First advance copy of A House of Mud!

I am one very lucky author: last month I got my beautiful first advance copy of The Snowman’s Wish, my picture book with Ronak Taher, to be published by Dirt Lane Press in July. And today, I got my gorgeous first advance copy of A House of Mud, my picture book with Katrina Fisher, to be published by Little Pink Dog Books in August!  (The book can also be pre-ordered at that link).

A House of Mud is a gorgeous production, with lively, warm and characterful illustrations by the very talented Katrina Fisher and fabulous design and layout by the wonderful team at Little Pink Dog Books. It’s very special too because the story is based on our own real-life experience years ago of building our beautiful mudbrick house near Armidale in northern NSW—an experience which included the lively involvement of our young children—and our family dog, Tess!
Seeing A House of Mud become a picture book has long been a dream of mine and I am delighted  to hold it in my hands at last, and turn its pages while still living in the very same lovely hand-made house that inspired it!

Below you can see some of the wonderful internal pages–includes some great endpapers for which Katrina used photos of some of David’s actual plans for the house!

 

That moment when you write: The End

Yes: THAT moment! Every writer knows what it’s like, when you’ve worked on a novel for months and months, maybe even years, and finally you get to a point where you know, you just know, everything’s worked, all the strands have been woven in satisfactorily, your work for the moment is done–and you can write THE END! Even though I take out those words before I send the ms off to my agent, I do find it satisfying to type them in before that, as I actually finish, just for the sheer, if maybe childish 🙂 pleasure of seeing it there in black and white, even for a moment.

And with this particular novel I’ve just finished, it was even sweeter to do that. In a post last month for the international writing blog Writer Unboxed, I wrote about the difficulties I was having in finishing this novel, in these very ‘singular times’. Although it was literally almost finished–I had just written the second-last chapter- when the pandemic shutdown first started really making an impact on our lives here in Australia, back in mid-March, the novel just came to a stuttering halt and for weeks and weeks I just couldn’t bring myself to even go near it. It’s an adult novel this time, a multi-POV narrative with many enjoyable twists and turns, set in France, with both Australian and French characters, and I’d loved writing it up till that time. Coming to a stuttering halt wasn’t an experience I’d had before, not at this point in a novel, anyway–normally, when I get so close to the end, there’s no way I want to stop. But the turmoil of feelings brought on by the situation we were all so suddenly in had led to a lack of purpose, a sense of irrelevance, which made it pretty much impossible to finish the novel, try as I might. In the end I just laid it aside and worked on other things, as I describe in that Writer Unboxed post–creative activities to put online, journals, bits and bobs of all sorts. Slowly, doing that began to change things–and by the time I wrote the Writer Unboxed post in mid-May, I had gone back to the novel, advancing again, albeit much slower than I was used to. And then, just a few days later, suddenly, the ‘oomph’ for the novel came back, I knew exactly how to finish, and for days after I wrote and rewrote the last chapter and the epilogue and went back over the novel, carefully. Until yesterday, the first day of a new month, the first day of winter, when, filled with more than the usual exhilaration, I finally typed those magic words: THE END!

 

 

I’ll be part of the lineup for CBCA Lunchtime Storytime next week

I’m delighted to announce that I’ll be part of the lineup next week for the fabulous CBCA NSW Branch Lunchtime Storytime readings on Facebook. I’ll be reading Once Upon An ABC, my picture book with illustrator Christopher Nielsen(Little Hare) and though I’m a bit nervous about it, I’m really looking forward to it! Tune in at the CBCA NSW Facebook page on Friday June 5 at 12pm to hear my reading live: but if you miss that, the video will also be available for later viewing on the page or on the CBCA NSW website. (Availability ends by July 31).

And check out all the other great authors and illustrators who will participate that week too, as well as those who took part in the weeks before.

 

A reading of See Monkey at United Publishers of Armidale

The busy day of a toddler and his favourite toy as they get up to all sorts of cheerful mayhem: that’s the story of See Monkey, my picture book with the fabulous illustrator Kathy Creamer, which was published by Little Pink Dog Books in 2018. And now it’s also a featured book on the new United Publishers of Armidale website, and you can watch and listen to a recent video reading I did of it right here. Enjoy!

Celebrating new books in troublesome times 11: June Perkins

Today, I’m delighted to welcome June Perkins to my blog. June’s new book, Illuminations, which is a collaboration between her as a writer and illustrators Ruha and Minaira Fifita, comes out early next month, and in this guest post, June writes about the process of creating Hope, one of the poems from the collection, which is reproduced below.

 

Writing ‘Hope’ for Illuminations – June Perkins

My poem ‘Hope’ is a speculative imagining of how Emily Dickinson would respond to Cyclone Yasi if she had been a poet based in Far North Queensland and draws particular inspiration from her work 314, often titled ‘Hope’ although she didn’t give it a title.

