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“Books Are Fun”
Children’s Book Festival 2011, Family Day 3rd April 2011, 10.00am to 4.00pm
State Library of Victoria and the Wheeler Centre
This free programme of ‘events’ over the Sunday was hugely popular. It was described as “the biggest celebration of children’s books that Melbourne has ever seen”. Families and children’s book lovers crammed into venues to hear a wonderful assemblage of Australia’s leading authors and illustrators. They queued for meter after meter to meet authors and illustrators and have their load of precious books signed. They waited for hours to be able to get into workshops, storytelling and performances.
The ‘Family Day’ was the brainchild of the State Library of Victoria and the Wheeler Centre who held, coordinated and promoted the various sessions. Authors and illustrators were fully utilised, most doing at least two events on the programme. [http://wheelercentre.com/static/files/assets/087ddc27/CBW_Childrensbooks_A4programme-DR7.pdf ]
Some notes from the day:
John Nicholson/Roland Harvey interview with SLV staffer
John Nicholson (architect) – author and illustrator
John started writing fiction. His publisher suggested he write non-fiction.
Working with A&U – John has an idea and approaches them with it or they have an idea and approach John. At one stage they seemed to take a turn about with this process. He now just develops ‘the ideas I want to’. He prefers to work alone now.
John agreed with Roland, in creating an authentic “Sense of place” it was important, if at all possible, to do the research for the text and images on location.
Roland Harvey (architect) author and illustrator
History was something that always fascinated him and which initially led him to writing and illustrating books.
Family activities have inspired some of his books – “At the Beach” and ‘To the Top End”. “You need to know, to “feel” the place you are writing about. To research you should “be there to be really successful”. Otherwise ther is the internet but Roland considered this sort of research “much harder” in trying to create a real sense of ‘place’.
He collaborates a lot. His latest book is a collaboration with Mem Fox which was launched at the Family Day. He doesn’t publish any more and mainly works with Penguin and A&U. He liked the freedom he had as publisher. He surrounded himself with experts in each area. He found his best books were done “against the advice of others”. It was risky but he LOVED the freedom to do what he was passionate about.
His next project is another picture book based on family travels. He is also avidly exploring Apps and is excited about this development in children’s books.
Terry Denton/Chris Morpeth interview with SLV staffer
Terry Denton author/illustrator
The place where I like to write/draw:
I have a studio in my backyard. It is quiet, no distractions.
“Gasp” is my favourite of my creations.
Denton and Andy Griffith go away for a week together when working on a new joint project to ‘get it started’.
Chris Morpeth (former teacher) author
The place where I like to write:
In a café over coffee – there are no distractions. At home, I get distracted with Nintendo and Mario. I make my stories up as I go along. I think the more you do the better you get.
Terry & Chris agreed re book writing/creation, “If it is too organised, it doesn’t work!”
Leigh Hobbs interview with SLV staffer
Leigh Hobbs (former teacher) author/interviewer
His first version of ‘Old Tom’ was rejected. This version had an angrier look and smoked a cigar. The next version, accepted, was more humorous and sly. Leigh draws the pictures for his books first as he has his ‘run of ideas’. Then he ”works“ to finish the book. He felt he wrote books of the sort he liked a a kid. He loved Enid Blyton, Treasure Island.
A lesson he learnt early, was that children want “Mums” kept within certain parameters, e.g. Old Tom’s ‘Mum’, Angela Throgmorton.