Author Archives: Yvonne Mes

The Many Story Treehouse Exhibition – Terry Denton

The Many Story Treehouse exhibition in Ipswich has come to an end!

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Terry Denton at the Many Treehouse Exhibition

To celebrate this fantastic exhibition created by Books Illustrated we have put together some snapshots.

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Ipswich Treehouse at the start

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Ipswich Treehouse later

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Jill, Andy and Terry together on stage for the first time at the Story Arts Festival Ipswich

You can read more about the various sessions held during the Story Arts Festival Ipswich during the exhibition:

Cartooning with Terry Denton, Peter Carnavas and Tony Flowers

Terry Denton and Ann Haddon

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by Yvonne Mes

Designing a Picture Book with Tony Palmer, Ann James and Janeen Brian

Saturday 12th of September, 2015

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Ann James sneaking a photos of the alternative covers that were under consideration by Tony Palmer at one stage for ‘I’m a Dirty Dinosaur.

This session gave an interesting insight into the creation of a book and the team behind ‘I’m a Dirty Dinosaur’ and ‘I’m a Hungry Dinosaur’.

Author Janeen Brian and illustrator Ann James were thrilled to see the variety of covers that had been under consideration by Tony before deciding on the eventual cover with its equal amounts of adorable and fun.

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Janeen Brian and Tony Palmer talk covers

Tony talked us through his process when deciding on a cover, the typography/ font and placement. Sometimes the illustrator is involved in parts of this process, and Ann James had some input into creating different types fonts but usually the eventual decisions take place away from the eyes of the author and illustrator

I loved hearing how Tony thought he had received ‘an environmental disaster’ when he received Ann’s mud covered illustrations in the mail.

Overall it was great to learn more about the creation of a picture book and the roles author, illustrator and designer play in different.

There is a team involved in the creation of a picture book and as Tony says:

‘Usually the apparatus gets it right.’

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Ann James talks about her illustrative process


After graduating from Monash University in 1985 with an honours degree in Graphic Communication Tony Palmer has worked full-time as a book designer for various publishers. He has also been a part-time typography teacher at Victoria University and is currently undertaking a Masters in Art and Design at Monash University focusing on the aesthetics of typesetting in Mandarin. As a long-time enthusiast of Australian History Tony wrote his first novel for teenagers, Break of Day which was published in 2007. Following this he wrote The Valley of Blood and Gold, published in 2011.

by Yvonne Mes

Writing for the Education Market with Simone Calderwood and Pamela Rushby – Adult Program

Sunday, 13th of September

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Simone Calderwood

There are many authors who love writing for the educational market to supplement their income while writing for the trade market or as Simone Calderwood said:

‘writing for the educational market is your bread and butter and writing for trade is the cream on top.’
This session benefited from the experience of Simone Calderwood, Senior Publishing Editor at Cengage, with over 25 years experience in the publishing industry and Pamela Rushby who has many books published in the educational market and the trade market.
Simone talked about the Nelson/ Cengage’s PM series which are used in guided reading sessions with primary school children.

Here are some things to consider when writing these types of leveled readers:
• Vocabulary
• Sentence structure
• It has to be meaningful
• the story has to have a beginning, a problem and a satisfying ending
• Stay away from the supernatural such as ghosts, anthropomorphic characters and violence
• A tie to curriculum is also important
In the early years children are interested in stories that feature family, pets and friends and as children get older stories can broaden, for example friendship troubles.
Stories that focus on sustainability and include diversity, multicultural perspectives, disabilities and special needs are also sought after.
Authors are given a brief that include a word-list. Simone and an educational consultant receive the submission and if it is accepted the stories go to an editor and finally the illustrator.

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Pamela Rushby

Pamela talked about how she loves writing for the educational market in Australia and overseas. She showed several of these publications.
Pamela’s favourite part of writing for the educational market is the research. She also shared some insights in how to approach an educational publisher and talked about the importance of joining professional groups such as SCBWI, writer’s group such as Write Links, subscribe to Buzz Words and Pass It On, and attending workshops and conferences.

