When did you first know you wanted to be an author?
When my ego told me. My first book Big Rain Coming was published more than ten years ago but I’ve only started to think of myself as an author more recently. I began writing stories without a plan. I just wrote whatever was in my head and I still do. It turns out my head is mainly full of stories for children. Of course once you have a book with your name on the cover you want another one, and then another, until eventually you grow quite fond of the idea of being an author!
What makes you passionate about writing?
I’m not special. I’m like most writers and simply write because when I don’t I get cranky. I think everyone needs a creative outlet to be truly happy. Writing is mine and I’m glad that I’m lucky enough to know exactly what it is that brings me peace.
What was your road to publication like?
I had a bit of a dream run at first but then things got a lot tougher. I’ve writtenabout some my experiences on my blog. Here http://www.katrinagermein.com/blog/picture-books-publication-part-1/ and and here http://www.katrinagermein.com/blog/picture-books-publication-part-2/ . I’m fortunate now to have an agent. It makes the whole process less painful.
Because I write about my own experience my work is very Australian. It’s not something I try to specifically to do but my stories naturally reflect my own world. My books revolve around the characters’ relationships with each other and the natural environment. I write about things that children care about and include the repetition and sometimes humour as well. My books are hopeful and fun.
Do you plan your picture books? If so, how?
Sometimes I brainstorm a list of notes on a scrap of paper to organise my ideas before I begin writing any prose. I keep note books handy for ideas that announce themselves at unexpected times but I don’t do any structured planning. I usually have a fair idea of where a story is going before I sit down to write it because the most planning I do is in my head. I don’t start drafting until the idea has been dancing around in my mind for a while. Sometimes a story will still surprise me with the direction it takes on the page. I definitely don’t plan using storyboards or anything like that. I find thinking too much
about the format of a picture book interrupts
the flow of my writing.
How do you present to children during author visits?
I enjoy author visits. I used to be a teacher and have always worked with children in a variety of roles so it’s really nice to connect with kids through author visits. When I visit schools I encourage children to see that everyone has their own stories and their ideas that are special to them. I vary my presentations depending on the age of the children. In Primary school I always show children some pictures of my family and talk about my dog. It helps to build a rapport in a short space of time. I also show them my messy drafts and talk about the writing process. With preschoolers I include singing to keep them involved and use more props which they can all hold and look at at the end of the session. And of course, we read lots of stories!
My next picture book is called ‘Somebody’s House’. It will be published by Walker Books and I can’t wait to see it all finished. Anthea Stead is creating some stunning illustrations and I’m really excited about how the book is taking shape. I love watching a story I have written grow into a book. I think it’s the third best part of the job. The very best part is the actual writing process and the second best part is sharing the finished book with children.