The life of a children’s author is a funny one. On one hand, we sit alone in our offices, talking to no-one, revelling in isolated splendour. And then term three of the school year rolls around, and suddenly we emerge, blinking, into the light, and into the wonderful chaos that is author talks and Book Week (which now seems to extend for about three months).
If you’ve been wondering where I’ve been, I’ve been talking. And talking. And talking. To thousands of kids. After a week of Book Week school sessions in Sydney, which looked (in part) like this…
I rolled into a week that included a school literary festival, which looked like this…
And then straight into the amazing Word Play program at Brisbane Writers’ Festival, which looked like this…
In the process of all this, I lost my voice, caught up with author friends, met new author friends, and remembered the reason
why we all do this in the first place – because kids are enthusiastic and creative and incredibly entertaining and it is an absolute honour to write a book that a 10 year old will tell you is ‘the best book ever’.
I also answered questions. Lots and lots of questions. And I am here to tell you that if I had to give an aspiring children’s author any advice about author talks and presenting to kids it would be this:
Be prepared for anything.
When you get to the Q&A section of your author talk or presentation, and you are looking out at a sea of waving hands, all desperate to find out… something… brace yourself.
Questions you are likely to be asked include, but are not limited to:
How much do you get paid? (Be ready with a short, succinct answer to this)
Where do you get your ideas?
How long does it take you to write a book?
Did you draw the picture on the cover of your book?
What’s your favourite book?
Who was your favourite author as a child?
When did you know you were going to be an author?
When did you write your first book? (I’ve always wished I could answer ‘when I was six’ like some of my author friends, but this is not me…)
But then there are the other questions…
Over the course of three weeks, I was asked everything from ‘what colour is your toothbrush?’ to ‘does your dog ever get tired of walking?’ and ‘do you have any time to spend with your own children?’. Pulling out a favourite question wasn’t easy, but in the end, I think this one wins:
To show just how ready you need to be, I asked some of Australia’s favourite children’s authors to give me their favourite question from their Book Week presentations this year…
‘Do you sleep with your books under your pillow in case of burglars?’ – R.E. Devine, Jack McCool series
‘Can I have your jacket? / How was your weekend? / Can you dab? / Do you play Fortnite?’ – Mick Elliot, The Turners series
‘Does your mother ever steal your story ideas?’ – Allison Rushby, The Mulberry Tree
‘How do you have blonde hair?’ – Jacqueline Harvey, Kensy and Max series
‘When you were at school did you use a pen or a quill?’ – Catherine Pelosi, Quark’s Academy
‘Can you take your beanie off?’ – Matt Stanton, Funny Kid series
‘What do you want more than anything else? – Zanni Louise, Errol
And now I’m heading back into my quiet study for a few weeks, before my next appearance at Burdekin Readers’ and Writers’ Festival in October.
It’s time to get some writing done.
Are you new here? Welcome! You can find out all about me here, and all about my books here. If you’re interested in talking to me about presenting at your school or event, go here. And if you’re keen to write your own book, you’ll find a heap of posts about writing here, as well as information about my courses, and you can listen to my podcast here.