Paris Hunting – Introducing Cara Jamieson – An Emerging New Character

There’s something really exciting about delving into the minds and lives of fictional characters.

My good author friend, Sheryl Gwyther was invited to participate in a Character Blog Hop by fabulous author, Wendy Orr whose post explores her famous character, Nim.

On Sheryl’s blog, she shares wonderful insights about her compelling character, Adversity McAlpine. I love Addie and her story set in NSW during the depression.

Now Sheryl has asked me to lift the lid on one of my characters so I’ve chosen to talk about a new character from my current work in progress, Paris Hunting.

Paris Hunting is a Young Adult adventure/suspense set in Paris in the present day.

IMG_0048My main character, Cara Jamieson is living in my head at the moment, but I’m looking forward to finding out more about her and her life when I spend time in Paris in April.

What is your character’s name?

Cara Jamieson

Is this character based on you?

Not consciously, but I guess parts of her are. She’s inquisitive like me. She’s quite headstrong and she’s adventurous.

I have never lived the kind of life Cara lives, but maybe a part of me always wanted to.

How old is the character?

Cara is 17 years-old.

What should we know about the character?

If you met Cara it wouldn’t take you long to get to know her. She’s an outgoing, honest kind of girl.

Cara is living in Paris because her father has a diplomatic posting there. She’s an only child so her friends are important to her.

She has just discovered that her Great grandfather, Phillipe Gautier was an important member of the French Resistance in World War 2. Her Great grandfather was a taxidermist (the research on this character has been interesting to say the least) and there’s a rumour that he concealed something important inside one of the animals he stuffed. Cara is determined to find out what it was and where it is now, but the only clue she has is a letter written by Phillipe just before he was murdered.

imagesCara has travelled a lot because of her parents’ work and her friends are the kids of other diplomats. She is someone who likes to learn about and immerse herself in other cultures and traditions.

Cara is a daredevil, and is always challenging her friends to something extreme. Her latest dare involves breaking into the Paris Museum of Hunting to take a selfie with a unicorn horn.

What she doesn’t know is that the Museum holds a clue to her family’s past, and finding out about it could put her life and the lives of her friends at risk.

Cara is very determined and single minded and is hard to talk out of a course of action, even if it’s dangerous

What are your character’s personal goals? 

Cara wants to find this thing that was so important to her Great Grandfather that it probably got him killed. Cara also wants to fulfil her need for adventure.

Where can we find out more about the book?

Paris Hunting is still a work in progress but I’ll be sharing more news about it on this blog as the story develops.

My good writer friends, Alison Reynolds and Sally Murphy have some great new books coming out this year so I’m tagging them to share their character’s stories.

Be watching their blogs at Alison Reynolds and Sally Murphy to find out more.

 

Sally Murphy – Researching Historical Fiction

SallyMurphyToday I’m very pleased to welcome writerly friend and author of many fabulous books, Sally Murphy. Sally’s latest book, 1915 has just been released and she’s here to share her tips on researching historical fiction.

1915, is my first foray into novel-length historical fiction. Historical fiction uses real events, but blends them with fiction. Even when we write about real people, we can’t always know exactly what they said, and certainly not what they were thinking. And, of course, often historical fiction uses fictional characters, set amongst real events and/or time periods. This presents a different set of challenges than writing contemporary fiction, or fantasy. The writer of historical fiction must also be a researcher.

With that in mind, here are my five tips for researching historical fiction.

