Interview with debut author Michelle Wanasundera
Hello everyone and welcome to another author interview. Our special guest today is Michelle Wanasundera – welcome Michelle! Michelle’s new book Bubbles and Puddles is available for pre-order and her fabulous (I love it!) website is up! So, without further ado read all about it below…
Q&A with Michelle Wanasundera
Author of Bubbles and Puddles
Tell us about your book Bubbles and Puddles.
Bubbles and Puddles started about a year ago when I began making up stories for my daughter, Amali, at bedtime. She just loved them, preferring them over all her other books! They were a mix of things that happened that day, things Amali loves and I’d sometimes squeeze in little messages to help her with any sort of challenges she had at the time.
Amali wanted the same stories over again and because I could not remember them I wrote them down in a pretty book. But Amali wanted them in a ‘proper book to put on the shelf!’ I decided to find an illustrator and go ahead and have this special book made for Amali!
With interest from friends and family for their own copy, I decided that perhaps other little ones might enjoy and benefit from the stories and so set about making it available for everyone!
I would say the general themes of Bubbles and Puddles is nurturing little ones, love of being in the moment and in nature, and enjoying the simple things such as bubbles and puddles!
What are some messages contained in the short stories in Bubbles and Puddles?
There are many little messages – fun tricks to manage worries, pain, nightmares, all of which have helped my daughter and I hope they are helpful to others.
For example: Belly Bubbles was created during a period where Amali was worried over various situations. I made up the ‘Belly Bubbles’ with the hope that it would be an easier way for her to identify worries and for us to help pop them away.
Similarly I wrote Ow Escape after Amali spent a brief time in hospital with stomach pains. Feeling helpless to ease her pain I came up with a few ideas that really helped her cope with pain, best feeling ever!
Other stories such as The Magic Tail Feather is just pure fun – although it is based on a true story where her best friend found a lyrebird tail feather in her garden. Amali wanted one too, and actually found one a few weeks later, on a bushwalk with her Dad.
You have had some of your stories from the book published in the Natural Parent Magazine – congratulations. You chose to independently publish, can you tell us whey and a little about your journey?
The book was originally written for Amali, and is very special to both of us. And so it was important for me to have full control over the stories and illustrations. She will be keeping this forever – I hope! It’s been wonderful sharing the journey of creating this book with Amali – she has been so excited to see the illustrations as they come through and has loved sharing her thoughts on possible changes or things to add. With a traditional publisher you don’t have that luxury. It’s been a lot of fun.
I love the book’s colourful and playful illustrations by Thana-one Yazawa. What was it about her illustrations that drew you to her?
I was drawn to the gorgeous colours she uses, her skill for capturing Amali’s and children’s simple joys and I especially love her use of swirly lines and patterns which really appealed to me – I just love them in the clouds in Rainmaker, landscape in Joey and waves in Silver Lining. I feel very lucky to have found her.
What is next in the pipeline for you Michelle?
I’m busy working on the second book Hugs and Bugs – which is a sort of companion to Bubbles and Puddles – it includes similar but slightly different little messages such as – blowing fears away with dandelion seeds, focusing on the positives of each day, and of course lots of fun sprinkled in!
I am also working on various other stories – some are based on memories from my childhood, others aim to celebrate Amali’s mixed Australian/Sri Lankan heritage.
Tell us where your book is available and if you can be booked for events, where we can find you.
At the moment you can find my book at my website Bubblesandpuddlesbook.com or Amazon.
I am available for events, please contact me via my website or firstname.lastname@example.org or message me at Bubble and Puddles facebook page: https://www.facebook.com/BookBubblesandPuddles/
Thank you for joining us Michelle. Wishing you all the best of luck with Bubbles and Puddles. I cannot wait for my copy!
Click here for a review of Bubbles and Puddles on the Poo Book Blog by Brydie Wright.
My first author interview is here. I am interviewing Brydie Wright to celebrate some of her recent achievements – being awarded as a finalist by the Independent Authors Network for her book Daddy and The World’s Longest Poo, getting her book into Harry Hartog and her new role as Chief Editor for Sydney Mums Group. Lots to discuss and some book reviews attached also. Enjoy the read!
