Writing a Children’s Book

Views on writing a children’s book from the newest author off the press—me.

Yet to feel the sting of naysayers, the unnecessary but reasonable hurt of seeing my hard work slandered, I have leapt in with both feet to produce a book.

My writing story begins at age ten, where I placed in an Australia wide writing competition with my story ‘I Hate Sardines’, a compelling read I recoiled from a half-eaten sardine sandwich to belt out, about me, hating sardines. Note to you, mum—I still hate them. I won a backpack of junk and a writing lesson coached by a real, live author.

Sparkle, sparkle, starry-eyed kid.

Soon after, I began to write my own book. Writing a children’s book as a child certainly had its advantages. I didn’t have to think what my target market would like or say, as I was my target market.

Growing up on an acre-and-a-half block with my family’s varying but always an ample array of pets, naturally, I defaulted to writing about animals. An imaginative child, I dreamt my dog could talk but chose not to around people—and I swear I almost caught her out a few times.

What do our pets get up to when we’re not around?

My family had a lot of birds—cockatiels, budgies, lorikeets, a pair of exotic South American parrots. Come Saturday morning the feathered circus would leap from the cages and trail down the hallway, pigeon-toed sideways, to join in a late morning cuppa with the family.

I experienced the heartbreak of a bird flying away and the pure joy of their safe return home. What did that bird see and do in her days away from the safety of home?

In a news article I thoroughly enjoyed reading, an African Grey parrot said ‘cheerio’ to his British owner and ‘buenos dias’ to another family. Nigel the parrot was lost with a crisp British accent picked up from his owner, then safely returned home four years later, only speaking Spanish. Would I love to put a Go-Pro on the back of that bird for his cross country adventures! The amazing thing is, nobody will ever know what he experienced.

My book works to capture this childhood wonder, the warm fuzzy moments, the little frays that entwine to form a beautiful friendship, the awkward, the humour and of course, the adventure.

The story follows Alfredo, an exotic parrot who believes he’s a dog, on his unforgettable journey home after being stolen and smuggled abroad, landing into the hands of pirates. From the moment I brought pen to paper, I loved Alfredo like one of my own feathered family members.

Once written, I needed to illustrate.

Luckily for me, I come from a family of artists.

My mum was an excellent painter, detailing the tiniest hairs of the moss that grows on the trees in vivid oils. The ironic part is that she has gone blind, and can still see the absolute beauty in the world, but is now unable to capture it. Her paintings are distributed throughout the family, in various houses around Australia and New Zealand, and hung with a lot of pride.

An early memory I have, at age six, was realising I was good at drawing. My friend Zoe sat next to me in class while drawing, and looking at each other’s work she exclaimed that they were so different. Hers was a stick figure, and I wondered why she didn’t draw something more detailed, then realised she hadn’t yet learned to. It felt special to have something I could both enjoy and do well.

I’m not sure when I began drawing my book illustrations. In fact, I barely remember drawing them, so I know I was very young. I coloured them in pencils I’d had since kindergarten and I rejoiced as my characters gained faces and colours.

As a teenager, I forgot my book as I had a lot on my plate with turning my parent’s hair grey and doing as many irresponsible things as possible. This was a time where I didn’t excel at anything, but my book still sat there, waiting.

After my turbulent teens and terrible twenties, enter coronavirus. Age thirty-one and suddenly swamped in free time, I realised it was high time I dusted off that age-old shiny dream of being an author, and make it a reality.

Four years ago, I kicked traditional living to the curb and moved into a truck, converting it myself into a comfortable tiny home. I’ve lived around the Brisbane region, staying in different places each night. There’s coffee on the roof each morning overlooking the water, and then I work on my book.

Finally, to get serious about my marketing journey for my book, I’ve decided to move back into a traditional home. And the best part? My truck is already packed and ready to go!

Writing a children’s book turned out to be the easiest part—the real work is in the marketing!

“Either write something worth reading or do something worth writing.”

—Benjamin Franklin

#writingachildrensbook #writerslife #writingabook #Australianauthor

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