  1. Once you have an idea, start with the easy sources. In my case, I wanted to write about Australian soldiers in 1915. The first two things I did were visit my library and use the internet. At the library I borrowed every book they had on Gallipoli and World War One. Some of these dealt with the topic in depth, others were short and focussed only on a few key points. Online I searched key terms such as “Gallipoli’, “AIF” and “Australian Soldiers’. Really basic terms that gave me way too much information. But from browsing the books and the websites I started to see recurring themes and also learnt lots of little pieces of information, which helped me to refine what it was I wanted to write about. These ‘easy’ sources are only a beginning – you will need to go further and further and further, but they will give you a very productive starting point.
  2. Deepen your search by looking at primary and secondary sources. These are things that come directly from the time, or from recollection of the time. In my case, I realised I wanted to write about someone from the 11th Battalion of the AIF, because I’m from Western Australia, and so were these men. So I went and read their unit diary, which outlined key events – where they were and when, what key battles they took place in, and so on. Other sources I read included the diaries of Captain Bean, who was Australia’s official war correspondent, and who I wanted to include as a character in my book. One of my favourite sources was Trove, the National Library’s digitised collection of newspapers, which allowed me to see what was being reported about the war as it happened.
  3. Create a timeline, and find a way of organising all the information you collect. I started with a basic timeline of the main events of the Gallipoli campaign. Then, as I learned about the 11th, I added their dates in. Later, when I started to think about what was happening on the home front (back in Australia), I added more events. I printed and photocopied lots of information and notes that I’d made, and I set up a file, with a divider for each month of the year. This meant that as I wrote, I could look up what was happening to my character as well as what was happening elsewhere.
  4. Don’t just look for key events. Remember that this is fiction. It needs to be like real life. In between big events like landings and battles, there are small events like cooking dinner, or writing a letter. Although you might make these up for your character, you’ll find lots of mention of these in your research, which will help you understand, for example, what writing a letter was like in the mud and chaos of Gallipoli. Then, when you’re writing, your story will be both interesting and believable. I would have loved to give Stanley, my character, a nice chair to sit in, and the time to write long letters home. Instead, I had to remember he would be snatching time in a dugout, maybe even scrabbling for paper.
  5. Remember you can’t put everything into one story. If you have a viewpoint character, it is hard to recount the events that he or she couldn’t have witnessed. I couldn’t put my soldier, Stanley, in the midst of every battle. At the same time, the point of the series is to explore Australia’s experiences in World War 1. So, I had to consider what Stanley might have seen or done himself, and how he might learn about other events. He does hear about things outside his own experience, particularly through letters from his sister Elizabeth, and by meeting Charles Bean, but it isn’t a complete history of Gallipoli. So as you research, focus on the events which will build the story you are trying to tell.

1915Overall, writing historical fiction can be really rewarding. Once I’d started researching I found it difficult to stop. In fact, even though the story is finished and published, I am still learning new things about the war. Along the way I also discovered that I quite like the challenge of this novel form, so perhaps 1915 won’t be only historical novel.

Thanks for having me on the blog, Dee.

My pleasure, Sally. I must admit, Trove is a favourite of mine too:)

ABOUT THE BOOK

When Australia throws its support behind Britain in its fight against Germany, young teacher Stan Moore is one of the first to join up, swapping the classroom for adventure in Europe. But the 11th Battalion is sent with the newly formed Anzac Corp to Gallipoli, where Stan is confronted by the hard lessons of war. Though conditions are dismal and death is everywhere, so is the humour and bravery that is the true spirit of Anzac.

Part of the Australia’s Great War series from Scholastic Australia, 1915 was released in time to commemorate the 100 year anniversary of the landing of the first ANZACs at Gallipoli.

You can learn more about 1915 at Sally’s website or her Facebook page.

POETRY WRITING TIPS – WITH SALLY MURPHY – Writing Verse Novels

Screen Shot 2014-08-05 at 9.02.18 amToday, I’m very excited to welcome writerly friend and award winning verse novelist, Sally Murphy. I’m going to be talking about Sally’s latest wonderful book, Roses Are Blue, and Sally will share some great writing tips.

ROSES ARE BLUE

Roses Are Blue by award winning, Sally Murphy is another deeply moving verse novel about a real life family dilemma that a young child, in this case Amber Rose, must face.

Amber Rose and her family are dealing with tragedy and change. But sometimes hope blooms suddenly.

I have not got used to my new mum.

Even though I love her

(I absolutely love her),

I miss my happy,

painting,

dancing,

gardening,

smiling mum.

Something terrible has happened to Amber’s mum. After a serious car accident, she looks different and she can’t do many of the things she used to.

She’s still the same person inside, but will the kids at Amber’s new school understand that when they meet her at the Mother’s Day High Tea?

Amber is a beautiful, sensitive, and totally believable character learning to cope with massive changes in her life.  Her emotions of fear, embarrassment and love are so authentic.

