I'm buzzed to welcome today's special guest to the blog, as they are not only a fellow Aussie author, but also a good friend of mine! Plus, they've written one of my most favourite picture books ever (The Fix-It Man).
Check it out...
Dimity Powell loves filling every spare moment with words. She is the Managing Editor for Kids' Book Review and writes and reviews exclusively for children with over 30 published stories. If kids’ stories were ice cream, picture books would be her favourite flavour. She’s even churned out a few of her own including the critically acclaimed, The Fix-It Man, (2017), SCBWI Crystal Kite 2019 Australia NZ Award winner At the End of Holyrood Lane, (2018), Pippa, (2019) and Oswald Messweather, (2021) with more to come in 2022.
She is an accredited Write Like An Author facilitator and the Roving Reporter Coordinator for SCBWI Australia East NZ conferences and is an experienced presenter, panel host and moderator at writing festivals and conferences both in Australia and overseas who enjoys sharing her love of story in front of crowds of very small and tall people. It says on her website, www.dimitypowell.com, so it must be true. Dimity lives around the corner from Bat Man on the Gold Coast although they rarely hang out. Such are the lives of authors and superheroes.
Follow her through all your favourite SM channels.
Mess and disorder upset Oswald. They make his legs jiggle and
his palms itch - all the time.
Counting his crayons helps but is so exhausting.
Can Oswald find a way to untangle the mess of worries in his head?
Wombat Books 2021 – March 28 Publication
Get your copy here!
Did you always dream of being a writer/illustrator?
Yes and no. I’ve always adored books and reading and writing extensions of my favourite adventures – they mostly included horses – but even after high school, I had little inkling to be a professional author. I have kept a diary since I was in primary school and taken one with me wherever I’ve lived or walked on this planet. That was and still is the home harbour of much of my best writing. Whilst crossing the Caribbean, I spent many of my hours ‘on watch’ jotting away story ideas inspired by my time at sea. Some of them have now made it into my short stories, although at the time, I had no real concept of ‘writing for work’.
When did you start pursuing publication of your work?
Shortly after I completed my first ‘Writing for Children’ course. I had material, ideas and a gung ho attitude ignited by my course learning and I couldn’t wait to share them. I did possess a modicum of reality though so dutifully constructed a spreadsheet to record my rejections. I was expecting (almost eagerly) to fill several pages before receiving anything faintly resembling a publication offer.
How long did it take from that first thought to release day?
Astoundingly, the first story I ever submitted, to the NSW School Magazine, was accepted! I remember staring at the acceptance email, weeping silent tears for many minutes before the realness of the news fully took hold. Within minutes, my ambition to be a children’s writer became a need to set up a business name, create a professional invoice, register for an ABN and make another spreadsheet – this time, for published stories.
Fast forward a few years to 2012 which is when my first traditionally published book, PS Who Stole Santa’s Mail? appeared and then a further five years until the publication of my first picture book, The Fix-It Man, and well, that spreadsheet is finally looking healthier. So for me, the publication journey has been akin to a rocket ship ride to the moon; an explosive start, slow burn around Earth followed by a continual upward trajectory into the unknown that’s taken nearly 15 (Earth) years!
What's been the hardest part of publishing a book so far?
There are countless joys publishing a book, and just as many hard parts. I think perseverance is the main thing. Possessing a robust, can-do attitude is a must if you really want to see your story through from vague idea to printed perfection. This involves many aspects including, the editing process, marketing requirements and sustaining after-release-date momentum. Maintaining that mantra and an impervious never-give-up attitude is the thing I work hardest at. That and timing.
My timing is pitiful. I write things, at times amazing things, then sit on them for far too long believing the idea is not quite strong enough or the writing not good enough and meantime, a similar story lands on bookshelves. Sometimes, I think you just need to believe in yourself enough to take that leap of faith so you don’t miss the train!
And the easiest, or most enjoyable?
Perversely, the most enjoyable parts of helping a book baby come alive are also the hardest: the editing process, stringing together a passable marketing plan with the publisher, collaboration with the illustrator. I relish all these aspects even though they can be exacting because each of them brings me one step closer to holding my story for real and sharing it with its intended audience – the kids. That’s the best bit of all.
What's next for you?
I’m glad you asked! In just a few more days my forth picture book, Oswald Messweather, drops and I couldn’t be more proud. Oswald is an intense little character, the type that lets his ice cream melt while counting someone else’s sprinkles. In other words, he suffers from OCD. Oswald Messweather is not a picture book that focuses intently on the educational perspectives of children with OCD but rather more on the emotional aspects associated with this debilitating condition. I can’t wait to introduce him to the world.
What's one piece of advice you'd give to writers just started their pursuit of publication?
Umquam noli desperare – Do not lose hope at any time! Work hard, stay alert, progress ever forward no matter how slowly. It worked for the Romans and it will work for you, because somewhere out there is someone who wants to read your story. All you have to do is tell it.
Last book you just read?
Adult: Have You Seen Luis Velez? By Catherine Ryan Hyde
Kids: There’s a Zoo in My Poo by Felice Jacka, a NF picture book + Gone To the Woods by Gary Paulsen, a MG autobiography – Superb!
What book are you reading now?
Kowloon Kid by Phil Brown along with a thousand other kids’ titles waiting to be loved and reviewed.
Best book you've ever read?
Impossible to say! Every book impacts in some way no matter what genre thus I feel a bit of love for everything I’m fortunate enough to read. But one of the most truly transformative books I’ve ever read is, A Gentleman in Moscow by Amor Towles. Serious must read!
Ah, more futility! Like a dishonest mother of five (not IRL), I don’t have favourites however Morris Gleitzman’s and Markus Zusak’s writing continues to uplift and entertain me like few others’ can.
Best moment of your writing life?
The best moments are the unexpected ones. I hope there are more to come. The last one was in December 2019 just days before Christmas when my publisher announced they’d accepted my latest picture book MS. I received that email whilst on holiday, sitting outside the entrance of the Melbourne Gaol after touring its cells and stirring history and began that silent-weeping-for-pure-joy thing again. I can only imagine what visitors entering must have thought.
Name of your newest WIP?
Where Are You, Matilda Grey? the working title for a big re-write project I’d intended to work on in 2020. Perhaps this will be her year.
If not an author, what would be your dream job?
There’s two: 1. Bookshop emporium proprietor of the kind of place that includes comfy spots to read and yummy things to eat with generous amounts of natural lighting so one can see the ducks waddling around in the sub-tropical gardens of the island where said book sanctuary is located (is that too specific?!). 2. A vet.
Want to guest blog or be interviewed? Got a cover reveal or book coming out?
Get in touch today!