kid's books.

An interview with Lisa Taylor

An interview with Lisa Taylor

Lisa Taylor graduated (eons ago) from Concordia University in Montreal, Canada with a BA in English Literature and History. Shortly after she began a lengthy career in marketing for the 3D graphics and animation software industry. In 2010, she and her family immigrated to New Zealand. They brought with them a family project, a manuscript actually, entitled Motive Games. The story combined one of her teenage sons’ interests (videogames) with one of her own (mystery novels). In 2011 the manuscript won the Caleb Prize in the Young Adult category and was published in 2012 by Wombat Books. The book is now being offered as a bundle: purchase of the print book comes with a free copy of the enhanced ebook.

Lisa is currently working on a sequel to Motive Games, working title: Kiwi Games. Taylor and her family live like pioneers in New Zealand’s Northland, taunting their family back in Canada with photos of exotic locally grown fruits and snowless winters.

Question 1: What is your favourite part about being an author?

Being an author – as opposed to a writer or editor – is awesome because I get to write about the things that interest me. (I admit that 3D graphics and animation… never interested me that much, hey wait… I’m still writing about those… hmmm.) I also get to write in a style of my choosing (though there are boundaries). Then there’s the challenge of writing fiction. I love it. There’s so much more “art” involved as compared to writing non-fiction (though that has its artistic side as well).

Question 2: What is the hardest part about being an author?

It’s the same as being self-employed in anything: it takes discipline. This means disciplining oneself to set aside the time for writing as well as disciplining oneself not to cut corners. In other words, I’ve got to do the research to get the facts right, the technique right, the editing (multiple passes) right…

Question 3: What do you do for fun?

I play the flute (local sinfonia) and sing (local choir). I also read stories to my kids (yes, even the big ones) and go out exploring/travelling. I used to garden for fun but that’s become less fun and more serious since my son started a horticulture business (though, did I tell you I planted banana trees the other day… oh the joy!)

Question 4: How do you test out your stories? Or who do you test them on?

My first audience is my children (ages 10-22) as well as my husband (the technical genius behind my stories). They often get their friends involved as well.

Question 5: What was your favourite children’s book when you were a kid?

It pains me to admit it now (having revisited them as an adult) but it was the Nancy Drew mysteries. The writing is abysmal, but it obviously had an enormous influence on me: I’m now the one writing mystery stories starring teenage heroes.

Question 6: What is your favourite children’s book now?

Wow… there’s SO many children’s books I love. The Chronicle’s of Narnia rank high as does A Wrinkle in Time (and most of the rest of the series). I’ve been listening to an audiobook of Watership Down recently and thoroughly loving it. Part of me would love to write more literary children’s fiction (that’s why I can’t resist sneaking in the literary/historical allusions in my own writing… though I try to hide them).

Question 7: Have you ever travelled overseas as an author?

I officially became an author overseas (Aussie is overseas for me). I’ve certainly travelled a good deal as a “writer/marketer” including the US (no biggie when you’re Canadian), Europe and Japan. I’d love to travel to them as an author some day.

Question 8: Have you met anyone even more famous than you that was exciting?

Being in an adjunct of the film industry you meet lots of famous people… but not authors so much. I was once cc’d on an email to Bill Gates (when I worked for Microsoft) and was jazzed about that for about a month. I’ve met and worked with Academy-Award winning technology makers (including my husband… though we’ve misplaced Oscar at the moment). I’ve been in the same room as starlets (like Kate Hudson) and danced onstage with Smash Mouth (long story… don’t ask). Still, the people who have made the greatest impression on me have been the quiet, faithful men and women of God I’ve met over the years. They’ve got no blog, no books, no podcasts and yet, they have made a more profound impact on the people God has brought into their sphere than most of us.

Question 9: What do you consider your biggest achievement?

Natural child birth. That and keeping my children (especially Sean) alive into adulthood.

Question 10: What book are you reading right now?

The Long Winter (Little House on the Prairies series), Operation Foxtrot Five (deferred until I’ve done the first draft of my current story), Owls in the Family, and Teen Sex by the Book (goes with a workshop my husband and I give to teens). I actually try to stay away from my own genre (YA) when I’m writing because I know that I become very easily influenced by the writing styles I’m reading. Speaking of writing… gotta run.

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An interview with Debra Tidball

An interview with Debra Tidball

Question 1: What was the first story you ever wrote and was it published?

The first story I ever wrote was in primary school: The Old Grass Hut about a convict who escaped from Fort Denison and out swam two ravenous sharks across Sydney harbour to safety. Obviously not about to be published any time soon! But I still have the story in my keepsakes box – it’s an exercise book lovingly bound in brown paper and plastic, complete with hand drawn illustrations. I can still remember how it felt to write it, sitting on my bed excited as the ideas came and how clever I felt putting them into words for people to replay the story in their own minds.

Question 2: What is your favourite part about being an author?