She is vulnerable and flawed and  Sally Murphy skillfully draws the reader into Amber’s world and heart.

I love the way Amber changes and grows through the story with the truths she learns about families and friendship, and the things that are really important. She also learns a lot about herself.

Sally MurphyThe writing in this story is beautiful and tender, full of imagery and symbolism that present difficult issues in a way that young children won’t find confronting.

There are so many parallels to be drawn in this story and I love the way Amber expresses herself through her art, and it provides a strong connection to her mother, and to the past and the future.

This is a heartwarming story about compassion, understanding and trust.

I can see Roses are Blue being read by many just for its sheer beauty, but it will also be a valuable classroom book to be read and discussed.

SALLY’S VERSE NOVEL WRITING TIPS

Screen Shot 2014-08-05 at 9.09.11 amMy love of verse novels developed when I discovered those written by Margaret Wild (Jinxed and One Night). I decided then that I wanted to write in the form one day, and that infatuation continued to grow when I discovered works by Steven Herrick, Catherine Bateson, Lorraine Marwood and more. It took a while to find the right story for a verse novel, but when a girl called Pearl started telling me her tale, I wrote my first verse novel, Pearl Verses the World. Later, I met (in my imagination) a boy named John who similarly wanted his tale told that way, in Toppling. Most recently, Amber Rose was intent on sharing her journey to coming to terms with big changes, also in verse.

I love writing in verse, but when I started writing verse novels I did it instinctively. I didn’t know how to do it, I just had a go. Having now written three, I still work largely by instinct, but when I reflect there are some things I do which work well for me, and may help you if you choose to try the form. Here, then, are my five tips for writing a verse novel:

  1. Love the form. Don’t try to write a verse novel unless you love verse novels. This may sound obvious, but lots of writers are tempted to try a new form because it features in awards list, or because another writer is doing it. Be true to yourself as a writer and write what you love. That passion shines through in your writing.
  2. Read lots of verse novels, but don’t try to copy them. I have been influenced by the work of Australian verse novelists like Steven Herrick, Lorraine Marwood and Sherryl Clark and also those from further afield including Sharon Creech. But it is important that my work has its own style, a point of difference. Reading widely assures that I see lots of different techniques and encourages me to try different things. I don’t want to write like any of those writers – though I do wish to be as good as them, one day.
  3. When you decide to write a verse novel, decide whether the story you have in mind is likely to work in this way. Most verse novels are written in first person voice (though they may have multiple voices rather than just one) and the form seems best suited to topics with a high level of emotion or conflict. If you prefer lots of description, lots of narration, or even lots of dialogue, you may find prose is a better fit.
  4. TopplingBe clear on your story arc. Yes, this is a series of poems – or perhaps one very long poem – but it is also a narrative. Is there a clear conflict and resolution? Are there twists and turns? Does the tension build? Other story elements such as character development and dialogue are also really vital.
  5. Consider whether your verse novel works as poetry. Although I write in poetry, I usually do so instinctively at the draft stage, and then during the revision process I focus more on the poetic techniques, looking for layers of meaning, considering line lengths and also reworking my use of techniques such as rhythm, repetition, onomatopoeia, alliteration, assonance, imagery, and rhyme.

Thanks for these great tips, Sally.

I look forward to reading more of your wonderful verse novels.

Dee:)

P.S. Next week we’re looking at a different form of poetry – Bush Poetry – and resident expert, Stephen Whiteside will be here to share his tips with us.

 

“TOPPLING” Tackles Big Issues – REVIEW OF SALLY MURPHY’S NEW BOOK

Toppling, the new illustrated verse novel from Sally Murphy tackles some big issues, but handles the difficult content with gentleness and humour.

John is a normal boy with a strong friendship group, and a slightly unusual fascination for Dominos.

John’s world is shaken by fear and uncertainty when his best friend, Dominic is diagnosed with cancer. Suddenly, adults are keeping things from him, and his best friend seems to have disappeared.

Author, Sally Murphy handles this difficult issue of childhood cancer with hope and sensitivity.

Toppling is  wonderfully illustrated, and despite the pared down format, Sally manages to set vivid and powerful scenes.

She establishes strong characters; each with a clear voice and a story of their own.

