Tuesday, August 21, 2012

Alison Reynolds and A Year With Marmalade Blog Tour

Congratulations to Alison Reynolds (writer - pictured left) and Heath McKenzie (illustrator) on the release of their picture book A Year With Marmalade published by The Five Mile Press.

Today Alison is visiting my blog as part of her A Year With Marmalade blog tour.

Hi, Alison, thank you for being here. It's great to have you as my guest.

Thank you so much for inviting me to your blog, Robyn. It’s a very comfy, happy place to be!

 Make yourself at home, Alison. Before we move on to my questions and your answers, here is a blurb about A Year With Marmalade:

A Year With Marmalade
This is a story about friendship.

It’s about losing old friends and making new ones.

It’s about change, which isn’t always a bad thing…

When Maddy’s family relocate for a year, she must leave behind her cat, Marmalade, and her best friend Ella. 

The story of the growing friendship between Marmalade and Ella is set against a backdrop of the changing seasons.  

And now over to my interview with Alison.
1. Can you describe the process you go through to write a picture book?

The last few picture books have been commissioned so I’ve been given a very vague theme to explore. In A Year With Marmalade, the publisher wanted a book to reflect the seasons.

My actual process begins with a visit to the newsagent to buy a couple of pens that feel right and a blank visual diary. It has to be blank and then I can scribble down random thoughts and lines. I find that ruled paper makes me feel as if I can’t fiddle around and play.

I always make sure that the illustrations have a lot of room to further the story. I even do terrible sketches that no one will ever see, just to make sure there is something different to illustrate on each page.

Picture books are the only genre that I tend to write the first drafts in long hand.

2. How long does it take you to write a picture book?

How long is the deadline? I am relatively quick, but during the writing process I tend to live very much with the story so I’m writing all the time in my head. A Year With Marmalade took about four days, but that is very much an exception. And they were very hectic days. I was constantly running down the hall to peck away at the screen once I had the first draft. 

3. On average, how many drafts would you do of a picture book?

Too many. Seriously, I draft and draft and draft. I have no expectation of having the story flow out first time. I really enjoy seeing a kernel of possibility and working on that. My final draft often looks like a totally different story than my first draft. A Year With Marmalade did resemble its first draft very closely, which is very unusual for me.

I had written a totally different story that I had drafted countless times and even sent off to the publisher. Then
A Year With Marmalade floated into my mind. So I then sent that off and said, “Can you forget the first story?” Luckily she did. I feel as if the first version was actually part of the drafting process for me to find the final A Year with Marmalade. 

4. Do you ask other people for feedback on your picture books while you're writing them? If so, why?

I probably only show complete drafts of picture books. I’m conscious that it would be a waste of time for the people giving me feedback if I said, “Oh, yes I’m going to change that anyway.” I might send off a sentence in isolation if it’s really irritating me, but I usually only send the complete picture book. 

I’m extremely fortunate to have Dee White as my crit partner and she tells me like it is, which is a fabulous quality. I’ve got another friend, Maureen Edwards, who has a great eye for picture books . I sent A Year with Marmalade to her just before I sent it to the publisher. You are an extremely lucky writer if you have people you can trust not only to criticize your work, but also want your work to be as good as it can be.

5. What else would you like to tell us about Alison Reynolds or her books?

That’s a bit hard, Robyn! I don’t eat horse radish and ABBA gives me a tummy ache. I like writing in many different genres. For a while I was writing choose-your-own-adventure style books, which I loved. Then I wrote a compilation book for adults, called For you, Mum. Then I had a spate of board books. Recently, I seem to be concentrating on picture books. And I have a YA book, and adult novel itching me.

I love
A Year with Marmalade, especially Heath McKenzie’s illustrations.

Thank you for hosting me, Robyn. And best of luck with all your current and future books!

Thank you for visiting my blog, Alison, and for being a great spot by answering my questions. All the best with the rest of your blog tour, A Year with Marmalade, and all of your books. I wish you every success!

Please read on for more about Alison Reynolds, Heath McKenzie and A Year with Marmalade.


Marmalade’s personality really shines through in Alison Reynolds and Heath McKenzie's  newest picture book A Year with Marmalade. Share your favorite picture showing your cat's personality to win.

The winner will receive a signed copy of A Year with Marmalade and a copy of the picture book Lighty Faust the Lion, a book about a much bigger cat.

