Sunday, 5 May 2013

Guest Post - Australian Children's Author, Peter Friend

This week I've posted an interview with up and coming Australian children's author, Peter Friend. His illustrated book, What's the Matter Aunty May, is a delightful story about a young boy who tries to be helpful around the home, but inadvertently ends up creating havoc, aka Dennis the Menace style.
The illustrations are gorgeous. I bought a copy for my five year old niece, and she loved it.

Peter and I have known each other a long time - we started our teaching careers in the same school, and eventually followed our muse into writing.

But, I think I'll let Peter do the talking.

1.  What is the title of your book?
What's the Matter, Aunty May?

2.  Where did the idea come from?
In a sense it's a classic children's theme - a kid with the best of intentions who naively (and humorously) causes chaos! It's written in rhyme. I began with the first couple of lines (I have some questions, Aunty May /
Why did you shout at me today?) and then the unfolding destruction of the
Aunty's house  sort of suggested itself.

3.  What genre does your book fall under?
Children's picture book

4.  What is a one sentence synopsis of your book?
A little child very helpfully tries to help his aunty clean her house, and
cannot understand why she reacts so negatively to the results!

5. Is your book self-published or represented by an agency?
It was published by Little Hare Books (which is an imprint of Hardie Grant
Egmont) in March 2012. I don't have an agent. I approached the publisher

6.  How long did it take to write the first draft?
It actually began as an 8-stanza poem that I had already had published in a
children's magazine (The School Magazine, published by the NSW Department of
Education). I sent the publisher at Little Hare a selection of my poems. She
liked this particular poem and asked me to expand it by three more stanzas
to make it into the text of a picture book! I spent about a month trying to
perfect those extra three stanzas, aware that they had to heighten the comic
drama and make it worthy of a full picture book. It didn't take a month
full-time, of course; I just kept going back to it, an hour here, an hour
there (a lot of hours all together!), until I was happy with the result.

7.  What other books would you compare your story to within your genre?
It's been compared to some of Dr Suess's work because of its rhyming
structure and zany story. But of course it's quite distinct too.

8.  Who or what inspired you to write this book?
No-one and nothing in particular. I just like pursuing funny ideas.

9.  Is this your only book, or are you planning on writing others?
This is my first published book, and it's been out about a year. I've just
had a second children's book published by another publisher, Blake
Education. It's a very different book - a short fantasy/adventure novel
called The Cliff Runner, written in eleven chapters for mid-primary readers.
I also have quite a few other children's book manuscripts (either written or
half-written) that I've been trying to interest publishers in!

10. What else about your book might pique the reader's interest?
The illustrator for What's the Matter Aunty May? was Andrew Joyner, who is
one of Australia's finest humorous children's book illustrators. I love the
wonderful sense of comic irony he's portrayed in the illustrations, and the
characters he's created are just fabulous. He's also introduced a lot of
subtle (and not-so-subtle) motifs that run through the book and that add
beautifully to the overall fun. The other thing that might interest readers
is that the book has just been listed as a "notable book" by the CBCA
(Children's Book Council of Australia), so it seems to be striking a chord
out there, which is wonderful.

11. Where is your book available?
It's available from bookstores in Australia, New Zealand and the UK, and
also on-line: just ask or search for What's the Matter, Aunty May? by Peter
Friend and Andrew Joyner. 

Thanks, Peter. 

If anyone's read Pete's book, leave a comment, or better still write a review on Goodreads and/or Amazon, as that's one of the best ways to support an author.

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