Toppling is a beautiful book that will have you laughing and crying; possibly at the same time. It’s a story of loyalty and friendship, delightfully illustrated by the very talented Rhian Nest James

Another great read for 8-12yo from the author of the award-winning Pearl Verses the World.

Toppling was released by Walker Books Australia this month (March 2010).

ISBN: 9781921529429

Congratulations Sally and Rhian on a your new book.

Dee:-)

A WRITERLY VISIT OUT WEST

This month, talented author, Sally Murphy is celebrating the release of her beautiful new verse novel, Toppling. Readers who loved Pearl Verses the World won’t be able to put this one down.

To celebrate the release of Sally’s new book, I’m off to visit her today out west to talk about what I love about Children’s Poetry.

Hope you can drop into Sally’s place and say, “Hi”. She’s at http://sallymurphy.blogspot.com

See you there.

Dee:-)

HISTORICAL MOMENT AT DEESCRIBE WRITING – ILLUSTRATOR, DAVID MURPHY VISITING TODAY to talk about Snowy’s Christmas

Constable Wombat - a wonderful illustration by David Murphy
Constable Wombat – a wonderful illustration by David Murphy
Snowy's Christmas cover
Snowy’s Christmas cover

Today is a very special day for me. I have NEVER had an illustrator visit my blog…until NOW!

Talented and modest Dave Murphy is here to talk about being an illustrator, working on “Snowy’s Christmas” with author, Sally Murphy, and some of the personal stuff that’s always interesting to know.

David, seeing as “Snowy’s Christmas” is such a beautiful and unique story, I thought I’d start with some Christmasy questions.

What is your favourite part of Christmas?

Sharing it with my family.

What was your favourite Christmas story when you were a child?

As a child, and even now, my favourite Christmas story is The Night Before Christmas. I read it to my boys every Christmas Eve.

What is your favourite Christmas memory?

Lying awake on hot summer evenings the night before Christmas; listening for the bells of Santa’s sleigh through the noise of the cidadas and crickets.

Dave at work
Dave at work

What was the best present you ever got for Christmas?

Books. My favourite presents were always books. My father once gave me a collection of Henry Lawson stories, which is still pretty special.

I just happen to be a fan of Henry Lawson too (even wrote a book about him), so I can understand exactly how you feel. I have to confess at this point that I’m totally in awe of illustrators, so I’d really like to know how you do it

David, can you tell me what your favourite part about being an illustrator is?

(Aside from being a dad) my favourite thing in the world is when my pencil moves across the page bringing a story to life.

What was your favourite part about illustrating “Snowy’s Christmas”?

Watching the characters spring to life and interact with each other – then watching others interpret my illustrations.

What is the thing you like most about Snowy, the character?

Snowy popped out of my brain and onto the page almost fully formed. Even so, he grew and developed as I led him around Sally’s story. As his character emerged, I saw the sense of joy he had discovered in his own uniqueness and strength.

What is your favourite part about turning a writer’s words into pictures?

Everyone imagines stories differently, no matter how descriptive the text. It is a privilege to be asked for your own particular vision. It is even more gratifying to be able to add to the world created by a brilliant writer like Sally.

Do you have a special tip for aspiring illustrators?

Another great Dave Murphy illustration - Kids from school
Another great Dave Murphy illustration – Kids from school

Bruce Whatley once challenged me to try using my left hand. The results were so amazing it completely changed the way I illustrate. I now do all my sketching exclusively with my left hand, and all my technical work with my right.

Thanks for some wonderful insights David into you and your work.

To find out more about David, visit http://www.davidmurphy.id..au

You can also catch David, and author of Snowy’s Christmas, Sally Murphy at these other great locations on their blog tour.

Week One – October 4 – https://deescribewriting.wordpress.com

(That’s here!)

