Anne Morgan, author and ARA from Tasmania, recently sat down to interview Tasmanian writer and illustrator extraordinaire, political activist and advocate, and SCBWI Tas co-organiser, Christina Booth.
1. How has SCBWI helped your career?
I was a slow joiner! Being in Tasmania, I didn't think it would be worth my while but I met Susanne and I decided to join and go to the conference. Wow. It has helped in so many ways and allowed me to help others. Moral support, mentoring others and being mentored, sharing, building each other up, networking, networking, oh, did I mention networking! Then there is the business side of it, meeting publishers, opportunities to show my portfolio, pitching, manuscripts assessments (for my first novel...still plugging away at that one!). I have picked up quite a few contracts for books at SCBWI conferences and now I am a part of a Tasmanian branch. Because an island is the best place to be a writer!!
2. Want to share what are you working on now?
Ah! Wouldn't you like to know?!!! Of course I'll share. I'm finalising the picture book, One Careless Night, picked up from a successful pitch at the Sydney 2016 conference. I'm just starting the illustrations for another chook book (move over Kip!). I'm writing up a first draft of the script for my graphic novel (I have a grant to work on it and it's been a BIG learning curve!). I'm working on some new picture book ideas and preparing for a busy year.
3. How did you get your start in the industry?
I always dreamed of being an illustrator but pre-internet and living 'on an island' meant I didn't know how to start. Eventually, I was in the right place at the right time, meeting a small indie publisher when I moved to Wagga Wagga with my family. I began illustrating poetry books for the education market. The first author lived next door to Colin Thiele and he showed him my sample work. The next book was for Colin. You should have heard the commotion at my house that night as we celebrated. I was illustrating for one of my favourite childhood authors at his request. He was so encouraging and gave me some great advice. Then his friend Max Fatchen and Christobel Mattingley were next. Each were inspirational, encouraging and offered wonderful advice I carry through to today. From there, it was pink hair, door knocking, face to face meetings with publishers and my first picture book was picked up. I've now been at it for eighteen years.
4. Advice for new authors and illustrators.
Don't compare yourself to others or feel you need to be what others want you to be. Find your groove, work within your own unique style and be proud of it. Read, read, read. Everything and anything, especially genres you wouldn't normally read. Be an apprentice, be open to learning and growing. Don't take a rejection as a judgement on you, use all rejections to build the steps to the acceptance. Understand, when you do get that contract, you become a part of a team working on a project that you dreamed into existence. So many people work on creating a book, you need to learn the craft of knowing what to hang onto and what to give in to. If you are an illustrator, work hard on your craft. Know your strengths and weaknesses. Do intensive work in the areas you struggle in and learn to draw accurately before you simplify and animate any work you do. Gosh, I could type on forever.....
5. Where to from now, CB?
This year is a new world, no kids living at home and I'm learning to reinvent my work habits after years of squeezing what I do into everyone else's schedules. I need to continue working on my graphic novel, I plan to start writing a new novel and creating lots of art and picture books.