It’s been a little over a month since my last post and the world has continued to be COVID, crazy and confusing. But here in New Zealand life seems quite normal again, and almost hard to remember the days of lockdown, though we are mindful that it’s ever present outside our borders.
Inside my expanding bubble, publishing things are happening.
Firstly, my Lockdown Diary can now be pre ordered here at Cuba Press and we are just about to send it to print. We have had heaps of orders already and it’s a limited print run, so if you were thinking you’d like one, then get in quick! There is space for you to write your own thoughts and observations on this extraordinary year too. It’s your diary, as well as mine. Perhaps the whole family can add a line or two in response to the entries that mark the time we spent in Lockdown. A 5-year olds perspective can be quite different from a 50 year olds one.
Secondly, ‘The Little Yellow Digger Saves Christmas’ is out in October, published by Scholastic NZ. Written by Peter Gilderdale and illustrated by me, we have paid homage to his famous parents, Betty and Alan Gilderdale who created the series. I studied Alan’s illustration style in depth and replicated some of his favorite characters with my own twist. It was like he was standing, hand on my shoulder, saying ‘You can do it, you CAN draw a digger!’ And digger I have drawn, and some quarantined reindeer!
Thirdly, I was finally able to spend 2 weeks at the Michael KingWriters Centre and take up my postponed residency. There I worked on my graphic novel ‘Ampersand’ and whilst there met with my publishers Penguin Random House to sign the contract for ‘Masher’ the middle grade novel I wrote whilst in Dunedin last year, during my time as Otago University Creative New Zealand Children’s Writerin Residence. Masher is about art, craft, puppets, bull terriers and boys who don’t fit in. It’s comedic and sweet and I’m enormously proud of myself for writing it, and hugely happy that Penguin Random House are publishing it. Many thanks to Vicki Marsdon at High Spot Literary Agency for making that happen!
After my residency, I ran a ‘Draw Like an Artist’ camp for 8-12 year olds at Southwell School in Hamilton in the holidays. 18 of us had enormous creative fun and felt very lucky to be in Aotearoa where we can do these things again, thanks to clear leadership and the team of five million!
Lastly, my entry for the 2020 Parkin Drawing Prize was shortlisted as a finalist and I deliver that to the gallery today.
In 2019 I was the recipient of 6 months writer’s residency at The Robert Lord Cottage in Dunedin.
The cottage remains as the playwright left it and a famous feature is his indulgently deep ‘shub’. My daily focus always came back to the simple shower caddy, modest and hung on a simple screw in the wooden baton on the shower surround, casting layered shadows. Fading and unfinished, like Lord at his end aged 46. The hair in the soap is my own. I think he’d find the humour in that.
Oh…and I turned 60 in amongst all of this and writer, Michele Powles made me this amazing cake. I am pretty lucky to have such wonderful creative, generous friends in my life! Six decades of love 🙂