Week Two – October 11 – http://livejournal.com/users/orangedale

Week Three – October 18 – www.soupblog.wordpress.com

Week Four – October 25 – www.letshavewords.blogspot.com

Week Five – November 1 – http://sallymurphy.blogspot.com

Week Six – November 8 – http://aussiereviews.blogspot.com

Week Seven – November 15 – http://samantha-hughes.blogspot.com

Week Eight – http://www.robynopie.blogspot.com

Week Nine – http://sandyfussell.blogspot.com

Week Ten – http://aussiechristmas.wordpress.com

Week Eleven – http://belka37.blogspot.com

SALLY MURPHY SHARES CHRISTMAS SECRETS – And talks about her beautiful new book, Snowy’s Christmas

Sally MurphyTalented and prolific author, Sally Murphy is here today to talk about her ‘just released’ picture book, “Snowy’s Christmas”.

I am so pleased to welcome Sally back to my blog, and hear all about her wonderful new creation. Just for fun, I thought we’d focus today’s interview on “Favourite things”

Sally, what is your favourite part about Christmas?

Everything! I LOVE Christmas. I love seeing my kids emptying their sacks on Christmas morning, and spending quality time together. And singing Christmas carols, and reading Christmas books, and eating yummy Christmas food and the lights and the tree and….

What was your favourite Christmas story when you were a child?

Funnily, I don’t remember any specific Christmas stories, apart from versions of the biblical story – which I’m glad I was taught. I do remember receiving a Little Golden Book which was a Christmas story – I think a version of the Little Drummer boy. What I remember most significantly is that there were TWO copies of the same book in my stocking – one was apparently meant for my big sister. But I think perhaps there weren’t many picture book type offerings just about Christmas, certainly not on the scale they are now. And I have dozens of them now – a great collection which is packed away each year until December.

What is your favourite Christmas memory?

As a child we had a lounge room door which closed and locked. The key was always in the door – except on Christmas morning. We all gathered at the door until Mum and Dad were up and everyone was there. Then the door would be unlocked and we would rush in and see what Father Christmas had left. It always seemed so magical!

What was your favourite Christmas present?

Ooh – not a physical present, but the joy of seeing my kids on Christmas morning.

What was your favourite part about writing this book?

Creating a very Australian offering. At the time I wrote the first draft (five or six years ago)  all the Christmas  books available featured snow and ice and were imported. I wanted to do something Australian. Of course, in the meantime, there have been several other Australian Christmas books published, which I think is wonderful.

What is your favourite part about working with an illustrator?

The surprise of seeing what they make of my words. I am not a visual person, so I don’t have preconceived ideas about how the tsory will appear. It is always fun to see the story brought to life.

What is  your favourite character trait in Snowy?

Snowy's Christmas cover

Snowy's Christmas cover

His vulnerability. He is different from the other roos, and feels this strongly He discovers that difference is good, with the help of his understanding mother and the wonderful Ash.

What is your favourite writing tip?

Read what you want to write. It’s amazing how many people want to write children’s books, for example, but don’t read children’s books. You need to love the genre you want to write in, and  read read read.

What is your favourite part about being a writer?

Acceptances – and, of course, eventually seeing my name on the cover. There’s nothing like it.

Thank you so much for visiting us, Sally. It has been wonderful talking with you about Snowy – and I’m sure he will become a Christmas favourite with lots of Aussie and overseas kids.

Later on today, (in about an hour’s time), Snowy’s Illustrator, David Murphy is visiting this blog and he’s going to talk about his favourite Christmassy things, and illustrating Sally’s picture book.

It’s a particularly exciting event for me because I have never had a real, live illustrator come to visit.

Hope you’ll drop back later to meet David.

A DEESCRIBE REVIEW – SNOWY’S CHRISTMAS – written by Sally Murphy & illustrated by David Murphy

Snowy's Christmas cover

Snowy's Christmas cover

Reading Snowy’s Christmas made me realise that Christmas is not all that far away. And how refreshing it was to be welcomed into the world of an Australian Christmas….where there is no snow, only snowy white kangaroos.

In Snowy’s Christmas; Snowy, a white kangaroo struggles to fit in with the rugged red members of his species. Then on Christmas day, a visit from a mysterious stranger turns his world around.

Snowy’s Christmas is not just about Christmas, but about finding your place in the world.

It’s a truly Australian Christmas story with Aussie animals and landscapes. The tale is beautifully told by Sally Murphy, and David Murphy’s bright, funny illustrations give the book extra bounce.

Snowy’s Christmas is definitely one for the Christmas stocking.

