Every week I like to feature an Australian writer and illustrator in PASS IT ON.
Now with the illustrators, once they have been featured in the ezine, I upload their interview onto a blog.
The writers that I’ve interviewed don’t have a blog of their own so I thought I might upload their interviews here. I won’t be able to go back to the beginning but I hope to fill this space with interesting insights into some of our wonderful writers.
So here we go, please meet….
This interview first appeared in PASS IN ON on Monday 29th February 2016 – issue 575
When did you know that you were a writer?
I still have doubts when calling myself a writer but I think I knew I wanted to write from a very early age, however it took me until I was forty to decide to pursue publication.
When did you first read your writing aloud or give it to someone to read and what was their reaction? How did it impact on you?
My family have always been the go-to critics, although I have to take what they say with a grain of salt. Everything is ‘lovely’ and ‘great’. It is a good morale booster, but as an editing tool – it’s totally worthless J
When I first decided to write for children I was quite sure my manuscript was ‘lovely’ and ‘great’ so I asked a teacher friend to read it for me. Her reaction was underwhelming. She pointed out that it was much like many others she had read. I got a similar comment when I won a picture book writing competition run by Di Bates. Di said that I could obviously write well but that my subject matter was letting me down. Both of those comments disappointed me at the time but it was the best feedback I could have had, because over the years I have learnt to write well, but I know that unless I find something to make my manuscript stand out from the rest, I may very well stay in the slush pile an awfully long time (sometimes my fingers turn into prunes I am in there so long!)
What and when was your first acceptance? How did you feel?
My first acceptance was a story in The NSW School Magazine. It felt amazing. To have validation that someone who didn’t know me still liked my work was incredible.
What is your favourite genre to write? Why?
I adore writing picture books and I particularly enjoy writing in rhyme. I try sometimes to write in prose, but more often than not, it still comes to me in rhyme.
How long have you been writing? And what have you written?
I have been writing with the aim of publication for about fifteen years. I started off with stories in the NSW School Magazine, and some short works with online magazines before having my first picture books published. The Big Beet was published in 2013 by Omnibus Books (Scholastic) and Sally Snickers’ Knickers was published in 2014 by Walker Books Australia. A Perfect Place for Wombat (tentative title) will be published by Omnibus Books in 2016.
Of your own work – do you have a favourite? Why is it your favourite?
Probably one of my unpublished manuscripts is my favourite and that is because it includes all my grandchildren’s names. I think it is still a good story, despite the sentimentality of my character name choices. It’s called Benji the Bare-Bottom Dragon, and it recently placed First in the Writers Unleashed Picture Book Writing Competition.
What is your favourite genre to read? Why?
As well as devouring picture books I also do read books for adults. I enjoy crime/thrillers and a bit of chick lit.
Do you have a favourite author?
I love children’s authors Julia Donaldson, Bob Graham, Mem Fox, Dr Suess… the list could go on. As far as chick lit goes my favourites are Marian Keyes and Cathy Kelly. I find I enjoy most crime/thriller authors.
Do you write full time?
No. I have an office job. If writing paid well enough I would do it full-time though.
What are your other jobs?
I work in a small school (13 students in total!) in the office and as a teacher’s assistant. It is a great job, except that I’d rather be writing.
Have you ever won an award/s or been shortlisted? What was it for?
Sally Snickers’ Knickers was shortlisted in the 2015 Speech Pathology of Australia awards which was very exciting.
I have also placed in a number of competitions, including a few Firsts.
Do you participate in writing workshops as a student? Which ones were memorable?
I participated in a two-day workshop with Jeni Mawter many moons ago when I was starting out and I found that inspiring. I have done online courses with Libby Gleeson and with Thomson Direct where Jill McDougall was my tutor. I also attended the Ballarat Writers’ Conference a few years ago. I would dearly love to attend more festivals and workshops but I find that having to work full-time and living in central western NSW restricts my options somewhat.
Do you run writing workshops? What do you include?
I have just started an online proofreading/editing service for picture book texts. I hope I will be able to help other keen writers who might be just starting out, or established writers who simply need another set of eyes over their manuscript.
Find me on polishyourpicturebook.blogspot.com
That’s Polish Your Picture Book – remember the name.
I don’t run workshops although I have delivered addresses to both CWA and Rotary groups, as well as doing readings at schools. I will usually have a bit of fun with the readings by including the audience as characters. This works particularly well with Sally Snickers’ Knickers when it comes time for the teacher to wear her knickers on her head.
How might you be contacted in relation to running workshops or for school visits?
My email address is email@example.com
We all know that would be writers should read and write as much as possible – do you have any other advice?
With picture books less is more. Remember that half your book belongs to the illustrator. Allow them room to do their job. When editing a picture book you are more likely to be removing superfluous words than adding any extra.
Don’t be too quick to finish your manuscript and send it off. Let it simmer quietly for awhile, come back to it, taste it, perhaps give it a stir. Then simmer some more. When you’re really sure it doesn’t need anything added or taken away – only then should you send it off.
How might people find you? Website, Blog, Facebook etc.
My webpage is: www.lynnwardauthor.blogspot.com
My Editing Service can be found at: www.polishyourpicturebook.blogspot.com
and I am on Facebook, look for Lynn Ward – Author