Magic Fish Dreaming at the Big Draw

Courtesy of Ozan Tortop

It was a brilliant weekend reading some of the work from Magic Fish Dreaming at the Big Draw, at the State Library. This marked the first public appearance of Helene and I to share samples from the book.

Perched comfortably in a super red story chair,  miked up, and with a red mat for families to sit on, I read three poems, ‘Wishing For A Fish,’ ‘Beyond Caterpillar Days’ and ‘Discovering Magic.’

I asked if any of the audience had been to Far North Queensland, and one parent had grown up there.  I then explained about the kickstarter and working together with Helene on the book and pointed her out in the audience.  I actually picked her as my illustrator which you don’t usually do with a mainstream publisher.

I talked to them a little bit about fishing and the enormous and beautiful Ulysses butterflies from where I used to live.

I asked if any of the children knew what a Thylacine was, and told them about it being extinct, and then invited them to come closer and showed them where it was tucked away in the illustration.  I invited them to identify the animals in ‘Discovering Magic.’  Many of them they identified straight away and some were trickier like the thylacine and quoll.

One young man asked, ‘Did you write all those poems?’

I then gave out an activity based on ‘Discovering Magic’ and some launch invitations and posters.

Then over at the demonstration art area Helene gave a sneak peak of the story board, and insights into her illustration process. This included a delightful video demonstration.

Courtesy Ozan Tortop

It was great to catch up with Helene, as we are both busy completing a variety of projects other than our collaborative book, and Magic Fish Dreaming, is presently with the designer.  We stay in touch of course via email and phone, but it is always great to see each other in real space.

We loved having this opportunity to present on the same day and we’re thankful to all the organizers for inviting us.


One of my dear friends from Goodna,  Minaira, traveled with a friend to give support on the day. She is a fabulous artist and it was lovely to see her connecting and chatting with Helene.  It was special to share this first public reading with someone I consider family.  I hope to see her illustrated books one day too.


Here I am with these dear young women from Goodna.


Another friend to offer her support, and one of our many kickstarter backers, was Nancy, who came along with her husband Andrew.  Nancy, Helene and my friends from Goodna all took some fliers to distribute in their areas to let people know our launch is on October 30th.  It’s support like this that made our book happen in the first place.  So thank you all!


There were many other fabulous readers on the day  and it was lovely to learn from them how they do it particularly Peter Taylor with his Puppets, Sarah Owens, with her use of kinetics and a bike horn.   It was also brilliant to see Shannon Horsfall, reading ‘Was Not Me’ and sharing her art processes.

Illustrators Anil, Giuseppe, and Lachlan were just brilliant to watch in action.  Anil was so relaxed working with her digital tools and looking at her work in progress on the screen.

My fellow Write Linkers  produced two collaborative stories with the guidance of Charmaine Clancy.  Children made their way to the art tables to illustrate these, and had some volunteers to talk to whilst they did their art, with either an art or writing background.

Upstairs Charmaine was conducting a Writer’s Workshop for youth. I caught up with her briefly before heading home.


To see more photographs and details of the day head to the Children’s Book Council Awards – Queensland Branch  facebook space.

A big thank you especially to Sam Sochacka  for coordinating the program and volunteers, all the Write Linkers who were there in force, and a big thank you to our first audience for making it such a great experience.

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