Snowy’s Christmas

Written by Sally Murphy

Illustrated by David Murphy

Published by Random House Australia

ISBN: 9781741664409

RRP:  $19.95

SALLY MURPHY AND DAVID MURPHY WILL BE DROPPING IN TO THIS BLOG  “ON SUNDAY”  FOR A CHAT, SO DON’T FORGET TO COME BACK AND SAY, “Hi”

DEE SCRIBING – ‘The Big Blowie’

Now that you’ve met Sally, here’s a bit more about her book, ‘The Big Blowie’.

 

 

The drought at Lake Blowie has threatened to put the whole town off the map but Syd likes living there. He can’t make it rain, but there is something he can do

 

In ‘The Big Blowie’, we meet Syd, a kid with the imagination and enthusiasm to save the world ( fortunately, in this story he doesn’t have to, just his Mum’s scones and cream business).

 

This is a great book for kids who hate blow flies and like coming up with big ideas.

 

Sally Murphy’s descriptions and dialogue make you feel right there in the story, and Craig Longmuir’s illustrations are totally cool.

SALLY MURPHY IS HERE!

 

 

 

Kid’s author Sally Murphy is touring cyberspace and has buzzed in to tell us about her ‘wild’ new book, The Big Blowie.

  

1.           Sally, I had a dream about a giant blowie once. It landed on me and hatched a massive maggot. Is that where your idea for The Big Blowie came from? (I mean a nightmare you had, not me).

Umm – no, my nightmares are usually more about things like discovering I’m in public with no clothes on – and I can’t write a children’s book about that, now can I? No, the idea came from my brainstorming as many Australian things as I could that I thought would fit into this series. The series guide requested Australian subject matter and Australian issues, so I came up with a ‘Big Thing’ being built in the Outback to draw tourists in during the drought. Australians love ‘Big Things’, and what could be more Australian than a big blowfly – they are everywhere!

2.           In your book, The Big Blowie is made from all sorts of things including a car body. Have you ever owned a car that you would like to have made into a Blowie or any other insect parts?

Can’t say that I have! I’ve had a very eclectic mix of vehicles, starting from my first car which was a 1972 VW Superbug, which I wish I still owned and including Holdens, Mazdas, Fords, Toyotas and Mitsubishis.

I did always wish I could have a really useful insect like Evinrude the dragonfly from The Adventurers, who acted as the outboard motor for their little boat. That was way cool.

 

3.           Why are you touring by blog and not by car? Is it a) because of the cost of petrol? b) because your car has been made into a giant Blowie to get people to come and visit your town? c) Other? (please explain)

It’s because I’m too scared to leave my house in case I meet a giant blowie, of course!

But really, touring by blog makes so much sense. I live in rural Western Australia. It is two and a half hours to Perth, and a week’s drive from, say, Sydney. So, to try to get out and talk to lots of people about my book would take weeks and weeks and, of course, lots of petrol. (which is ridiculously expensive). But when I tour by blog I can do it from the comfort of my home and, if I wished, I could do it while I ate breakfast in bed wearing my purple polka dot pyjamas! Actually, I am much more sedately dressed and sitting in my office, but who would know if I wasn’t?

A blog tour allows me to reach readers, parents, teachers, other authors and more, all around Australia and even around the world. That doesn’t mean that I’m not willing to travel. I love going into schools and sharing my books, and also love doing festival appearances, so if anyone reading this has a need for a crazy, but enthusiastic, speaker, they should drop me a line. A blog tour isn’t a replacement for other touring – it’s simply another way of doing it.

 

4.           I read somewhere that you grew up in a hotel. Is that where you met your first ‘Big Blowie’?

Yes, I did grow up in a hotel – a country ‘pub’ in rural Western Australia. There were lots of blowies in my town – but of course, I’d hasten to add (in case any health inspectors are reading this), NEVER in the hotel kitchen (lol). Growing up in such a different setting – we didn’t live in a house like everyone I knew, but in bedrooms which were the same as the guest bedrooms, on the top floor of the hotel, with our kitchen downstairs and through the guest dining room – was probably an interesting way of living, but I didn’t know anything different until I was in my teens when we moved into a real house. I would love to write a story with pub kids in it one day, but it hasn’t finished brewing yet.

