Books & Reading, Children's Fiction, Children's Non-Fiction

Turtles, dollhouses, and plants – what’s next?

With Ramble On in its final stages (celebrate the release at Auckland Central Library, Sun Oct 15) I’ve been busy planning my next projects. Here they are!

The Caretaker Series is, I’ve decided, just for me. These are books where I get to be as deep, dark, weird and fantastical as I like. It’s about getting ideas out of my head and into a story that other people can interact with. I’m up to Book Five of the series at the moment, about halfway through the draft, and have a couple of beta readers lined up to give me feedback.

The Train to Nowhere is an idea I’ve had for a while, and I’ve recently worked out how to best do the illustrations – with a miniature dollhouse! I wrote a blog post about it here if you want more details, but this is going to be a longer term project. It’ll probably be ready for photographing in early 2018.

And now for the new one… I’ve been playing with the idea of making a picture book about turtles for a while now, and returned to this idea a couple of weeks ago. I did a search for turtles in New Zealand, and the DoC website told me that the most common wild marine turtle is the leatherback. I’d never heard of them before, but they’re fascinating! They don’t have a hard shell (hence their name), and there’s still a lot we don’t know about these jellyfish-gobbling, dinosaur-age giants.

The storyboard is 95% complete, and I’ve been inspired by Jeannie Baker’s work to do this one in collage. Looks like I’ll have a few picture books in my future.

The final project is another long-term one. I feel like I didn’t give myself enough time to research for Ramble On, so I’d like to remedy that with my next adult non-fiction, which will be on New Zealand plants.

Yes, plants. Because they’re also fascinating. There’s this tree on this island that’s the last of its kind ever, and a native carnivorous plant that only flowers for like a week a year, and a kiwi botanist whose research of seaweed was important during WWII… like I said. Fascinating! So I’m giving my time to research this fully and will probably look at putting it together in late 2018, or possibly even 2019.

Well, you can’t stay I’m not staying creative. Looking forward to the journey these projects bring, but for I’m off for a walk and then the day job… have a happy day! xx


Research before committing [Book Events Series]

I was a bit quiet last week (the laptop died and it is at least a million times harder blogging from my phone) but today I am back with the Book Events Series, in anticipation of the NZ Book Festival in TWO WEEKS’ TIME, people!

So yesterday, the wonderful organiser who is Louise de Varga, allowed us to have a sneak peak into the North Shore Events Centre. This led me to ponder the importance of researching events before turning up. Here are some tips for researching well!

Check out previous events

While this is technically the second annual book festival, it’s the first time on such a huge scale, so it’s a bit difficult to judge. I did find some photos and spoke to people who attended last year’s event, but Louise is advertising on a much bigger scale, the venue is larger and it’s been organised well in advance. In this case, checking out previous events is not very useful.

However, before I attended local markets to sell my books as a stallholder, I visited some of the markets to get an idea of the type / quality of products sold, and the demographics of customers. Before I went to LibraryCon, I checked out previous events’ photos, too.


Talk to people

I’ve noticed in this series of blog posts that ‘talk’ and ‘people’ come up a lot! In this case, talk to people who have done the event before, are currently attending, or are planning to attend. I’ve found most people to be open and honest about their opinions, and not only do I find out their opinions of the event in question, I often get recommended other events. For example, when I was at Orewa Street & Craft Market, I was recommended to the local school fair.

Inspect the venue

Is there parking? Do people need specific instructions to get there? Is public transport an option? How big is your allocated space, and what’s provided? If you can’t make it to the venue yourself, could you ask someone to take photos on your behalf?

Think like a customer

Putting yourself in the customer’s mind is a great way to consider an event and a venue. For example, the NZ Book Festival is a bit of a drive for some people – but there’s a range of people to meet and books to buy. There’s also an onsite cafe and stuff to keep the kids busy. It can be a whole day out – easily – which makes it worth a long drive.

There’s heaps of parking available, which would be a BIG plus for any event I was planning to attend, and there’s an ATM so I know I won’t have to worry about getting cash out.

This article is part of my Book Events Series, leading up to the NZ Independent Book Festival.