We love celebrating success stories of our members that have happened because of their involvement with our wonderful community. Please find our latest story below.
From the moment, Deirdre Hanna, founder of Paradise Kids, insisted I write a picture book about domestic violence, I recoiled with consternation. No one else had attempted this seemingly insurmountable task in mainstream children’s literature before. It was deemed a subject too niche, and too taboo for kids let alone the mainstream picture book market.
Nevertheless, Deirdre threw me a bone that day and by the time I’d driven home, I had a story I now wanted to tell. Flick, my main character’s tale became my challenge, my tormentor and eventually one of my ultimate favourites. It was not an easy subject to research or express in ways I hoped did justice to my audience and the community of sufferers, yet the story’s evolution was a joy to experience.
It was a story I did not initially share. I nursed drafts like fragile secrets until I was certain of their authenticity and viability. After all, there had to be a reason why mainstream authors were not attempting books like this for traditional publication (here in Australia).
Flick’s original story elicited good intentions from nearly all of the mainstream publishing houses I submitted it to, including my own at the time, EK Books. However, none was willing to embrace her story and share it with the world; it was just too real, too raw. It made some cry. From these reactions however, I noticed a common thread, the need to increase the marketability of this story in a way that would not diminish its integrity.
It was around this time of impasse that I confided in Susanne Gervay, Regional Adviser of SCBWI Australia East and NZ, confessing my combined frustrations and determination. As ever, she not only supported my intentions but also nurtured my flagging creative spirit, making me realise that just because something had never been done before does not mean it never can be.
I set to task and finally, with the support of fellow SCBWI member and my erstwhile critique buddy, Candice Lemon-Scott, six rewrites and several months later, At The End of Holyrood Lane was complete. This time there was no hesitation. EK Books practically threw a contract at me.
The news came literally on the eve of the 2016 SCBWI Biennial Sydney Conference, which I attended along with EK publisher, Anouska Jones and Nicky Johnston, the illustrator who helped make my first picture book, The Fix-It Man so very special.
Notably, it was the first time we’d ever been together in the same room. What followed were some very emotionally electric moments as Nicky shared her initial roughs and mood sketches with Anouska and I. Contracts had not even been signed yet but we were all already swooning over this picture book and the concepts yet to fully unfold.
The news was still embargoed but there was one person I just had to tell.
‘Ground-breaking’ were the words Susanne used when I told her about my new contract and Flick’s chance to share her story with the world.
Without Susanne’s quiet (occasionally loud!), ever persistent blessings and the feeling of belonging to something greater than just my own doubts and thoughts – the encompassing SCBWI community – I really could not have mustered the confidence to not only pursue my publication dreams, but to tackle harder content picture book writing.
At The End of Holyrood Lane entered the world in September 2018. It seemed only fitting that Susanne should launch this book for me, which she did, travelling to Brisbane to do so. I am forever grateful and humbled by her support and friendship, which reflect the SCBWI ethos to the nth degree. Thank you to Maria Parenti-Baldey and June Perkins for pics of the launch, which was a moving and wonderful success.
At the End of Holyrood Lane is poignant yet uplifting picture book that deals with domestic violence in a way that provides understanding and offers hope to young children. Its appeal extends far beyond the subject of domestic violence, as brutally significant as that is, because this tale is relevant to any child who experiences anxiety, insecurity and the feeling of being unsafe.
Dimity Powell likes to fill every spare moment with words. She writes and reviews stories exclusively for kids and is the Managing Editor for Kids’ Book Review. She has published over 27 stories for children including two picture books with illustrator, Nicky Johnston: The Fix-It Man and At The End of Holyrood Lane . Dimity is a seasoned presenter both in Australia and overseas, an accredited Write Like An Author facilitator and a Books in Homes Australia Role Model Volunteer. She lives on the Gold Coast where dreams sparkle. Visit her at www.dimitypowell.com