I'm finally back after a week of THE WORST internet connection ever. Phew!
And I'm kicking off this blissful moment with another interview, this time with a wonderful best-selling author celebrating the release of their gorgeous new book.
Check it out...
Katrina Germein is a best-selling picture book author. Published worldwide, Katrina’s book Big Rain Coming has remained continuously in print since it was first published in 1999. Her popular title My Dad Thinks He’s Funny was Highly Commended in the Prime Minister’s Literary Awards. Thunderstorm Dancing is among many of Katrina’s books to have received a Notable Book Commendation from The Children’s Book Council of Australia and feature on children’s television programs such as Play School. In 2019 Katrina received the Speech Pathology Book of the Year Award for Let’s Go Strolling. Katrina is an ambassador for Raising Literacy Australia, a Books in Homes Role Model and a Premier’s Reading Challenge Ambassador. New titles in 2020 include Tell `em, My Dad Thinks He’s Super Funny and Shoo You Crocodile.
Tell `em by Katrina Germein, Rosemary Sullivan
with the children of Manyallaluk School.
Illustrated by Karen Briggs.
Published By HarperCollins.
New release May 2020.
A joyous picture book about life in a remote community
Tell 'em how us kids like to play.
We got bikes and give each other rides.
Tell 'em about the dancing and singing,
And all the stories the old people know.
In this book, the voices of Indigenous children
sing out across the land.
Who are you and what do you write?
I write children’s picture books so I’m a children’s author. I’m also a parent and Early Years teacher. I’m terrible cook, a pretty good friend and an enthusiastic but out of tune singer.
Where and when and how did the writing life begin for you?
My first book (Big Rain Coming) has been in print for over twenty years. After it was published, having three babies in two years slowed things down for a while but since they started school I’ve published an average of one book per year. My fifteenth book (Shoo, You Crocodile) will be released in November.
I always say I began writing by accident when a story in my head (Big Rain Coming) wouldn’t go away so I wrote it down to set it free. I don’t think that was really the start. Like most authors, I’ve always loved stories and writing. I still have my childhood collection of picture books and I was lucky enough to begin life with parents and grandparents who read to me.
As a university education student I ignored advice to select a variety of electives and instead followed my heart, which favoured children’s literature. I completed four courses in children’s literature, as well the compulsory courses Language Arts One and Two, under the tutorage of Mem Fox. I think it was always in the stars that I was going to write for children.
How has the journey to this point been? Can you give us a basic rundown?
When my first book came out I pretty much ignored it and the initial print run of 10 thousand copies sold out within months. There was no social media and I didn’t do school visits. The book was a CBCA Notable but I wasn’t aware a Notable list even existed. (Without social media it was mainly school librarians who accessed the Notables.) I didn’t realise the subsequent American edition was a big deal; I assumed it was the natural process. So I sat on my hands for a decade while the book sold thousands of copies around the world. I now realise that was a bit of a dream run. Nothing’s been quite that smooth since!
I sold a few more stories without an agent, submitting by snail mail to the slush pile, just as I had with Big Rain Coming. Even back then it was said that about 1% of slush was published. For many years now I’ve been fortunate to work with Pippa Masson at Curtis Brown. Having an excellent agent definitely helps to build and maintain a career.
What's been the hardest part of your writing/publishing experience so far? And the most enjoyable?
Sometimes it all feels hard. Lots of work is rejected. The industry is competitive and celebrity writers take up space, so do international creators. The crowded market can be overwhelming. But writing picture books is what I love to do. I also adore reading and sharing them. I was a picture book lover before I was a picture book author and sometimes I can’t believe I’m actually part of the industry. To think that grown-ups and children share my books together. How did that happen? It’s magic.
Would you go back and change anything?
Where would you like to be in 5 years time? And 10? Or, what are your plans for the future?
(Future plans – is this where I plug the new book?) I hope to continue writing and publishing picture books until I’m in the retirement village, and maybe then too. In the near future I have a new book (subtle enough?) titled Tell `em. I’m super excited about this one because it’s such an amazing collaboration between a team of creators including the children of Manyallaluk School in the Northern Territory. The book is about them and 100% of author royalties will be directed to the school. It’s co-authored by Rosemary Sullivan and illustrated by Karen Briggs. It’s so beautiful. I’m very proud of it.
What's one piece of advice you'd give to new writers just starting out?
Don’t undersell yourself or your work. Don’t give everything away for free. Value what you do and expect others to as well.
And most importantly...
Ketchup or Mayo? - I’ll take the tomato sauce if it’s my dad’s homemade variety.
Night or Day? - Day
Inside or Outside? - Out if it’s warm. In if it’s cold.
Dogs or Cats? - Both
Twitter or Facebook? - Neither. Both.
ebook or Paperback? - Paperback.
Sun or Rain? - Sun
Keyboard or Pencil & Notebook? - Both but mainly keyboard
Chips or Chocolate? - Chocolate
Want to guest blog or be interviewed? Got a cover reveal or book coming out?
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