It’s always exciting when you get those first advance copies of a new book–it’s a magic moment when you get to hold the real-life book in your hands! This week, copies of my new book with the wonderful illustrator Lorena Carrington, Secrets of the Good Fairy House, arrived at my place and to say I was delighted with how it looks is an understatement 🙂 It is truly gorgeous, in fact!
Here’s the blurb:
Secrets of the Good Fairy House is a unique exploration of how a beloved childhood house can grant not only a treasury of rich memories, but also spark imaginative childhood adventures, and future creative inspiration. Created by award-winning author Sophie Masson and acclaimed illustrator Lorena Carrington, this beautiful book is an interwoven mix of memoir and fiction in both text and images, taking you on a fascinating journey into a very special magic.
The book is published by our very own ‘tiny press’, Pardalote Press, and distributed nationwide through Peribo, so you can buy or order it from any bookshop. It will be officially out in June.
(by the way, the framed photo in the pic below is of the ‘good fairy house’ of my childhood in France, which was the inspiration for my part of the book)
I’m heading off to Sydney in a couple of days, and one of the highlights will be the official in person launch of Satin, next Tuesday, March 14, at 4pm at the gorgeous Better Read than Dead bookshop in Newton. Lorena and I will both be there, to read from and talk about the book, sign books, and meet readers! Everyone is very welcome, we’d love to see you there! It’s a free event but the bookshop would appreciate it if people can register if possible(though of course you can also just turn up, if you run out of time) Here’s the registration link.
We’ll also be celebrating Satin through school visits, organised by the wonderful people at The Children’s Bookshop. And calling into city bookshops to say hi. It’s going to be a great week!
And those reviews just keep coming–we had another couple of lovely ones very recently, here and here. Seems readers are really taking Satin to their hearts, which warms our hearts, too…
Today is a special day: the official publication of Satin. Yes, the book is now out in the world and Lorena and I are celebrating–and looking forward to the official launch in Sydney on March 14 (all welcome! ) And to mark today, here’s a beautiful review we received only yesterday, from Sydney teacher-librarian Judy Rachwani:
This book is beyond breathtaking. An abundance of concepts that most probably every single person has dealt with or is dealing with can be seen, heard and felt within the deep meanings of the words and the incredible visual images that reflect those meanings. There are concepts of solidarity, loneliness, uniqueness, longing, accumulation of sadness, the importance of contribution and the beauty of the sweet human connection and more.
I truly am finding difficulties using words that give this author and illustrator justice to their in-depth, meaningful and intriguing artful work that has been reflected and processed within this work.
As a reader, this book moved me immensely and took me into the depths of feeling the ‘blues’ but in a very different way. As a teacher, I found it a great resource for the students (upper primary/highschool) to unlock and discuss emotions such as loneliness and longing for connection but also not being aware of that need to connect, the beauty of the connection, being unique and realising the importance of one’s uniqueness to the community around.
Highly recommended for wellbeing discussions, visual literacy and for story telling time too!
Thank you so much, Judy! We are so happy our book is already finding its way into readers’ hearts…
Thank you so much to our wonderful publisher, Anna Solding of MidnightSun Publishing, for loving and believing in this book from the start. And thank you to the wonderful MidnightSun Publishing team, and to everyone who has helped bring our very special Satin into the world.
In this lovely post, Lorena writes about how she created the stunning visual world of the book.
When Sophie asked if I was interested in working on Satin with her, she had barely finished her sentence before I said yes! I love working with her, and the story sounded so beautiful and intriguing. I also immediately had wonderful visions of all that blue… And it perfectly combined two things I’d worked with before. Some of my earliest montage work included shards of willow pattern plates, and I had also been doing a lot of work with cyanotypes, an early photographic process that has the most glorious blue emulsion. And the fact that Satin gathers objects to create his beautiful thing is exactly how I work too! It was perfect.
These are the first sample images I made for Satin, which we sent as part of our book proposal to the wonderful Anna at MidnightSun. They remain essentially unchanged in the final book, though you maybe be able to spot a few differences in the versions of the first image. As you can see, they are built up with layers of photographic images: the buildings, the silhouetted foreground landscape and figure, the bird, distant trees and the full moon against the misty sky… The pair underneath are more painterly. The elements are still photographic, but they are layered over a rich wash of painted cyanotype, giving a textured deep blue.
And here they are in the book:
You’ll find many shards of blue china in Satin, many featuring the famous Willow pattern. Some of my earliest montage artworks were based around that same pattern. The images were made from shards of china I found in my backyard and the local landscape, and the landscapes themselves. Creating the illustrations for Satin felt like a delightful full-circle return to my early work. Here are three examples from around 2009.
The other slightly different element I’ve introduced to these illustrations, are splashes of painterly blue. The ‘paint’ is actually created with cyanotype chemistry, which is painted onto paper, and them exposed in the sun to create a rich blue. It’s wonderful cross between painting and photography, and lets you combine the two in wonderful ways. On this illustration spread, I’ve painted the splotches of blue, and digitally inserted the photographic elements.
I felt such an immediate affinity for Satin. He explores his surroundings, looking for interesting things, so that he can make something beautiful, which is exactly how I work, and Sophie’s extraordinarily beautiful prose made Satin such a pleasure to work on. I really hope you find inspiration and beauty in it too.