My favourite part of being an author is that it’s all consuming – I get lost in the act of creating. Giving form to formless fragments of feelings or ideas is hugely exciting and gratifying when you get it just right.

Question 3: What is the hardest part of being an author?

The hours and the mind-space it takes to get it ‘just right’! I find it hard work to set aside the time free of looming distractions and then find the right way to say what’s floating formless around my head. I can’t just write in a spare half hour or so here and there. When I’m writing, it’s an all consuming quest for the story and the words to best convey it. It invades my head and leaves little space for anything else. So when I’m cooking dinner, or waiting in a queue, or driving the car – especially when I’m driving the car – I am constantly distracted by ideas and words and turns of phrase and similes etc. I need a pen and paper handy all the time  - I become hopeful that the traffic lights turn red because it’s not so safe to balance a paper and pen on the steering wheel while driving – although it has been done!

Question 4: What is your favourite way/time to read?

I prefer to read like I write – all or nothing. I find short bursts unsatisfying when all I really want to do is curl up on a comfy lounge or in bed with my book and with the hours of the day spread out before me. Nothing else gets done – cooking, washing, shopping, sleeping, nothing (apart from a mid afternoon doze). When they were little my children would groan when they saw me with a book because they knew it meant that they would be neglected for however long it took to finish. Now they are grown up they can cook and wash and shop for me while I sit on the lounge and read! Needless to say, most of my reading is done in the holidays.

Question 5: What’s your favourite genre?

I’m a sucker for good picture book – I’m a bookseller’s dream! I have to buy books that are beautiful, clever or funny and preferably Australian – not to read or give away to children, but to add to my collection. I love them.

I also love reading adult and young adult novels for pleasure and I’m happy to borrow them (although if something is especially memorable I have to own it). I went through a stage of listening to classics on CD in the car - it really made me look forward to the mundane drives to and from school or work.

Question 6: What’s your favourite children’s book?

As I child I loved the Beatrix Potter books and they still are one of my treasured collections. However it’s impossible to say an all time favourite. Of the most recent books I have bought:

The book that made me smile with the warmth of memories was Rudie Nudie by Emma Quay.

The book that made me laugh out loud was Nighty Night by Margaret Wild and Kerry Argent.

The book I thought was brilliant in the way it was written and illustrated and the quintessentially Australian story it told was Flood by Jackie French and Bruce Whatley.

Question 7: What book are you reading right now?

What books am I reading? I have several on the go at the moment.

The God of Small Things, by Arundhati Roy – I haven’t hit my stride with this one yet – there are too many interruptions, I should have waited for the holidays!

Heading Home, by Naomi Reed – easy to read in short bursts while I’m waiting - for a train, or a child, or the doctor etc. Thought provoking and uplifting.

Red, by Libby Gleeson.

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An interview with Aleesah Darlison

An interview with Aleesah Darlison

Hi, I’m Aleesah Darlison. I write picture books and novels for children. Being an author is the best job in the world. I love it!

Question 1: What was the first story you ever wrote and has it been published?

At the start of my career, I wrote lots of stories and many of them will never be published because they missed the mark. However, one of the first stories I did have published was There’s Magic at Pa’s. It appeared in a magazine called Little Ears, which was edited by Di Bates.

Question 2: What was your first book published?

A picture book called Puggle’s Problem, which was published by Wombat Books.

Question 3: What is your favourite part about being an author?

Being able to create characters and stories from ideas that come from inside my imagination then sharing them with other people.

Question 4:What is the hardest part about being an author?

Managing writing time with marketing time and family time. There’s never enough hours in the day.

Question 5: What do you do for fun?

Spend time with my family. Go to restaurants and eat yummy food. Make myself go to the gym for some ‘me’ time and some exercise.

Question 6: How do you test out your stories? Or who do you test them on?

By reading them out aloud, creating dummy books, sometimes reading them to my children, and running them by my agent or editor. Professional, third-party feedback is always the most valuable.

Question 7: What was your favourite children’s book when you were a kid?

The Lion, The Witch and The Wardrobe by C.S. Lewis.

Question 8: What is your favourite children’s book now?

I’m loving my new picture book, Little Meerkat, at the moment. It’s published by Wombat Books and illustrated by Shannon Melville who is doing an AWESOME job.

Question 9: Have you ever travelled overseas as an author?

Yes, I was a guest speaker at the Hong Kong International Literary Festival in 2011 and in 2012 I returned to Hong Kong to conduct school visits. I’m looking at going back there in 2014 and possibly also Singapore. Of course, I’m always willing to consider invitations from other countries, too…

Question 10: Have you met anyone even more famous than you that was exciting?

When I was first starting out as an author, I always got extremely nervous meeting well-known authors. My palms would get sweaty, my throat would constrict and I’d have trouble talking. I just admired those authors so much and thought I would never, ever be as famous or as successful as they were. Thank goodness my nerves and my confidence have improved and luckily I’ve enjoyed my own small successes so I’m not so bad anymore.

