Welcome, Michelle Worthington to Books for Little Hands.
Have you always wanted to be an author?
I have always wanted to be a writer. My first picture book, The Bedtime Band, is based on a poem I wrote when I was in Grade 5. Stories pop into my head at very strange times and places, so I have a pen and notebook with me at all times. I read every night, to my kids and by myself. I think that helps to make me a better writer.
Tell us what inspired your picture book, The Pink Pirate?
I wrote The Pink Pirate for my neice Georgia. When I was her age, I had a vivid imagination, just like her. My world was full of dress ups, make believe and books, unlike a lot of the other girls my age. The message I want to share through the pink pirate is you can be anything you want to be, as long as you belive in yourself. Also, never underestimate the power of pink.
Can you please tell us about your other books?
The Bedtime Band is a picture book I wrote for my sons, Jordan and Cody. It tells the story of what the animals in the bush get up to when we are sleeping. I love this story because it has a musicality and beat to it and the illustrations are beautiful. Sandra Temple is an award winning wildlife artist and I we are working on another book together to be released in 2013 called Possum Olympics. My third children's picture book is called Yellow Dress Day and will be released in September this year. It is written for a little girl called Ava who has Rett Syndrome and proceeds from the sale of the books will go to the International Rett Syndrome Foundation.
Where do you get your ideas from?
My stories are like the ones I used to read when I was young. They may have what could be described as an old fashioned style, but they have a timeless message. I get my story ideas from my children, from talking with other children, beautiful places and things and from my life experience.
When and where do you like write?
Being a busy Mum of two boys and working full time, I don't get a lot of time to sit still. But I write in little pockets of time during the day or at night when the boys have gone to bed. I don't have a very good memory so when I get an idea, I need to write it down straight away.
Who are your favourite authors?
I love Australian authors because I think they write with a unique humour and empathy that is very rare in modern writing. Australian picture books had their golden age in the 1970's when I was growing up. Mem Fox's "Possum Magic" illustrated by multi award winning artist Julie Vivas, David Cox's "Tin Lizzie" were the staples of school and home bookshelves. "Who Sank the Boat?" by Pamela Allen , "Diary of a Wombat" by Jackie French and Alison Lester's and Margaret Wild's fabulously simple and engaging stories were to follow, including a stream of Mem Fox classics. A whole generation of Australian children like me grew up reading these books by authors establishing themselves firmly in a growing market.
What advice would you give aspiring children's authors?
Take rejection as a 'not this publisher and not now' and if you have a passion for writing, learn and share constantly with fellow authors and develop a community of like minded people who can support you to achieve your goals. Learn how to market yourself, not just your book. Developing an online presence and learning to market yourself as an author and in turn your publications is now par for the course of becoming a successful writer. All I can say to my fellow aspiring authors is to take courage from the fact that emerging Australian fiction, non-fiction and picture books are some of the best quality ever produced. The new generation write with heart and a uniquely independant voice. Never give up hope that your book could be the next 'classic'.
Yellow Dress Day will be released by New Frontier Publishing in September 2013. Possum Olympics will be released by Wombat Books in 2013. I am working with an online development company to create my first book app called Captain Catapult and the Stuck Pig which will be released later this year. This is a bit of an experiment so I am excited to experience the new face of children's books. In my opinion, 'real' books for children will always be popular because there is nothing better than snuggling up with a favourite person and a favourite book.