It begins with an idea

Backstory: I have the privilege of being a teacher as well as an author. My colleagues, both locally and abroad have expressed interest in my writing “journey” (to borrow the popular reality TV expression) to share with their students. It’s good for students to see how they can make their dreams a reality, and for many their dream might be to see their stories in print. So here begins this series of blogs to share with them.

I have always wanted to be an author. When my mother and I first visited my local kindergarten when I was four, the first question I asked was “will I learn to read and write?” It was because I wanted to be an Arthur [sic], I told her.

Since then, I progressed through primary school happily writing stories whenever I got the chance. I handwrote stories, of course – but also enjoyed typing on my Grandmother’s old typewriter. Writing has always been an important tool for me; I studied creative writing throughout my school career and onto university – I journal regularly and as I became a parent, I enjoyed making up stories to tell my children at bedtime.

This is where Annabel and Turtle began. As my readers and listeners would know, Annabel and Turtle live in a treehouse – I can’t even remember if it was my idea that they lived in a treehouse, or Annabel’s. We told variations on the story every night for weeks – months even (actually, this is where the theme song for the podcast also began). My older two children also seemed to like the story. We liked discussing what Annabel and Turtle would do each day, and I would add it to the story.

I have considered writing lots of things before, and I have many half-started stories. But this one seemed to have a life to it – because I had shared it. The idea wouldn’t leave me alone. At bedtime, the children would request Annabel and Turtle. I was always thinking about it. It would come to me when I was in the shower – anytime I had time to think.  And I didn’t know what to do with the idea. Previously when I’d looked to begin a children’s picture book, I’d drawn blanks. I didn’t know where to start, and after one knock-back, I’d stop looking.

I do a lot of driving, and a lot of my thinking time comes in the car. One day, while driving, it dawned on me to ask my friend, Mary-Ann if she would be interested in illustrating a book, because I felt that this story would have more appeal to a publisher if it was already illustrated (I later found out, this is not preferred by publishers – more on this in a later post!). I was delighted that she said yes, and we immediately began work.

Next blog: The collaborative process. What I put together to show the illustrator for the first time.