In regards to briefs Pamela said:
• These can be very general.
• Make sure the payment is worth your while. If you have an agent you can use them to negotiate
• Usually the publisher will hold the copyright and will pay a flat fee
• Royalties are more lucrative for the author (Cengage provides royalties)
• Briefs are a competition
• Send outlines, ideas, proposals. This could require a lot of research, but if you are not successful hopefully you will be able to recycle the material
• Sometimes briefs are extremely specific
The best brief is one where an editor approaches you directly and asks you to write a specific book.
Pamela flagged a new area in educational publishing; that of the short text for comprehension exercises.
She finished with these

Seven Ways to Make an Editor Love You:
• Stick to the brief
• Stick to deadlines
• Don’t argue about changes unless for a good reason
• Proofread your work before submitting and check against reading levels if these are being used
• Be professional (not high-maintenance)
• Use the internet, it has made research so much easier
• Send an email or card to thank the editor afterwards
There was a brief discussion around the importance of poetry (yet it is), fiction and non-fiction (these are balanced equally) writing for the USA market (e.g. mom vs mum) and the importance of PLR and ELR in writing for the educational market.
Pamela Rushby has worked in advertising; as a pre-school teacher; and as a writer and producer of educational television, audio and multi-media. She currently freelances as a writer of children’s and young adult historical novels, and also writes fiction and non-fiction for educational publishers. Her historical YA novels have won the Ethel Turner Award for young people’s literature in the NSW Premier’s Literary awards, CBCA Notable Book, and short listed in the Queensland Literary Awards. Pam has also written children’s television scripts; hundreds of radio and TV commercials; documentaries on Queensland dinosaurs, Australian ecosystems, bilbies, the Crown of Thorns starfish and Chinese terracotta warriors; short stories; and freelance journalism.

Story by Yvonne Mes

Nadia Wheatley, Keynote – History as Story: From My Place to Australians All – Adult Program

Saturday September 12th, 2015 – Story by Jacqui Halpin


Nadia Wheatley

Nadia Wheatley is the author of the hugely popular picture book My Place, which has been constantly in print for more than twenty years and made into a TV series by the ABC.
Nadia is passionate about Australia’s history and in particular the child’s place in that history. During her presentation on Saturday morning, she drew attention to the fact that children are often left out or disregarded in historical works yet it was the children who played a large part in shaping this nation. Nadia spoke of the importance of including children in the stories of our past because they were and are an integral part of it.

Children worked hard to build this nation. They fetched water, trapped rabbits, worked in shearing sheds, cleared the land and cared for younger siblings. And it was the children born in this country of migrant and convict parents that developed our distinctive accent and that first identified themselves as Australian and not Irish, English, Chinese, or any number of other nationalities who came to this country by force or purpose.

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Nadia Wheatley and Jenny Stubbs

A sense of place is what inspires and drives Nadia’s stories. Starting at the very beginning of our history with the aboriginal children who called this land ‘my place’, and who have a strong connection the land, Nadia has found a unique and inspired way to visit and record our history and bring it to a young audience in a manner that they can relate to and find interesting. In fact, history coming alive through the point of view of an individual, a child, for me seemed to be a theme running through several of the programs at this year’s StoryArts festival.
Nadia’s latest picture book Australians All, the story of the Australian continent from the ice age to the apology, again shares our unique history in a vibrant and engaging way that encompasses the young. While not enjoying the same degree of success that My Place has (and Nadia has an interesting theory on why that is the case) it is none the less an important and captivating look at our history designed to appeal to children. As Nadia puts it, each story opens a window into our national identity.
For someone like me who is passionate about preserving and promoting our social history, it was a fascinating presentation that resonated with what I also believe.

Story by Jacqui Halpin, author

Mia Macrossan in conversation with author Suzy Zail – Fictionalising the Holocaust – Adult Program

Sunday, September 13th, 2015 – Story by Jacqui Halpin

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I was really looking forward to Suzy Zail’s session even before we bonded over breakfast on Sunday morning.

I was interested to see how she took a traumatic and tragic subject like the Holocaust and used it as a setting for her junior fiction/YA books.