Question 11: What writing genre do you like to do the most?

That’s hard to say. I love writing picture books that feature animals and I love writing fantasy adventure for older children. It’s all good fun.

Question 12: What do you consider your biggest achievement?

Achieving publication and creating a career out of what I love doing most in the world.

Question 13: Where do you see the future of children’s books (ebooks/apps/print)?

I hope paper books are going to stick around for a long time to come, but with the way technology is going and how kids interact with the digital world, I think we will start to view and read more and more books on-screen.

Question 14: What is your favourite time to read?

Anytime is a good time to escape into a book. I’d read all day if I could. When I was a kid I used to get in trouble for reading so much.

Question 15: What book are you reading right now?

The Power of One (children’s version) by Bryce Courtenay.

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An interview with Lizbeth Klein

An interview with Lizbeth Klein

Hi, I’m Lizbeth Klein and my dream is to hide away from the world in some cave where I can write in relative peace and quiet. I mostly write YA fantasy but I do enjoy mysteries and sci-fi, too. I live in Sydney with my husband, but I would love a forest change. 

Question 1: What is your favourite part about being an author?

Being able to create amazing worlds, incredible characters and great adventures.

Question 2: What is the hardest part about being an author?

The hardest part about being an author is finding the time to write when I’m not falling asleep at the keyboard. Working a split shift 6 days a week is really difficult. Holidays are precious and I seem to achieve a lot then.

Question 3: What do you do for fun?

Sadly, there’s not much time in between for fun at present, but I do like to grab a takeaway lunch and my poor neglected husband and I go and sit beside the sea. Then we might go for a walk or a drive. Watching a good movie is also fun. 

Question 4: What writing genre do you like to do the most?

The genre I prefer above others is YA fantasy.

Question 5: What do you consider your biggest achievement?

Getting published—finally! It always seemed out of reach, a bit like the moon.

Question 6: What is your favourite time to read?

Probably Sundays when I’m all alone.

Question 7: What book are you reading right now?

Trying to get through The Hobbit again. Really enjoy Tolkein.

 

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An interview with Robert Vescio

An interview with Robert Vescio

There’s something you should know about me and that is I like to talk about my books, but I don’t enjoy talking about myself.

I started writing children’s stories about five years ago but I’ve always enjoyed writing, even way back in high school.

It wasn’t until I left fulltime work in 2007, to become a stay-at-home dad, that I began to take writing more seriously. I had a great excuse to spend hours in the children’s section of bookstores. The love of reading books made it all the more easier for me to delve into the world of picture book writing. Also, having my own children helped as well. All I had to do was to observe them and the ideas started rolling in.

I enjoy writing stories and sharing my passion with children of all ages. All I want is for my stories to be read, like all aspiring and emerging writers, and to inspire and educate children. If I can change one child through my writing, then I’ve fulfilled my calling.

I love to read and I’m a self-confessed hoarder of books, especially children’s books.

Question 1: What is your favourite part about being an author?

I consider myself a storyteller because I love to spin a good yarn! All I want to do is to share my stories with children. As an author, I want to inspire, encourage and challenge children to dream big and to believe in themselves.

Question 2: What is the hardest part about being an author?

Finding a publisher who wants to publish my stories.

Question 3: What do you do for fun?

I love spending time with my children, who are an endless source of humour and inspiration. Together, we enjoy watching movies and eating popcorn.

Question 4: What was your favourite children’s book when you were a kid?

The Very Hungry Caterpillar. And now it’s one of my children’s favourite, along with their daddy’s books, of course! Also, I grew up reading The Chronicles of Narnia – The Lion, the Witch and the Wardrobe is my favourite. And the Harry Potter series.

Question 5: What is your favourite children’s book now?

Lost and Found. I love all of Oliver Jeffers picture books. He is, in my mind, the master of picture books.

Question 6: Have you met anyone even more famous than you that was exciting?

Bryan Adams – singer turned photographer. It was when I was working as a Photo Editor for a magazine publishing company. Bryan Adams submitted to me a photo shoot of Kate Moss for our consideration for publication. I loved the photo shoot and accepted Bryan’s work for publication. When Bryan Adams was on tour here in Australia, he called me and asked if I would like to have lunch with him at Circular Quay in Sydney as a thank you for publishing his work. I didn’t need too much convincing. I asked my editor to join us. It was an amazing experience and NO he doesn’t have a husky voice. Bryan Adams was so down to earth and easy to talk to. Overall, Bryan Adams was a really nice guy!

Question 7: What writing genre do you like to do the most?

Picture Books. I love picture books and the way they express emotions and ideas in simple ways.

Question 8: What book are you reading right now?

The Twilight series. I always love a good book I can sink my teeth into. Yes, I’ve seen all the movies but I’ve never read the books. 

 

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