 

5.           Have any of your six children ever owned a pet Blowie? What advice would you have for a kid who wants to keep a Blowie as a pet?

No, none of my kids has ever had a pet blowie, but my daughter once kept pet butterflies in a shoebox in her wardrobe. She used to close her bedroom door then let them out to fly around the room. I didn’t know about this at the time, buts he recently confessed (she is 17 now).

My advice for any kid who wants to keep a pet blowie is – don’t. Blowflies are pretty gross, really, and don’t live long. Before they die they have this terrible tendency to lay big fat juicy maggots. Eeewww.

 

6.           What advice would you have for a parent of a child who wants to own a pet Blowie?

Two words – ‘say no’. I may have written about a blowie, but that doesn’t mean I like them. Not at all. Though I did buy myself a little fly brooch to celebrate the release of this book.

 

7.           I’ve heard that writers can become pretty involved in what they’re writing. When you were writing The Big Blowie, did you ever accidentally put flies in your fruit cake instead of currants?

No, but only because I don’t make fruit cakes (I leave that to my mum, who makes the best fruitcakes ever).

But I do become very involved in my stories, and definitely take on the personalities of my main characters which wasn’t so bad when I was working on The Big Blowie because Syd is a human child, but more worrying when I wrote Pemberthy Bear and The Floatingest Frog. It isn’t easy having the personality of a frog or a bear. And when I wrote Pearl Verses the World, which is about a little girl whose grandmother dies, I cried and cried as if it was my own grandmother.

 

8.           In your book, Syd can say ‘hello’ in ten different languages. Can you speak any other languages besides English and Australian?

Yes. I speak fluent teenager. Well, that’s a lie, but I do know what it means when my son says ‘yo, Mum dude’ and can even interpret various grunts, eyebrow raises and withering stares directed at me by the various teenagers in my life.

I spent a year in Papua New Guinea, and can understand Pigeon English passably, but speak very little. I was an English teacher so tried to always talk English.

When I wrote this book I wanted to show that Syd likes to connect with the tourists who come to visit, and I thought learning to say hello would be a good way of doing so. I used the internet to find out how to say hello, and also to find names for the two tourists that appear in the book – I used Mr. Yen and Mr. Krona because they are the currencies in their respective countries (Japan and Sweden)

9.           What is your favourite ‘big’ thing in Australia? Why?

Oh – all of them. I saw several in my recent travels across Australia. I think especially liked the Big Lobster, because it was so very big, but I also liked the Big Galah, the big Ned Kelly…oh, there are so many.

10.       With his Mum and Dad, Syd builds the Big Blowie over the school holidays. What is the weirdest thing you’ve ever done in the school holidays?

I usually use the school holidays to clear my desk. This might not sound very weird, but when you see how my desk is today, a week after the school holidays, you might wonder why I bothered to spend so much time tidying. It always has a pile of books to be reviewed, a pile of stories to be rewritten, at least two lists of things to do, a pile of bills to be paid and forms to be filled out, even a pile of things to move into other piles.  It’s sad, really.

Just before Christmas, I did take an extended holiday with my family. Some would say it was weird (or just plain crazy) to cross the Nullarbor with my husband and five of our kids, staying in a small caravan and spending so much time together. But we had a lot of fun – and plenty of experiences worth writing about!

11.       Finally, there may be some animal activists present. Were any fly swats used in the writing of this book?

No fly swats! And not even a can of fly spray. It’s a very eco friendly book. No animals were harmed in the making of this book. I promise.

Sorry cyberites, but Sally has to ‘fly’ now. But you can catch up with her on her cyber tour and hear more about her new book if you visit the following great locations:

 

February 9 – Let’s Have Words – http://letshavewords.blogspot…com/

 

February 10 – Robyn Opie’s Writing Children’s Books – www.robynopie.blogspot.com

 

February 11 – Spinning Pearls – www.spinningpearls.blogspot.com

 

February 12 – The Book Chook – www.thebookchook.blogspot.com

 

The Big Blowie is part of the Aussie Aussie Aussie series published by Aussie School Books and distributed by Blake. http://www.blake.com.au/ProductDetails.asp?ProductCode=9781921255366&Show=TechSpecs