I first heard of  Dickinson from a vinyl record, Parsley, Sage Rosemary and Thyme by Simon and Garfunkel, the song was’ The Dangling Conversation’ And yet it was years before I took the time to learn more about her poetry and life.

After Cyclone Yasi in 2011, I began to compose poetry in response to both its damage, and the way people and nature fared in its aftermath. Living in Far North Queensland in a rural community, I became acutely aware of birds – king fishers, cassowaries, curlews and more. We had a pet bird, Peep, who amused us and helped us keep calm during the cyclone.  He disappeared briefly to spend time with other birds before returning with all of them in tow as if we could put them all up in the house.  He died a few days after of shock.  I took solace in Dickinson’s poems.  I was particularly drawn to 314 because it speaks of hope as if it has feathers like a bird.

The poem used to live on my blog, but in recent times, joined part of the working collection for Illuminations and it made the final cut for the book. The poem fits well with the overall themes of the collection and picks up on the symbolism of birds. Over the last few years, since our move to Brisbane, the  poem has come to mean much more to me than a response to a cyclone’s aftermath, and an expression of respect to Emily Dickinson; it represents that wider theme of how poets can through their creativity bring hope to any situation including a pandemic.

 

More about Illuminations:

Author: June Perkins

Illustrators: Ruha and Minaira Fifita

ISBN: 9780980731194 (paperback)

ISBN: 9780648720508 (hard cover, dustcover)

Publication Date: 20/6/2020

80 pages

This collection captures the wonder of the act of creation, the burst of excitement associated with the birth of the new, and the challenges and sacrifice involved in bringing inspiration to fruition. Reflecting on the impact of the challenge of the new, in both the material and spiritual worlds, several of the poems refer to the advent of the Báb, the 19th century Prophetic figure, whose contemporary message inspired and challenged a sacrificial response on the part of those who embraced His Cause.

You can pre-order Illuminations here. The book is available for pre-order in Australia, New Zealand, the US, UK and Canada.

About the author:

Dr June Perkins is a multi-arts creative born to a Papua New Guinean Indigenous mother and Australian father. She was raised in Tasmania as a Bahá’i and combines poetry, blogging, photography, story and more to explore themes interesting her – peace, ecology, spirituality, cultural diversity, resilience and empowerment. Earlier poetry book is, Magic Fish Dreaming (2016). June has had poems published in Nineteen Months, Tokens, Voices in the North, Under One Sky, Etchings, Cracks in the Canopy, World Order, Spooktacular Stories, Creative Kids Tales, Story Collection 2, Writing the Pacific, ABC Open, The Queensland Art Galley, Ridvan is Everywhere,  and Talking Ink from Ochre.

About Illustrators Fifita Sisters / IVI Designs

 Ruha Fifita was born in Vava’u, Tonga and spent most of her life immersed in the culture and vibrancy of life in the Pacific. Her love for visual and performative forms of expression have been nurtured through the support and encouragement of her extended family and study of the writings of the Bahá’i Faith.

Minaira Fifita is a visual and performing artist whose work aspires to reflect her love of creation and faith in the unity of humanity. Her style of creativity blends together her Polynesian and Celtic roots and experiences of vibrancy, balance and harmony within the Pacific and her spiritual beliefs as a Bahá’i.

L to R: June Perkins, Ruha Fifita, Minaira Fifita

 

 

 

Very pleased to be part of Where Happiness Hides project

I’m very pleased to be part of an amazing project by Dirt Lane Press: the virtual, world-wide, multi-language book drop of Where Happiness Hides, a picture book by Anthony Bertini and Jennifer Goldsmith, a lovely exploration in words and picture of the happiness to be found in small things. It’s freely available, and aimed at, as Dirt Lane Press say, ‘anyone and everyone caught up, locked down, worn out or done in by the present COVID pandemic’ . There will be dozens of languages in which  the book will be available, and I was privileged to be asked to be the French translator for the book. Really pleased too that my beautiful daughter in law Ameneh Sadeghpour is doing the Farsi translation and my lovely friend Anna Popova has done the Russian translation.

Where Happiness Hides is now freely downloadable as a beautiful flipbook for children and adults. There are already several languages available on the Where Happiness Hides site, including my French translation, and Anna’s Russian one. More languages will be available soon.

You can also check out the English original here.

Pleased to be part of this great lineup of presenters on South Coast Writers Centre program

I’m very pleased to announce that I’m part of the presenters for a brand new program of online writing workshops offered by the South Coast Writers’ Centre. The program will begin in late May and run  for several months.

My workshops are about writing for children, with each 2-hour session focussed around a particular area: the first session around picturebooks; the second on writing children’s fiction; the third on writing YA fiction. They will be held over three weeks in June and early July, and are open to writers right across Australia, at any stage of their careers. More info and how to book for my workshops soon!

There are already however great workshops by other presenters which you can book for right now, check it all out here.