Anne Morgan, Tasmanian SCBWI leader, sat down for a chat with kids' book creator, Verity Croker. Here's what she had to say.
Did you always want to be a writer?
Yes, for as long as I can remember. My writing journey began with my primary school Club magazine. Typed on an old typewriter that punched holes in the thin paper, and sporting a hand-painted cover, our club members took it in turns to proudly create four copies every two months.
Tell us about your published works:
I’ve had four books published: a YA novel, May Day Mine (Harmony Ink Press, US), two chapter books for 8-12 year olds, Cyclone Christmas and Block City (Sunshine Books, NZ), and a textbook entitled Grammar Worksheet Workout (Knowledge Books and Software, Brisbane). I’ve also had travel articles, newspaper articles, short stories and poetry published.
What inspired you to write May Day Mine?
I was gripped by the Beaconsfield disaster, and like many Australians I held my breath for two weeks until the trapped men were finally rescued. I wondered what it would be like for a family that lived in the town during that time, so that is how it all began.
What are your career highlights?
Highlights include articles being translated into Brazilian Portuguese, an article being included in an exhibition in Melbourne, a manuscript for adults being long-listed for the QWC/Hachette Manuscript Development prize, and May Day Mine being a finalist in the Dante Rossetti awards for YA novels in the US. A key highlight was receiving a Master of Arts in Creative Writing from UTAS.
Do you have any advice for authors or illustrators who want to break into the US market?
I answered a call for manuscripts from Harmony Ink Press, advertised in the Queensland Writers’ Centre newsletter, so that was a great opportunity. Once my manuscript was accepted, there were a few hoops to jump through such as having to register copyright, and apply for an Individual Taxpayer Identification Number (ITIN) from the Internal Revenue Service. This was necessary to minimise the amount I would be taxed in the US, so I wouldn’t be taxed on my royalties twice. Other than that, be prepared for some of our Aussie expressions to be questioned and explained, and of course American spelling is expected. Interestingly they wanted me to keep the spelling ‘mum’ rather than ‘mom’.
When you’re not writing books for children and young adults, what do you do?
I teach international students at UTAS. In my free time I read, read, read, walk and swim. And read some more.
What is your advice for aspiring CYA authors?
I think you should read widely in the area you are interested in writing in, both age group and genre. I focus on the CBCA winners as well as their long-listed and short-listed books, to help me select what is currently being published. I suggest attending writing seminars, workshops and courses, and if possible go on writing retreats where you can fully immerse yourself in your writing away from the distractions of your everyday commitments. I’ve attended retreats at Daku Resort in Fiji, and Fort Resort in Nagakot in Nepal, both amazing experiences where I produced a lot of work and learnt heaps. You should also become members of your local writing centre, be on Twitter to find out the latest as it comes to hand, and of course be a member of SCBWI!
Just recently, Verity's young adult novel, Jilda's Ark, has been accepted by Harmony Ink Press in the US, due out mid 2019. Go Verity!