In just ten days or so, Satin, my picture book with Lorena Carrington, will be released by MidnightSun Publishing. And in anticipation of that, Lorena and I thought you might be interested to read about how the book came about, and what the process of creating it was like. Today, I’m talking about my side of it, how the text came into being, in one of those amazing, inspirational moments that are such a blessing in a writer’s life…
In May 2021, my husband David and I were travelling by car from our home in northern NSW on our way to attend the Bendigo Writers’ Festival in Victoria, a two-day journey from our place. It was somewhere on the road before we reached the town of West Wyalong that I suddenly glimpsed, on the side of the road, a bird with satiny, very dark blue plumage. Though I saw it for just an instant as we flashed past, I knew at once what it was—a male satin bowerbird. But what was it doing there, all by itself? Satin bowerbirds are shy, it’s not easy to see them, and they certainly don’t make a habit of hanging around near roads! I knew they like to collect blue things to decorate their nests: so had it spotted a special blue there?
In that moment, something else flashed into my mind, a title: Satin. I could see a character: a lonely young man, or was he a bird? Or both? Words began to flow onto my small travel notebook (I wasn’t driving of course!) By the time we reached West Wyalong where we were to stay overnight, I already had the glimmer of an idea for a special picture book text, and by the time we got to Bendigo the next day, that idea had firmed up.
When I met up with my friend Lorena Carrington in Bendigo, I excitedly told her about it. Lorena’s a wonderful illustrator and she and I had already worked on two books together, retellings of French fairy tales and medieval French Arthurian stories, and that had been a wonderful collaborative experience. I was very much hoping she might be interested in the idea of Satin—and to my delight, she was, at once! We started talking about how it might work: usually for a picture book you don’t have writer and illustrator together at the start, usually the writer sends in a text and the publisher then chooses the illustrator. But we just knew this book had to be with the two of us. And I had an idea who perhaps might be interested in such an unusual book…
After getting back home, I worked on the story, first in my bigger usual notebook, and then on the computer.
I then sent it to Lorena, who created some gorgeous sample illustrations. And then I contacted the wonderful Anna Solding at MidnightSun Publishing and told her about the book. She loved the idea and immediately wanted to see what we’d done. So we sent the text and the samples—and within a week, she got in touch. The MidnightSun Publishing team loved it and wanted to publish it. So exciting! And as we worked with the wonderful people at MidnightSun, and Satin’s world came to brilliant life in Lorena’s spellbindingly beautiful illustrations, I kept thinking of that moment when I unexpectedly glimpsed a shy blue-loving satiny bird by the side of the road. Pure magic, that’s what it felt like: and pure magic to see it developing into such a very beautiful, very special book.
I am so looking forward to the publication next year of Satin, my forthcoming picture book with the wonderful illustrator Lorena Carrington, to be published by MidnightSun Publishing in March 2023. I am really excited about this book, which came about in the most magical way (which I’ll write about in another post, later), and which I think is going to be just loved by both children and adults.
Here’s the gorgeous cover:
And here’s the blurb:
Every morning early, when no-one’s about, Satin slips out of the forest and walks along the sleepy sunrise streets, looking for blue…
He’s collected all kinds of blues, from all kinds of places. He’s making something beautiful, with all those blues. But something’s missing, and he doesn’t know what it is. And then, one day, he comes to a street he’s never been in before. And what he finds there will change his lonely life forever.
A beautiful, haunting fable by award-winning writer Sophie Masson and acclaimed illustrator Lorena Carrington.
Lorena’s exquisite, superb creation of Satin’s visual world is just stunning in its depth and beauty, conveying a mix of natural enchantment and human warmth which goes right to the heart of the story. (Below is a sneak peek at the first page spread)
I am so happy that Lorena is co-creator with me on this gorgeous book, and so happy too that it was taken on by such a wonderful publisher as Anna Solding of Midnight Sun.
We were excited to receive our sample pack of Wayfarer cards yesterday, for our Pardalote Press launch. Here’s a little video of how they look. And sound! They have best swish/thwack as you shuffle them, and they feel so lovely with their silk laminate.
We have five days left of crowdfunding, so head over to Indiegogo, if top quality story-telling, poem-forming, magic-image-making cards are your thing!
Yay! Today is publication day for Four Up In Lights, the third and final book in a little series I created with illustrator Cheryl Orsini, about the adventures of four friends who happen to be vintage vehicles! Published by Christmas Press, Four Up In Lights follows on from Four All At Sea(2021) and Four On the Run(2020) and were huge fun to write.
Here’s hoping the four friends’ final adventure finds many many readers, as the earlier books have done! And cheers to Maxie, Fergie, Lady and Flash, four fabulous characters who drove their way into my imagination quite a while ago–and who have been brought to such fantastic visual life by the wonderful Cheryl Orsini!
Four Up In Lights is available from any bookshop around Australia, as are the earlier two books. And you can find a fun little trailer for Four Up In Lightshere.
Exciting news! The wonderful illustrator Lorena Carrington and I have established Pardalote Press, a tiny Press making small surprising things. We’ve launched a crowdfunding campaign this morning to support our first two projects, Bird’s Eye View and Wayfarer. Bird’s Eye View is a chapbook of words—poetry and prose—and black and white images, which together form glimpses into the world of birds, and the world as seen by birds. Wayfarer is a unique set of sixteen beautiful full colour cards which in words and pictures take you on a journey of mystery, magic and meaning.
You can learn more about the Press and our first two projects on our website, and social media: Facebook and Instagram. There’s also a great little news item about it at Books+Publishing. And here below are a few words from Lorena and I, extracted from that article, as to why we started Pardalote Press:
It was in fact a mock medieval bestiary—published as an appendix to our joint book Magical Tales from French Camelot—which first made us think of the idea of working on unusual little projects. We started with the idea of Bird’s Eye View, and then, later, came the idea for Wayfarer.
We knew these were a bit too left-field to fit into mainstream publishing lists, so decided to create our own tiny press to produce them and other things we might come up with.
So–do check us out, have a look, and if you are interested, we would be very grateful for your support in the launch of this tiny press making small surprising things to help the imagination take flight!