Friday 30 March 2012

Writing a strategy for a family festival day

Poetry is adaptable.  I've written a tiny technique called treasure hunt poetry to take families and small groups through a quick writing technique calling on found and sensory techniques in an old garden, now a commercial site on the historic precincts of Chinese Bendigo.

Its a free day- gardening ideas, preserves, solar energy and little triggers to remember a special garden association through treasure-hunt poetry.

I've been gathering things like seed pods, bits of crockery( found in gardens) feathers, and this afternoon I'll be looking at Peppergreen farm itself to see what herbs, leaves etc can be added to the treasure hunt table.

Here's a little example of what will be created, then handwritten on to paper flags and displayed around the garden.

Mint and knocking on neighbour's door
picking from the moist concrete cracks
for mum's roast Sunday lamb.
(C)  Lorraine Marwood 

What little snippets can be garnered from your garden- a certain texture or smell might take you back to a special memory?

Saturday 24 March 2012

Occasional Book review 4


By Elena DeRoo
Illustrated by Tracy Duncan

Wow! A small chapter book all told in rhyme. Quite an achievement. The topic is a perennial one for younger children- secret spy! There are also tree houses, school bullies, a new kid at school, as well as Russian Morse code and Olga's meat pies.

Most of the four line stanzas scan beautifully- here's a taste:

'It's the start of the end
of the long summer
the very last slurp
of the strawberry

Each chapter is a mini case- the bully boy gang star in two and an elderly Ollie and the mystery of his disappearing belongings, star in the third and last chapter.

Tracey Duncan's black and white artwork are great prompts as  well as propelling the narrative along, they add an extra dollop of enjoyment and excitement.

This would make an enjoyable read aloud book also. Highly recommended.

Wednesday 14 March 2012

'Do not forget Australia' Blog tour

Welcome to the last stop on an adventure to launch Sally Murphy's and Sonia Kretschmar's picture book published by Walker.

It's a special privilege to host a fellow author's blog tour- my congratulations to both Sally and Sonia on a great addition to our understanding of the First World war and this particular connection to France.

Recently on my travels into NSW, I saw an early copy of the book at a Bowral bookshop- there's nothing sweeter than catching sight on one's book on display for the world to see.

Now to pose some questions to Sally about historical fiction.

What attracts you to writing about a part of Australia's history for children and in picture book format?

I have always loved historical fiction, and feel it is a wonderful way to bring history to life for children. The visual element helps to make it more real. I feel it is really important that we teach our children about as many different parts of our past as we can, as the past shapes the present.

Does the Anzac story itself have a personal connection for you?

My grandfather served in the first world war, though not in Villers-Bretonneux, where this story is set. My son visited Villers-Bretonneux in 2008, and it was this visit which ignited my interest in the story.

Sonia Kretschmar is a talented illustrator how does her work contribute to the overall historical viewpoint of your book?

Yes, she is very talented! I am just in awe of her work and delighted that she agreed to illustrate the story. She has worked to recreate the era and the settings of the book, and her colour palette also adds to that historical feel.

The title is very poignant, was it easy to decide on a title?

Yes. I don’t always find titles so easily, but in this case, the whole story came from the sign, saying ‘Do Not Forget Australia’ which hangs in a schoolyard in Villers-Bretonneux, France. With the sign featuring so prominently in the story, there was no other title!

Research seems to be synonymous with historical fiction- what shape and time-span did your research take?

I started researching months before I started writing , and I’m still reading and learning! Only recently I visited the Trove archive on the National Library site to read news articles about Villers-Bretonneux.

I know only too well what family and work commitments can do to your writing time, how do you manage that time commodity? Any hints for other writers always juggling time?

I find I have to make time for writing – otherwise no writing will happen. I would love to write for hours every day, but am afraid that’s unrealistic for someone with four children still at home and a day job. So instead, I make sure that I write as often a possible – even if it’s just a few lines. I always carry a notebook, and my laptop goes wherever it can, so that I can write when I do get time.
For aspiring writers I would say don’t bemoan the lack of time – instead make use of whatever time you DO have. And snatch the time by making writing a priority.

What new perspective has this genre given your writing do you think?

Because I was writing about historical events, I had to be careful to be true to the times. Whilst credibility is important in any story, I think when you are working from history, you have to be careful – but in picture book format you have a limited number of words and so do need to stick to only the really key bits.

Will you write in this genre again?

Yes. I have a couple of other ideas for historical stories. When the time is right I will write them and, hopefully, get to share them with the world.

Any other comment you'd like to make?

Yep. I’d just like to mention that a picture book is a real team effort. I might have written the initial story, but Sonia’s illustrations brought it to life, and the work of editors, designers, publicity, marketing, distribution – so many people – is what makes a book complete. So a huge thank you to Sonia and to everyone at Walker Books for making it happen.

And thanks, Lorraine, for having me for a visit!

My pleasure Sally and now there's the last chance to win a copy of 'Do not forget Australia'. Can you comment on this post with another part of history that we shouldn't forget, or ask Sally or Sonia a question that hasn't been answered in the previous stops on the tour?  Winner notified Saturday 17th March.

Friday 9 March 2012

Workshops and travelling

Over the last ten days I've been able to travel to schools at Bowral and then to Canberra for filming of two vodcasts for the Dorothea Mackellar Poetry competition and DEEWR.

I met wonderful teachers, students and Skye and her family- many thanks for the friendship and the writing of amazing poetry.

How did it feel teaching poetry while a camera rolled and recorded?  A certain amount of surrealism.  I hope to have the explanation of the two techniques up on my web site later this month.