Q&A with Brydie Wright
Author of Daddy and the World’s Longest Poo.
Was the inspiration for Daddy and the World’s Longest Poo close to home? And what made you decide on this particular family quirk to base your first book on?
I can’t lie. The inspiration for Daddy and the World’s Longest Poo was very close to home. Everyone knows a ‘long-pooer’; someone who disappears into the bathroom for hours on end and drives everyone else up the wall with this quirk. A toilet ‘procrastinator’ I like to call them because it is more about enjoying the quiet time while you are in there, then having serious issues with your digestive tract. I found myself constantly saying to my curious son, ‘Daddy’s doing the world’s longest poo’, realising that my three-year-old would take that quite literally and only I would understand the irony behind it. It seemed like an original idea for a book to me and one that many could relate to, if only they will admit it.
Since publishing World’s Longest Poo have you had many wives/husbands/children approach you and tell you they identify with the story?
For those that don’t take offence to a book that ‘takes the mickey’ out of toilet procrastinators, I have had great feedback. Mothers, fathers and children have told me their daddy or their grandad, or whoever, sits on the toilet for ages. Others have said it is them who likes to escape to the loo, taking take their iPad or iPhone with them. It used to be newspapers and magazines but now it’s reading/listening to ‘iGadgets’ on the bog.
Congratulations on your recent ‘Finalist’ award for Longest Poo from the Independent Author’s Network. Tell us about the award and what it meant for you to receive it.
Thank you, Anne. It’s kind of you to mention. Receiving the congratulatory email from the convenor of the (IAN) Independent Author Network Book Awards, meant everything to me. It’s an annual competition that has an exhaustive list of categories for every genre of self-published book, including Children’s Fiction Illustrated, which is the category for which I placed Finalist (Top 7 entries overall). When I looked down the list of winners in other categories, I spotted the prolific, multi award-winning US self-published children’s author, Carole P Roman. I know Carole’s work and her reputation in the international indie community, and when I saw her name, I knew this wasn’t just a mickey-mouse award. I entered my book almost a year ago, paid the entry fee and waited, thinking I would have no chance in the world of success. Last month, just over a year after I had launched my book, I was almost regretting the decision to do so. This industry recognition renewed my faith that I had produced a high quality, critically recognised self-published book, even if it never achieves financial success.
How was your experience publishing with Lulu books? Did they tee you up with the illustrator for your book and did they organise any marketing or book promotion?
Nothing is perfect but overall my publishing experience with Lulu was a good one. I ordered the complete self-publishing package and the PR/marketing add-ons, therefore it was not a ‘cheap’ endeavour. I had a day job though and knew that I would never get the book published if I handled the process entirely myself and I wanted a high-quality product, otherwise I couldn’t see the point in going down this path. One of the components of the package I chose was full illustrator services. I don’t know who my illustrator was, as I worked through a co-ordinator, but I would say this was the most rewarding part of the experience for me. It was my responsibility to devise the full creative concept and storyboard with detailed instructions for the illustrator. The better the brief, the more chance of avoiding having to pay for changes to be made (only one set of complimentary changes was included). The creative concept for the cover and every page was mine but the illustrator interpreted it beautifully and I share my IAN award with him/her. Thank you whoever you are.
I see from your website that the “Poo Book” has ‘finally hit Sydney!’ and is in stock at Harry Hartog in Warringah Mall. Where else can we buy your book? And is there anywhere we can see you read it?
Yes, I overcame a huge hurdle this week – finding a local bookshop that would give my book a chance on their shelves (on a consignment basis). The former knockbacks I received damaged my confidence and I wondered if the book would ever be stocked ‘physically’ in Sydney. Huge thanks to the amazing Mel and Abby from Harry Hartog at Warringah Mall for giving local, self-published authors a go. They sold my first copy yesterday. The book is also available in the truly wonderful Little Gnome bookstore in Brissie (the first bookshop to give me a chance!) and Book Face Port Macquarie but I need your support to stay on the shelves in these stores! As for online, apart from Lulu.com, the book is available internationally on every good book retailer’s website, in the Ingram Spark network (Amazon, Book Depository, Booktopia etc). For Aussies looking for a fair price and affordable postage, the Just Write For Kids Shop is the best place to buy online.
