Working in collaboration

First published by Children’s Book Council of Australia – Tasmania on July 6, 2019  

Tasmanian author and illustrator team, Tahnee McShane and Mary-Ann Orchard, share their creative collaborations to bring Annabel and Turtle to life.

Our process in creating Annabel and Turtle was an unusual one; we were both new to publishing a children’s book and we learnt a lot of new things along the way. We knew each other prior to making the book together, and were aware of each other’s talents and our joint passion for working with children. During our initial discussion things gelled and we were excited to get started. We met (almost) monthly in early 2018, at our favourite local café, The Wooden Spoon, in Oatlands, perfecting our art.

Author’s recollection

After wanting to write children’s fiction for so long, Annabel and Turtle is finally here. The story evolved from one I used to tell my children at night to a persistent idea that would not me alone. Driving in the car one afternoon (where I often have my best thinking time) I was struck with the inspiration to seek out Mary-Ann to help bring my words to life on the page, and the project took off at an almighty pace soon after.

What came next was a creative and collaborative process, in which Mary-Ann and I built on each other’s knowledge and ideas. Mary-Ann regularly sent me pictures of her sketches. It was an incredible feeling to see my stories come to life visually in a way that I never could have imagined.


Illustrator’s recollection
Working with Tahnee’s words has been an enjoyable challenge. She had a clear idea on how Annabel should look, which was extremely helpful when it came to creating her. Apart from Annabel, I was given free rein to create. Tahnee was very encouraging during my experimentation period. After I had the characters and the treehouse created, it was time to experiment with colour. Tahnee got to see how water-colour, pencil and acrylic looked, before we settled on pencil, which strongly reflects the soft nature of the text. A pencil is usually a child’s first encounter with creating colour and I felt this would be familiar to the little readers of this book.

Knowing Tahnee was working hard behind the scenes on the promotional and business side of publishing was comforting. Annabel and Turtle have their own website, Facebook page and Tahnee’s whole family have embraced these characters with their entertaining podcasts.

Tahnee and Mary-Ann are looking forward to collaborating further with more tales from Annabel and Turtle in the near future.

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