Tuesday Writing Tips – Somebody’s House – Writing and Illustrating a Picture Book

Today I’m pleased to welcome talented author, Katrina Germein and amazing illustrator, Anthea Stead to my blog.

To celebrate their new book, Somebody’s House, Katrina and Anthea have dropped in and generously agreed to share their tips on how they created their vibrant new story. And I’ll be reviewing it at the end of this post.


Katrina Germein is a best-selling Australian picture book author, published worldwide.

Her popular picture book, My Dad Thinks He’s Funny, was Highly Commended in the Prime Minister’s Literary Awards.

The sequel, My Dad STILL Thinks He’s Funny, will be published in 2013. Katrina’s work has been featured on children’s television programs such as Wurrawhy, Yamba’s Playtime and Play School and several of her titles have won Notable Book commendations from The Children’s Book Council of Australia.

Here are Katrina’s tips on picture book writing:

1.  Don’t force a story. Write the story that’s dancing around your head when you’re doing the dishes or stopped at the traffic lights. Write the story that’s desperate to be written. (The story that is still shadowy will reveal itself when it’s ready.)

2.  Make it shorter. Your first draft is too long. Even if your first draft is short it’s still too long. Give it time to settle and then you’ll be able to see where you can tighten your manuscript.

3.  Ignore people who don’t know what they’re talking about. Your neighbor who teaches Year 10 Maths doesn’t know everything about children’s books just because he works in a school. Find people who can give you genuinely helpful feedback.

4.  Connect with a positive writing community. Find others (on or offline) who understand what it’s like to be a writer and will encourage and support you. Encourage and support them back. At some point you’ll need them.

5.  Write with heart. The aim of the game is to make your reader feel something.

Learn more about Katrina at www.katrinagermein.com

somebody's house coverplc2


Anthea works long hours on her illustrations – often drawing late into the night. She does whatever it takes to get the job done – and her colourful illustrations are a reflection of her extraordinary talent and dedication to her art.

Here’s how she illustrates.

images-81. Worry. (I’m very good at it.)
1a, Helpful tip to stop worrying – Eat chocolate.! Works a treat . . . no pun intended, well maybe.
2. Take lots of photos of anything that may have the colour I am looking for. Eg. Purple cabbage was my inspiration for the roof of the yellow house.
3. Drink lots of coffee, work really late and then get up and re do in the morning light!
4. Create so many layers of paint and pastels you can lay your head on it (re previous point)!
5. Don’t let family members comment on drawings as it saves LOTS of time!

See more of Anthea’s illustrations and find out more about her at http://www.antheastead.com.au/ or her blog http://www.antheastead.blogspot.com.au/


I remember as a small child walking down the street and wondering who lived in the houses we passed. Katrina Germein and Anthea Stead’s Somebody’s House took me right back to that place in my childhood.

One of the charms of this book is the familiarity it evokes in the reader’s mind. I love that it encourages the child to use their imagination and picture what might be behind each front door.  Let me tell you, it won’t be what you’re expecting. Anthea’s vibrant illustrations are hilarious and so full of imagination that kids will love them.

Take the time to enjoy the lilting rhythm of Katrina’s text and the rollicking details of Anthea’s beautiful pictures. Look closely into the blaze of colour and texture and you’ll find many surprises. My favourites would have to be the occupants of the yellow house, but I’m not going to tell you who they are – you’ll have to read the book for yourself:)

This is another compelling story by popular author Katrina Germein and I’m sure that adults will love it just as much as the kids. Let’s face it, who isn’t curious about the neighbours?

I enjoyed the cute little twist at the end of Somebody’s House and I’m sure that young readers will too.

I can imagine this book read over and over again and each time children will pour over the pages to find more and more to enjoy in the text and illustrations.

I hope you’ve found  Katrina and Anthea’s tips helpful.

Happy reading and writing:)