One of the best things about being a children’s author, is being able to take kids along on an adventure with you through story time fun. Over the past month I have launched the second book in my Adamson Adventures, A Lighthouse in Time. This has given me the opportunity to do just that.
During the official book launch at Paperchain bookstore in Manuka and throughout the many school visits I did, kids were enthralled with my story telling as I took them on a journey from my inspiration behind writing the book to decisions I made by asking those constant what if questions. Every time I began my cutting out story, you could hear a proverbial pin drop in the room as every pair of eyes gazed in wonder and amazement at what I was saying and doing. Their faces lit up with awe when the final shape was revealed. I had them not only intrigued with the story but hooked on reading.
Kids ask the best questions and I always answer them as best I can. Here are a few samples along with my answers.
Who is your favourite character? My characters are like my children, I love them all equally and individually for their own unique personalities.
How do you make your books so realistic and interesting? I like to set my stories in real places. That means I can do lots of research about the area, explore and take plenty of photos and add little bits of information into the story to make it more real. Kind of like adding non-fiction to a fiction story but then expanding on it and having a bit of fun with it. Naturally the caves at Caves beach don’t go back as near as far as I take them in the book, but it adds to the mystery and intrigue by creating a sense of drama and wonder. By the time we finish talking about the Jervis Bay area, Cape St George Lighthouse, Caves Beach, and Wreck Bay, they all want to go down the coast for a visit.
When did you start writing the book? When I explain to the kids just how long a book can take from the initial idea, to writing the first draft, then re-writing and editing many, many times before I am happy with a final draft, they are amazed. I have been showing them the original handwritten manuscript where they can see all the scribbles and changes. This brings more astonishment as they realise even authors make a mess when they are starting out planning their story. Kids learn from this that it is ok to make a mess. Ideas and creativity flows better when you are not concentrating on grammar, spelling and neatness. That can all come later.
Sometimes great questions come from parents, teachers and other authors too. During my story time session at the Canberra Writers Festival and my South Coast book launch with the Shellharbour Writer’s & Illustrators group I had to stop and think quickly when asked these two.
Are you concerned with the lack of girls as main characters in children’s books? And do you feel you have a responsibility towards including them? My initial manuscript for Secrets Hidden Below contained three brothers as the characters. It wasn’t until my publisher pointed this out that I had to rethink it. As my characters were based on my own three sons, it seemed natural and fine to me. However, my publisher pointed out, and rightly so, that the books would appeal to a wider audience if one of my characters was a girl. I had to agree. That being said, I feel there are plenty of books coming out these days with great strong female lead characters, let’s not forget our boys still need to want to read too. It’s a fine balance to get right.
What is your favourite scene in your newest book, A Lighthouse in Time? I had to think long and hard about this one. Then I remembered the feeling I had when I re-read the manuscript after leaving it to rest for a few months. When I reached a certain part in the story I had tingles. I sat and thought, ‘wow, did I really write that?’ I’m not going to give the scene away, you’ll have to read the book and decide for yourself which scene you think I might be talking about.
I loved being swamped by kids asking for my autograph. I felt special and was honoured by how excited they all were to meet me. I was even stopped on the stairs outside the National Library of Australia as I left after my session at the Canberra Writer’s Festival. A young fan who had just bought A Lighthouse in Time raced over to greet me, show me she had the book and eagerly pulled a pen from her bag for me to sign her copy. It made my day.
Do you attend book launches and events? What are some of your most memorable experiences? Let’s chat in the comment section below.
A Lighthouse in Time is now available here on my website along with Secrets Hidden Below. https://sandrabennettauthor.com/books#the-adamson-adventures
Or through Elephant Tree Publishing.
Both books are also available through your local bookstore. If they don’t have either of them, simply ask them to order through Peribo Distributors.