I read your fabulous review of The Red Tree. I believe you won an award for this review? Tell us how you started to write reviews and did this start you on your freelance writing path?
Gee, thank you again, Anne. All these compliments will go to my head! Yes, I was recently awarded a Silver Editor’s Choice Award for my review of the new stage musical adaptation of Shaun Tan’s ‘The Red Tree’. I average an editor’s score of 10/100 for my WeekendNotes reviews but a silver award means the editor is really impressed. When I started writing full time in November 2016, I found two great blogging sites open to reviews from amateur writers (WeekendNotes and Sydney Mums Group) and I took to it with gusto, seeing it as the way to improve my writing and publish frequently on a 3rd party website. It’s not a gold mine but it has been very well worth it as I have honed my craft and found a niche in reviewing theatre, particularly children’s productions.
This kind of freelance writing has given me some pocket money and a writing voice, when things were looking grim at times with my book and manuscript submissions. Thanks Debra Tidball, Wendy Blaxland and Marian McGuinness for the shares/plugs they have given my reviews on social media and in the CBCA Northern Suburbs group. It makes me feel like a real writer and not just an imposter.
More congratulations are forthcoming for your new role as Chief Editor for the Sydney Mums Group. Tell us how you feel this new job is making you a better writer and helping you to develop your craft.
Thank you. After a year writing reviews for WeekendNotes and sister ‘hub’ Sydney Mums Group, I was delighted to come across an opportunity to apply for a paid, part-time role. Being offered the Chief Editor role at Sydney Mums Group, made me feel validated. The title of ‘Editor’ means that someone rates my skills enough to trust me to self-publish and prep the work of other writers for publication. When I worked in the corporate world, I was always the well-organised administrator assisting the ‘creatives’, and never the ‘creative’. Now, I am the ‘creative’ and I am relishing the work. Writing every day and adhering to deadlines and style guides has done so much for my writing and my confidence. Proving that I deserve to be paid for my skills, is a massive deal. We can’t always just work for the love of it and shouldn’t have to.
Finally, what is next in the pipeline for you Brydie? Are you planning to release any more books?
I’ve waffled on for far too long, so I think I can be short and sweet with this. I won’t self-publish again unless my first book takes off financially. Sad but reality. Having said that, the next material I have coming out is a short story, ‘Magic Beans’ in a self-published anthology called the Creative Kids Tales Story Collection. This was another chance to be published, with minimal costs, so I made an exception and I’m delighted to see the finished product before Christmas. Apart from this, I will keep pursuing the dream of being traditionally published and writing freelance.
Thanks for a wonderful interview, Anne. It has been a pleasure to be a part of your great blog!
Daddy and the World’s Longest Poo
Book review by Anne Helen Donnelly
Does your dad like to sit on the toilet for a long time? Have you ever wondered what he does in there? Well, the boy in this book is in that predicament.
Brydie Wright has tackled one of life’s greatest mysteries…what’s behind Dad’s long bathroom visits.
In this story, boy could not find Dad. He looks everywhere. In the shed, under the table and in every bedroom. Where ever he is, Daddy is being very quiet. Then, son discovers his dad in the bathroom, sitting on the toilet. Daddy says he is hiding from Mummy. But the boy does not understand why his Dad chooses this location to hide out. Mummy is in the kitchen and is well aware that Daddy is keeping out of her way, enjoying his solitude, on the toilet. This would not be her first preference for a hiding place, she explains to her son, but when Dad sits on the toilet, he gets away with not doing any of his jobs, so it suits him in there. She tells her son that he will understand when he gets older. He may also start to appreciate his private time on the toilet, to think and get away from his wife and the chores.
Families everywhere will identify with this story. A commentary on a common family quirk told in a fun way that will bring a giggle to children and adults alike!
“It is really funny” Lucas, aged 6.
“I like when the poo grabs the boy and how the boy ends up like his father” Morgan, aged 9.