Thursday, August 21, 2014

Whoa Nelly, it was a wild ride...

Well the days just galloped past and before I could yell, 'Whoa Nelly,' the residency came to an end. I had my last day at the office today. Tomorrow I pack my bags and move out of the writer's cottage. I take part in the Dunedin Storylines Family Day on Saturday and the Christchurch Storylines Family Day on Sunday and then I am off home. Weird.

It has been a wild ride.

I have spent time with the coolest people. Teachers, and teachers of teachers. Fellow fellows. Students: undergraduate, postgraduate and PhD. Primary, intermediate and secondary too. Librarians, booksellers, writers: for adults and children (and those strange creatures inbetween), illustrators and old friends. I have flown backwards and forwards. And then backwards again. I know that the airbus is the A320 and that D is not a window seat, except when you are on the ar72. I never put my carry-on in the overhead lockers. I have a fair idea what ice on the pavement looks like and know not to cross the road until you are sure the cars are going to be able to stop. I have admired the gentle behaviour of flakes of snow slowly drifting down. Stone buildings are cool.

I have been busy. Not all of the events I have been involved in resulted from my being the Children's Writer in Residence. Some came about because of other things. And some events were the love children of the residency and other things coming together. The word 'organic' took on a whole new meaning this year. In a different year I think the residency would have had a very different flavour. 2014's flavour was 'wild ride'.  It came chocolate dipped with crushed nuts and a flake. 

But now the adventure is over and soon normal transmission will resume. My SO said at the beginning of the residency that it would change me and I scoffed back then at the suggestion. But now I think he's right. It has. And I am different. Hopefully, on the whole, for the better. If you think you might like to do the residency, I recommend it. If you are not sure how you will manage it, find a way. The benefits are real. After all, I am now an ace suitcase packer.

Wednesday, August 13, 2014

The Song of Kauri - story with music

A wonderful outcome of my residency at the College of Education at Otago University has been meeting the other 2014 fellows. I was most fortunate that the Mozart Fellow, Jeremy Mayall, suggested collaborating and wrote a musical interpretation of my picture book The Song of Kauri. After composing the music, he recorded me reading the story, and put the music and reading together with a slide show of Dominique Ford's lovely illustrations. Enjoy!

If you prefer, you can listen to just the audio here

Tuesday, August 5, 2014

I wasn't prepared for that...

The last few days have been a whirlwind. Last Friday I launched my latest picture book The Song of Kauri, stunningly illustrated by Dominique Ford. It was a lovely evening, thanks to terrific support from fab writer and friend Tania Roxborogh and her husband Phillip, Jeremy Ross from Scholastic, Kay Mercer from Dunedin Library, the University Book Shop, and all the lovely folk who came to help me launch the book. I showed the multimedia presentation with Dominique's illustrations, and me reading the story accompanied by the music composed by University of Otago Mozart Fellow, Jeremy Mayall, and it got a terrific response. I hope to post a link to the video here on the blog soon. I've had some more reviews of the book too - here and here.

Then yesterday I flew up to Wellington for the LIANZA Children's Book Awards. A Winter's Day in 1939 was a finalist for the Esther Glen Medal for Junior Fiction. This is my first ever LIANZA shortlisting and I was thrilled to be included. The Awards Ceremony was held at The National Library and was a great opportunity to catch up with the Wellington children's literature community.

And then I got a bit of a shock because this happened:

And I got this:

And these:

And this was my response:

- that's me looking very happy alongside Elsie Locke Award for Non-Fiction winner, Fifi Colston.  I'm still in the 'pinch me, I'm dreaming' phase. And feeling very honoured.

Libraries helped shape me when I was growing up. They enabled me to read widely and often. They were a safe haven filled with like minded people. They were like the world of pools in CS Lewis's The Magician's Nephew, where each pool leads to another unique and separate world: an endless supply of adventure, fun, entertainment, and information. Libraries encouraged the writer in me. And they're still doing it now! They deserve to share the credit for me writing this book, cos I wouldn't have reached this point without them. So Libraries, you rock!! This one's for you.

Below is a complete list of the winners from last night. (And here is a link to the complete post). Thanks also go to Hell Pizza who have made a positive contribution to the reading habits of many children across New Zealand through their sponsoring of these awards this year.

2014 LIANZA Children’s Book Awards Winners
LIANZA Esther Glen Junior Fiction Award For the most distinguished contribution to literature for children aged 0-15.
Dunger by Joy Cowley, (Gecko Press)
LIANZA Young Adult Fiction Award For the distinguished contribution to literature for children and young adults aged 13 years and above.
Dear Vincent by Mandy Hager, (Random House New Zealand)
LIANZA Russell Clark Illustration Award For the most distinguished illustrations in a children's book.
Flight of the Honey Bee, by Raymond Huber, illustrated by Brian Lovelock, (Walker Books Australia)
LIANZA Elsie Locke Non Fiction Award
For a work that is considered to be a distinguished contribution to non-fiction for young people.
Wearable Wonders, by Fifi Colston, (Scholastic New Zealand)
LIANZA Librarians’ Choice Award 2014Awarded to the most popular finalist across all awards, as judged by professional librarians of LIANZA.
A Winter’s Day in 1939, by Melinda Szymanik, (Scholastic New Zealand)
Te Kura Pounamu (te reo Māori)Awarded to the author of a work, written in Te Reo Māori, which makes a distinguished contribution to literature for children or young people.
Ngā Kaitiaki a Tama!, by Kawata Teepa, illustrated by Jim Byrt, (Huia NZ Ltd)