Upload your favourite cat photo to https://www.facebook.com/alison.reynolds.524 or email it  as a low resolution jpeg file at alrey@msn.com.au and I’ll upload it on www.alisonreynolds.com.au

Alison can’t wait to see your purrfect photos!

Entries close on the 1st of September 2012.

A Year With Marmalade BLOG TOUR
You can follow Alison and Heath on tour as they visit these great blogs:

Blog Tour Stops
7th  August  Dee White

9th  August  Karen Tyrrell

11th August  Tania McCartney

13th August  Pass It On

14th August  Kathryn Apel

17th August  Dale Harcombe

20th August  Peter Taylor

22nd August  Susan Stephenson

23rd August  Robyn Opie Parnell

27th August  Sally Odgers

29th  August  Angela Sunde

31st August Chris Bell


DimbutNice said...

Still enjoying this tour Robyn and Alison...still don't own a real cat!

Karen Tyrrell said...

Hi Alison and Robyn,
Fabulous interview!
Loved learning about Alison's writing process.
Alison, we have much in common with using blank paper to write something new.
I also love to write in many genres and value my critique partners more than gold.
Good luck with your blog tour. Can't wait to read A year with Marmalade.
Karen T :)

Peter Taylor said...

I love this book and this tour. I'm going to have to revisit all your earlier stopping off blogs and follow it to the end. Many thanks Robyn and Alison.

I do use my computer for some writing and for editing, and I think it helps that, whilst sitting there, I can look out on to a small fishpond in the garden. But often I too use exercise books or pads of plain paper and allow myself to write scruffily to the extreme, add strange arrow shaped doddles and circle or cross out vehmently (far more satisfying and therapeutic than hitting delete). Curled up on the couch in some backbreaking position, rhythmically handwriting with feeling and emotion can certainly help my words flow - but I can never write anything worthwhile sat at our kitchen table.

Anonymous said...

Hi Robyn and Dimity!
I know Dimity has a rather inanimate, but cute cat.
Do you have a cat Robyn?

Anonymous said...

Hi Karen,
There really is something about using blank paper to make you play with your work, isn't there!
Crit partners can be magic!

Peter Taylor said...

In my earlier comment, I did mean to thank you, Robyn and Alison, for your questions and answers!

I'd also like to agree on the value of critique partners and a network of writer friends willing to offer suggestions - and editors. All my texts have been imimproved enormously through the input of editors.

Wishing you mega sales, Alison and Heath.


Dee White said...

Great interview Alison and Robyn.

I''m enjoying the blog tour too:)


Robyn Opie Parnell said...

Hi Alison,

Thanks for visiting my blog today. I enjoyed your answers to my questions.

I don't have a cat - or any pets at this time. When I was a child, I had a cat who looked remarkably like Marmalade. She was purrfect!

My hubby wants a cat and I want a dog, so we may have new additions to our family.

Thanks for all your fabulous comments, Dimity, Karen, Peter, Dee and Alison.

Have fun and all the best,

Charmaine Clancy said...

Great interview, lots of similarities to writing novels in this process :)

Anonymous said...

Hi Charmaine,
There are a lot of similarities between pbs and novels.
Nice to meet you. Do you have a preference for writing either? I like both!

Anonymous said...

Thank you so much for inviting me to your blog!
I think you should have both a cat and dog. Then you'll both have a pet to keep your feet/lap warm.
It would be a purrfect home indeed!

Marmalade coloured cats are very special. I still miss my cat I had when I was little.


Anonymous said...

Nice to see you here at Robyn's, Peter.
It would be such a lovely thought that one could write a book and not need to change a word, but I'm sure it will never happen for me.
That's why I love my unpaid, but paid in kind, editors!


Anonymous said...

Dear Delightful Dee,
Thanks for visiting Robyn's for the blog tour.
Only three more stops.
Thanks everyone for making it such a fun time and Robyn, a huge thank you again for your questions. They really made me think.

Robyn Opie Parnell said...

Thanks for your lovely comment, Charmaine. I'm glad you enjoyed my interview with Alison. There are a lot of similarities between writing picture books and novels and even screenplays. They all take time, effort and many drafts. All the best to you. Happy writing.

Robyn Opie Parnell said...

Hi Alison,
Thanks so much for visiting my blog. I enjoyed having you here, so please come back any time.
Yes, Rob and I think we'll have a cat and a dog. Both would be bliss. We don't know what color yet or breed but they'll be beautiful anyway.
Happy writing,