Don’t Wake the Troll – blog hop and BOOK GIVEAWAY!



Today I am helping author Ben Kitchin to celebrate the release of his new picture book, Don’t Wake the Troll!

Congratulations Ben – your book is gorgeous, kids will love it.

Now today’s topic for discussion is one that always fascinates me – how did you get here? Not here to the blog but what was the journey that led to the publication of this book?

Here’s what Ben told me…



Don't wake the troll

Don’t Wake the Troll, my first published picture book, came out this month! I am over the moon excited about this.

I have always been a bit of a writer. In primary school I was the kid who read heaps and wrote seventeen page sagas about disgusting monsters, robot wars and evil sewer kings. I continued to write fanciful tales throughout my teens and early twenties but I kept them pretty much to myself (apart from a serialised adventure story I emailed to some friends). I have never stopped reading fairly voraciously.

It really wasn’t until I had children that I began to take my writing more seriously. My wife and I bought and borrowed lots of picture books for the kids and over time we both decided we should have a crack at the genre ourselves (my wife as an illustrator and me as a writer). Funny little games or conversations with the kids suddenly became story book ideas. Five children meant lots of inspiring moments!

Three years down the track we’d written and partially illustrated lots of stories but we’d had no luck with publication. We subbed stories and pictures together but hadn’t made it past a few encouraging feedback letters. This process was a very slow and often frustrating experience as most publishers were closed to unsolicited submissions. Whilst unsuccessfully soliciting agents I was advised to find a manuscript assessor. Another author (who I’d accidently mistaken for a manuscript assessor) suggested Sally Odgers from Affordable Manuscript Assessments. Sally helped me clean up my manuscripts and gave great hints, tips and encouraging feedback.

Then, all of a sudden, after years of twiddling our thumbs and waiting for publisher feedback, my wife was offered some work with a self-publisher (both were clients of Sally). This was fantastic news! My wife went on to illustrate a great little book called Funky Chicken www.funkybooks.com.au .FunkyChickenFrontCover This left me out in the cold though which was a little embarrassing given I’d been the driving force behind our picture book dreams for a long while. I was sulking one afternoon when my wife told me I should send some of my stories to a favourite illustrator of ours, Ben Redlich. Maybe he could do something with the stories? I was too embarrassed to at first as I thought it was just weird until my frustrations tipped me into trying it. I googled him, found a FaceBook page and asked him if I could send him some material. After checking the ideas/themes in the stories weren’t potential doppelgangers to his own I sent him five stories. I was very happy when he said he liked them. I nearly turned inside out when he said he’d forward one to a publisher contact he had. Within a week or two the publishers had decided they’d take it and I lost a lot of sleep through sheer excitement over the next few months. Ben and I emailed each other back and forth during the illustration process and it was a lot of fun to see my little story vividly brought to life.

So now here we are, almost twelve months down the track, and my first picture book has just been released by Scholastic. I still often pinch myself and shake my head in disbelief at this development.

My wife has started illustrating her second picture book and I continue to write stories as often as I can. We both love the creativity and fun this involves and if a switch was flicked, it now seems difficult to turn off!




Thanks so much for that Ben – these stories behind the stories really do excite me. It’s always reaffirming to hear that everyone had to start somewhere.


Book Giveaway


Now for the fun bit.Don't wake the troll

For your chance to win a copy of Ben’s book all you have to do is tell us about your journey (in the comments) to your first publication. It doesn’t have to be a book, it can be a poem, short story, article, whatever. It can be paid or unpaid. It can be print or online – the important part is the journey. I will choose a winner by the end of the week – Sunday 29th September.


To read more about Ben and his new book you can now hop over to Sally Odgers blog.



9 thoughts on “Don’t Wake the Troll – blog hop and BOOK GIVEAWAY!

  1. I grew up in the north eastern suburbs of Melbourne in a rural setting. There was a wombats crossing sign down near the bridge. My Dad loved wombats and often sang about them – ‘You are my wombat, my darling wombat. You’ll never know dear how much I love you, please don’t take my wombat away!’ My Dad’s love of these plump marsupials was transferred to me and I remember being in grade six at primary school and writing a story about a family of local wombats. The story went down really well and I was asked to read it to younger classes. I still have a copy of that story written all those years ago.

