From Sydney to Paris
I always set conference goals, and my major one for SCBWI Sydney 2016 was to take advantage of the opportunity to pitch my manuscript idea, Beyond Belief, to a publisher panel.
I was hoping to get interest in my story to help me with a VicArts funding application I was about to submit.
I was desperate to spend a month in Paris researching a true story I had discovered about Muslims at a Paris mosque who saved Jewish children during WW2. I had spent all my money on a research trip to Europe in 2015, and it would be years before I could save for another.
But this story had to be told, and I needed to visit the mosque to do it.
Pitching a story idea that had very personal connections for me was terrifying, but if I could get that grant, it would be worth the angst.
All the publishers on the panel were so encouraging, and Clare Halifax from Scholastic generously wrote a letter to support my funding application.
Thanks to my pitch at the SCBWI conference, and Clare's belief in my story, I was successful in getting the money for my trip and in April 2017 I spent an amazing month at the mosque, in synagogues, at a wine market (all in the name of research) and exploring the Paris sewers. Being able to immerse myself in the world of my story has added a new layer of richness to it.
It has been an amazing journey. I have uncovered secrets, spoken to Holocaust survivors, drunk mint tea in a beautiful mosque, and sat in the oldest synagogue in Paris.
Thanks to this opportunity at SCBWI Sydney 2016, Beyond Belief will be published by Scholastic Australia next year.