Tania’s Picture Book Collaboration Tips – Celebrating Tottie and Dot

image031Today I’m so excited to welcome my very dear writer/illustrator and all round amazing creator friend, Tania McCartney who’s visiting to celebrate the release of Tottie and Dot, her new picture book collaboration with Tina Snerling.

Tottie and Dot is an important story about friendship and how to fix it when things go wrong.

Tottie and Dot live side by side. They drink marshmallow tea in the morning. Side-by-side. They water blooms in the afternoon garden. Side-by-side. They make speckled eggs for tea. Side-by-side. All is calm and peaceful until, one day, things change between Tottie and Dot. Who can create the prettiest, the bestest, the coolest house? And at what cost?

If you want to know more about Tottie and Dot you can read my review here.

Today, Tania is generously sharing some great tips about the collaboration process and how to make it work.

Tania’s Five Writing Tips – Author/Illustrator Collaboration

Tina Snerling and I are lucky creators. We get to work very closely together when we produce our books, and—to me—there is nothing more rewarding in the book production journey. Working in collaboration enhances any work, especially when both parties are willing to open their hearts and minds to collaborative possibility. Two minds are always better than one—and working with Tina so closely has allowed me to shift and change and grow my text, with new ideas, concepts and elements that might not have occurred had we put this book together ‘blind’.

Tina and TaniaWorking collaboratively absolutely makes for a more seamless book creation, where that delicate author/illustrator dance comes together in a truly cohesive way. Here are my top tips for a rewarding collaboration:

  1. image029Try not to be precious when you begin collaborating. Accept that the other party may have something really special to offer—some humour, a quirky addition, a plot twist, a new perspective. It’s not about who’s right or wrong—it’s about creating a new entity that takes seed in both image and text, but grows into its own creation. Allow the process to be organic. I have regularly changed text to suit Tina’s illustration ideas, and vice versa.
  2. If you are the author, let go of being the ‘primary’ creator. The books I write become as much Tina’s as they are mine. The nuance and meaning her illustrations add to the text are priceless.
  3. Set up a google doc spreadsheet and keep track of how the book unfolds. Tina and I put illustration notes in the columns and discuss the process as we go along. Listing the pages down the left hand side (including cover, inside cover, endpapers, half title, title, imprint, etc) really helps keep tabs on how the book is flowing, and if text needs to be moved to another page or if page imagery needs to be broken up in some way. You can also keep several versions of the spreadsheet so you can look back and see how things changed over time. Fascinating!
  4. image030I can’t imagine things turning sour (and you rarely hear of this happening), but if they do, it’s probably due to a battle of wills. For the sake of the book, agree to put the disagreements behind you, be prepared to compromise and if things are really bad, call on your editor or publisher to make the final choices/decisions.
  5. Keep communications open and strong and clear. This will minimise any drama, confusion, misinterpretation of text (rare) and—most importantly—the reworking of images, which can be immensely frustrating and time-consuming. Remember some illustrators like to storyboard, some like to create full mock ups, some create in full draft or go straight to final (exponentially easier if the illustrations are digital, like Tina’s, or the images can be manipulated digitally). If you spend time discussing imagery before it’s created, you minimise these issues. Of course, once the discussion occurs, you also need to let go of expectation and remember the illustrator may well throw out your illustration notes and—gasp!—create something better than you ever dreamed.

(Sep 2014, EK Books, $24.99, hard cover, 9781921966491)

Thanks for the tips, Tania. We look forward to seeing more wonderful books from you and Tina:)

Dee

 

 

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Tottie and Dot Blog Blast!

Tottie and Dot blog blast webToday I’m so excited to be part of a very special event – a blog blast to celebrate the release of Tottie and Dot, Tania McCartney’s new picture book collaboration with Tina Snerling.

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My review of this gorgeous book is below, but you can also hear great interviews, and do other fun things at the other fabulous blogs involved in the Tottie and Dot blog blast.  Just click on the BLOG BLAST picture above and it will take you to the blog schedule.

TOTTIE AND DOT REVIEW

image034Turning the pages of Tania McCartney and Tina Snerling’s new picture book, Tottie and Dot is like browsing through a candy store. It’s so vibrant and full of appealing surprises.

Tottie and Dot are two adorable little girls who live side by side in quaint little houses.

image032They share the same taste in many things, marshmallow tea, apricot sandwiches, and my favourite, speckled eggs. But one day, things start to change.

image037image038A competition springs up between them over who can create the prettiest house. They become more and more outrageous in their attempts to come up with grander and grander plans for their homes.

image033I love the way this book is symbolic of modern day consumerism – where people accumulate things not out of need but out of a desire to impress.

Tottie and Dot and their deteriorating friendship over things that don’t really matter will invite important discussions with readers at home and in the classroom.

image040Friendship, consumerism and the environment are all contemporary issues for children to grapple with, and they are woven into Tottie and Dot’s story in a colourful, non-confronting way.

Tania McCartney’s lyrical language makes this book a pleasure to read out loud.

image039Each girl’s house is shown over a series of exquisitely illustrated double-page spreads — Tottie on the left and Dot on the right. Tina Snerling’s enchanting illustrations are full of expression and telling detail.

image035Tottie and Dot is a delightful read that raises important themes to be discussed with teachers and parents. But it’s an appealing story in its own right.

It’s another beautiful creation from the team who brought us An Aussie Year.

image036Tottie and Dot is for readers aged 4-7. It is published by EK Publishing.

(Sep 2014, EK Books, $24.99, hard cover, 9781921966491)

image031The collaboration between writer and illustrator on this book is clearly a labour of love. Their close connection comes through in all the nuances, the perfect marriage between text and illustrations.

Tania McCartney is coming back to my blog this Tuesday to talk about the collaboration process and she has some great tips – so stay tuned.

I hope you enjoy Tottie and Dot as much as I did.