Thesis submission day today!

Back in August 2015, I embarked on a challenging and exciting journey: undertaking a PhD. My PhD is in the area of Creative Practice–that is, it contained both a creative part(in my case, a young adult novel) and an academic/analytical part(an exegesis). For those who are interested, the novel is called The Ghost Squad, and it’s a genre-crossing mix of thriller, detective fiction, ghost story, fantasy and philosophical exploration, while the exegesis is an examination of the very interesting sub-genre of young adult afterlife fiction(that is, fiction set in or about the afterlife–not religious narratives, but a sub-genre of speculative fiction).

Three years of stimulating, hard-working, satisfying years of research, study and writing later, and I have come to that milestone day: the day I officially submit my thesis(which comprises the novel and the exegesis). It feels amazing. It feels odd. I am relieved I made it; yet also feel a little sad that it’s over. Even though of course there were one or two hiccups along the way, by and large it has been an absolutely charmed experience. I am immensely grateful to have had such fantastic support, guidance, encouragement, attention to detail and collegial warmth from my supervisors and others at the university generally; immensely grateful to the journal editors and conference organisers who saw value in the work I was doing; immensely grateful for the loving support and interest of my family, especially my husband David. And immensely grateful to have had that wonderful amount of time not only to really concentrate on my novel, a challenging novel I had wanted to write for a long time yet never had the sustained opportunity to do so, but also to discover a whole new area(at least new to me!) of young adult fiction which I have found so satisfying to explore. And the fact that no-one else had ever written about this area in a sustained and substantive way was another bonus, in that I could break new ground.

It isn’t quite over yet, of course; the examiners still have to assess the thesis and give their verdict, which won’t happen for at least several more weeks yet. But three years down the track, at that important milestone, I can say that not only do I have no regrets of any kind, but I am amazed and delighted by my great good fortune in what has been an important and deeply satisfying journey.

 

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Great review of See Monkey in Reading Time

Lovely to see a great review of See Monkey in the latest edition of Reading Time, the online journal of the Children’s Book Council of Australia!

Here’s an extract:

This story captures the essence of toddlerhood. From the moment eyes open antics ensue with toddler and his favourite toy Monkey playing, eating, dancing, and mischief making their way throughout the day. All before heading back to the comfort of bed before beginning their adventures together again tomorrow.

I can definitely relate to the chaos of toddler and Monkey’s day. Having boys of my own I understand the pandemonium which surrounds their days as they investigate, play, learn and explore their world.

The illustrations are bright and representative of childhood; whether that is the fun and adventures of the children, or the busy and sometimes chaotic perspective of the parents, siblings and neighbours.

You can read the whole review here.

Pitch Independent a fantastic success!

As one of the three co-ordinators for the New England Writers’ Centre’s big Pitch Independent program, I am happy to report that it was a brilliant success! The prep day two weeks ago went really well, with lots of people getting advice and practising their pitches in front of local publishing professionals. And last weekend, we hosted a fantastic lineup of some of Australia’s best small and independent book publishers and literary magazine editors, who participated in a lively and engaging symposium, heard lots of one-on-one pitches from writers in all genres as well as illustrators, and generally gave generously, and warmly, of their time, knowledge and expertise.

It was an inspiring, creative and fun weekend, and we are so grateful to all who participated–publishers, editors, pitchers, presenters, attendees, and University of New England staff and students. All of our participating publishers and editors came from a long way away, in some cases a very long way, from Western Australia, South Australia, and Victoria as well as various locations in NSW, and we are so very appreciative that they were willing to travel to our region. Thanks very much to all the people who supported Pitch Independent by attending the symposium, and/or pitching their work–we know it takes courage and we salute you for it, hope you felt encouraged, and wish you the very best for your work, whatever the outcome of your pitch. Big thanks goes to UNE for their generous and major support of the event, financially, promotionally and with venues; to the Small Press Network for its kind support and encouragement–and to SPN Chair Michael Webster for making the long trek from Melbourne to speak at the Symposium–and to the Armidale Bowling Club for sponsoring the great  venue for Saturday’s big pitch day. And of course huge thanks to the New England Writers’ Centre and all my fellow Board members who supported the creation of this event in so many ways. And to my fellow co-ordinators, John C.Ryan and Catherine Wright–hurrah! We made it! And it worked so well, worth all the hard work and all that midnight oil we burned 🙂

Pitch Independent was a unique event–nothing like it, with its focus on bringing creators and small and independent press and literary magazines together–has ever, to or knowledge, been held in Australia before. And the response has been amazing, from all, publishers, editors, pitchers, and attendees alike. It was a massive amount of work, but I am so proud to have been involved in initiating an event that we think people will be speaking about for a long time, and which will have a significant impact. We intend to continue building on the fantastic momentum created by Pitch Independent–watch this space!