To find out that she drew on her own father’s experiences and memories of his time spent in German concentration camps made the discussion even more touching, memorable, and relevant.
Suzy’s writing journey began when her father found out he had little time left in this world and shared his own heartrending story with his children. To think to gather his family together so they could all know his history makes it obvious where Suzy’s desire to write, to tell story, comes from. In her first book titled The Tattooed Flower she tells her father’s story and how they spent precious time together writing his memoir.
Prompted by thoughtful questions from children’s literature advocate Mia Macrossan, Suzy took us on a journey that was touching, insightful, and triumphant.
Generous with her time and spirit she shared with us her deeply personal connection to her first fictional book The Wrong Boy and how even though the protagonist is a girl, it kept her father’s story and memory alive for her.
Research is an integral part of writing any historical fiction. Suzy told us of the heart wrenching stories she heard from the holocaust survivors she interviewed during her research for her books. How she found her story through theirs, and how their memories live on in her books.
The importance of such books for young people in this modern age, where many have not even heard of the Holocaust, is paramount. Suzy’s aim is to make this tragic history real to the reader by showing it through the eyes of one person, one character, and how it affects them.
Recently back from a research trip to Uganda she shared with us her hopes and dreams for her next project which will give voice to down-trodden, abused young women of Africa.
As soon as the session ended I raced out to buy her books. Lucky I didn’t dawdle as there was only one copy of The Wrong Boy left when I got to the The Book Garden shop set up in the dining room, and I managed to snag the second last copy of Alexander Altmann A10567.

The salesman told me they’d brought 30 copies of each book and sold them all. They could have sold a lot more, such is the appeal of Suzy’s books.
Story by Jacqui Halpin, author

Dinner at the Story Arts Festival Ipswich Adult Program

Saturday, September 12th, 2015.

What a fabulous night, dinner was delicious and so was the  entertainment by Australia’s top children’s authors and illustrators.

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Jenny Stubbs

Jenny Stubbs, founder of the Story Arts Festival Ipswich reveals dessert!

The crowd enjoyed performances by Valanga Khoza and Matt Ottley on kalinga, drums and guitar and Gregg Dreise on guitar.

There was a hilarious visit from Josie Montano and her alter-ego Nonna and Archie Fusillo.

The illustrator battle was fierce and started before dinner with the transformation of table decorations by the illustrators. Oliver Phommavanh as MC pumped up the artists and eventually it was Ann James who took out the title and the major prize of a ‘colour-by-numbers-with-water book’.

But most of all this was a fabulous opportunity to relax, mix, mingle and enjoy the company of the hard working presenters, volunteers and attendees of the Story Arts Festival Ipswich, 2015.

To get an idea of the fabulous atmosphere here is a photo gallery by author Dimity Powell.

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Yvonne Mes, Author of Meet Sidney Nolan and Oliver’s Grumbles

Veiled Secrets – Book Launch – Archie Fusillo and Josie Montano

Saturday 12th September, 2015

Archie Fusillo and Josie Montano launched their YA novel, Veiled Secrets, at the Story Arts Festival Ipswich last Saturday.

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Josie Montano

Archie and Josie’s collaboration on this novel started at the Story Arts Festival Ipswich several years ago. They talked about how the similarities in their lives, including growing up as children of Italian migrants, shaped their literary relationship culminating in Veiled Secrets.

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Archie Fusillo

Two teens from different sides of the country collide on the other side of the world in a little Italian village. Cynical and mistrusting of their heritage, Nick and Lia are thrust into a foreign world of their ancestors by a chance decision. Unknown to each other they set out on a long journey back to the ‘old country’ to appease their respective grandparents, only to find themselves involved in a mystery that could tear their individual families apart. Somewhere in the not too recent past, a misguided moment of youthful naivety threatened to crumble the hopes and aspirations of more than just the people involved. Now, with hindsight, and in an effort to know the truth before it’s too late, Nick and Lia have to put aside their differences and put right the many past wrongs as they uncover a family secret that bonds them for life. In the process do they reveal their own hidden secrets?

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Archie and Josie’s alter-egos, including Nonna, made an appearance at the festival at the Story Arts dinner that night.

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Josie and Archie at the Story Arts Festival.

Yvonne Mes, Author of Meet Sidney Nolan and Oliver’s Grumbles