    When I was studying science journalism at uni and I had the chance to write a piece on an endangered animal the choice was obvious. The northern hairy nosed wombat. I interviewed Queensland Parks and Wildlife staff who worked with the last remaining population of around 80 wombats in Epping Forest. And geneticists and those working on captive breeding programs for other endangered marsupials. These researchers were passionate about saving the wombats and I wanted to do the best job that I could in translating their passion onto paper. I must have done a decent job because I obtained an A for my first assignment and ‘Geo’ magazine even agreed to publish my article, promoting the cause to save the northern hairy nose. But the best personal reward? Giving a copy of the magazine article to my wombat loving Dad.

  2. I’m looking forward to reading this book and it’s great to discover its journey. Many thanks Ben,Ben and Jackie


    Two men had travelled from Sydney to Brisbane on business and prepared to meet their client. The appointment was set for 11am.

    “You’ve got the contract?”

    “Yep – safe and sound.”

    “And a pen to sign it?”

    “Well, I had one …but it’s gone. Must have left it on the plane.”

    “I don’t have one either. We better get one quick – something decent or he’ll think we’re unprofessional. Which way shall we go?”

    After a couple of enquiries of other wandering shoppers, the two arrived at The Pen Shoppe. Buying a suitable writing implement was easy, but there was something else of interest in the shop – calligraphy. Works were hung on every wall, and they looked good.

    “Are you the calligrapher?” one of them asked the proprietor.

    “These are not all mine, but yes, I’m well practiced,” she said. “Is there something you want written out?”

    “Not exactly. You see, we’re book packagers, and we’re in town to sign a contract with an author for a book on yachting – but we know that Allen and Unwin want to produce a book on ‘how to do calligraphy’. Can you write one for them?”

    Barbara Nichol replied that she didn’t have time, but suggested they contact me …and the next year, in 1987, my first book was published – ‘The Australian Manual of Calligraphy’, which was also released by HarperCollins/Unwin Hyman in the UK and NZ as ‘A Manual of Calligraphy’. Many thanks, Barbara – I’ll always be grateful!

    Peter Taylor

  3. My journey to publication started with a road….and a stop sign. Years and years and years ago, our small local town held a council meeting to discuss a ‘black spot’ intersection within the town. The meeting dragged on with no hope of an outcome (but an awful lot of talk) and the local newspaper reported the lack of progression in a rather humourous way. Seeing an opportunity for further mischief, I wrote to the newspaper with some alternative suggestions for the intersection ‘black spot’ – underpass, overpass, bypass…you get the idea. The editor loved it and printed my letter. The councillors were not so pleased, but did manage to get themselves a stop sign for the ‘black spot.’ Every time I stop at that stop sign, I smile and remind myself to keep writing – it makes me happy.

  4. I’m loving everyone’s stories. I have never been published, but I have written many a fine letter in my time, if I do say so myself.

  5. Small world Ben. I also had an MS assessment through Sally Odgers! Then I worked on the YA novel for a while before entering it in a writing competition and won a publishing contract. It was so exciting. Best of luck with your book. It looks gorgeous!

  6. Thanks everyone for sharing your stories. While I was moved by everyone’s story my very favourite was Judith’s because when I was at Deakin Uni – I too did a project on The Northern Hairy Nosed Wombat and it brought back lots of memories. 🙂

    1. Wow! It’s really cool that you also studied at Deakin uni and did a project on the Northern Hairy Nosed wombat! Great minds must think alike 🙂 I too really enjoyed reading everyones’ stories, so many thanks for sharing.

      Jackie, do I need to send you my address so that you can send the book out? I have a seven year old who will be very excited!

  7. I’ve just read this again and realised I didn’t thank all the entrants! Thanks a lot for taking part. I really like reading these stories as there’s always so much variety. It’s also reassuring to know there is no one “right way” to do things. So many people get there in their own way. Thanks Jackie and Sally for setting everything up.

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