I’m really pleased to share the news that another of my critique customers, Brigita Orel, is having her picture book published very soon. The Pirate Tree is due out on 5 September from Lantana Publishing. Illustrated by Jennie Poh, it looks absolutely beautiful. Brigita kindly agreed to answer a few questions about her publication journey below.
Brigita has also kindly offered a free copy of The Pirate Tree to one reader of this post, shipped to anywhere in the world! To win, just comment below and I will draw out a winner at random on 26 August. Good luck!
What was your inspiration for The Pirate Tree?
The idea of a multicultural friendship sort of stems from my interest in multilingualism and multiculturalism. I think it’s important to introduce children to these concepts early on, and what better way to do it than to get them engaged with a fun story about pirate friends?
How important was the critique process (no pressure!)?
Since English is not my mother tongue, feedback is vital for me, particularly when it is so honest and constructive as your suggestions for my manuscript. Your comments helped me see the text in a new light which is always a good thing and a good starting point for revisions.
What made you choose Lantana Publishing?
When I browsed their website and then read a couple of their picture books, I realised they would be the perfect publisher for my story. They want to see all children represented in literature so that every child can find a character to identify with. Since my manuscript celebrates diversity, too, I immediately decided to submit to them. That they are a small independent publisher was a bonus because I felt that would be ideal for my first solo trip into the publishing business.
You have already been published in various formats; how different did it feel to get a picture book accepted?
I’ve been gathering experience in the publishing world for more than a decade (as a translator and by being included in collections of short stories/poems), so that certainly helped when my picture book was accepted. However, having my first picture book published as a sole author is different – both frightening and exciting. But I suppose every project, every publisher, every stage of a writer’s career is different, so I hope to never lose the element of excitement and novelty. The frightening aspects, I could do without.
The illustrations are beautifully drawn by Jennie Poh. How did you find the illustration process? Did you get any input?
The illustrations are indeed beautiful! I was thrilled when I saw the spreads for the first time. I didn’t get any input, but I don’t think it was needed. When I write a story, I of course imagine how it would look when illustrated. But when an illustrator reads it, they interpret it differently and I think that gives a story another layer. The final, illustrated version is like a combination of two slightly different stories and I believe that gives the reader even more space for interpretation.
You write in a lot of different formats, from poetry to essays to picture books. Which is your favourite? Do you plan on writing more picture books in the future?
The funny thing is that my favourite genre (to write and to read) is probably MG and YA, but I haven’t published anything in it yet (not that I haven’t tried). But I’m already working on two more picture book texts, so hopefully those two will find a home with a publisher, too.
You are currently studying for a PhD in creative writing. How important do you think it is for writers to learn the craft academically?
I don’t think writers need to learn the craft academically. The only way to learn to write is by writing. But I like to learn new things and challenge myself and that’s why I enrolled in a CW PhD. For me, it has been an amazing journey that has taught me a lot about my writing process and about myself as a writer/person. And I’ve had the best supervisor, so all in all, it’s been a great experience. In addition, the deadlines forced me to write even when I didn’t feel like it – it turned writing into a habit and that’s a good thing for every writer.
And finally… what was the best thing about doing a Masters on Harry Potter? (So jealous!)
Ha, that was a great excuse for when people raised their eyebrows at me for reading Harry Potter for the tenth time! But I also think when you study a book so thoroughly and from a slightly different perspective (research vs. pure enjoyment), you discover things about it that you might otherwise miss. It’s like a treasure hunt, only you then have to put it all into a thesis form (not my favourite part!). This was to some extent the reason for my PhD, too – to dig deeper, to look at things through an academic lens.
Many thanks to Brigita.
The Pirate Tree is published by Lantana Publishing. Order through their website and they will donate an additional copy to a charity working to promote reading in low income households.
Visit Brigita Orel’s website for more information about her writing.
Have a look at Jennie Poh’s wonderful illustration work.
Find out more about submitting to Lantana Publishing.