Another lovely review of See Monkey

At See Monkey launch: me and illustrator Kathy Creamer reading the book aloud.

There’s a lovely review of See Monkey, as well as of another recent picture book published by Little Pink Dog Books(Ziggy’s Zoo, by Pat Simmons and Vicky Pratt) on the Just Write For Kids blog. Here are some short extracts:

Sophie Masson brilliantly targets the toddler market with her short, sharp sentences and witty ‘monkey tricks’ – absolutely reflective of the typical cheeky toddler / monkey behaviours. Kathy Creamer befittingly brings her characters to life with superb colour, high action and the liveliest of expressions….

See Monkey is a spirited blend of childhood freedom, pushing the boundaries and simply having some imaginative fun, with the gentlest of guidance and restraint to acknowledge the consequences of boisterous actions. Plenty of excitement and laughter for children from age two.

You can read the whole of the review of See Monkey, as well as the review of Ziggy’s Zoo, here.

 

Nice review for See Monkey in Buzz Words

A very nice review for See Monkey has appeared in Buzz Words.

Here’s a short extract:

What a day! Follow Toddler and his favourite toy through their busy day and all the fun adventures and mischief they get up to. Parents with toddlers will relate to some of these amusing situations of these energetic adventures and after-fun clean-ups.

See Monkey is a children’s picture book for children of ages 3 – 7 years. The themes are universal, and it is a good read for families with babies and young children. The lively and colourful illustrations will capture the minds of a young audience.

You can read the whole review here.

 

Frosty School Morning

Simone Hale’s prize-winning interpretation of Frosty School Morning

It’s winter in New England, and a classic winter it is too, with hard cold nights and frosty mornings shading into crisp bright blue crystalline days. This morning it was minus 8.6 degrees, yesterday morning minus 7 degrees, and frost shines everywhere. The poem below poem is inspired by those frosty mornings, and by the experience of New England children who live out of town and have to catch  the bus to school. (The school bus stop is just down the road from our place.) I wrote the poem four years ago on commission from the New England Conservatorium of Music, who wanted three poems about children’s experiences of New England to set to music for the tenth anniversary of the major choral event, New England Sings. It was fantastic to hear it as a song–and then two years later, in 2016, I had the honour of having it chosen as the centrepiece for the inaugural New England Illustration Prize, which was won by the wonderful local artist Simone Hale(it’s her interpretation of her poem you can see above).

Frosty School Morning

by Sophie Masson

 

Walking to the bus stop on a frosty morning,

Crackles of grass like toffee crunches.

Kangaroo joey hops with her mother,

Maybe it’s a school day for them too.

 

Waiting for the bus on an icy morning,

Blowing in my hands to keep them warm,

Here come my friends, running late as usual,

Kookaburra laughs to see them go.

 

Riding on the bus on a winter morning,

Bumping along on the road to town.

Sitting with my friends on the slippery seats,

We write our names in the mist on the glass.

 

 

Such fun in poetry creation workshops for children!

Recently I ran two poetry workshops for children 6-12 years old in my hometown public library. They were sequential workshops: in the first one, I talked about writing poetry, based on the gorgeous book A Boat of Stars, in which I have 7 poems–and talked about how  ideas from poetry can come from anywhere, then we orally created a (rather silly!) poem together, and then everyone chose their own subject and wrote their own poem. In the second workshop, I talked about how you can illustrate and decorate a poem to create an artwork out of it in all kinds of ways(again, that was inspired by A Boat of Stars!) And then the kids set to and created their own poem artwork, based on the poem they had written the previous week. The library had provided lots of coloured pencils and pens, stickers, magazine pictures to cut out, coloured shapes and paper and more. Everyone had a lot of fun and there were some amazing creations–have a look at the photo gallery!