Meeting Readers!

It was so joyful to meet readers of books I have put heart and soul into. Even though I did the best I could, it didn’t quite feel real launching Illuminations online.

It was a tough week in the lead up to the Gold Coast visit, as a reading event I was looking forward to was cancelled, and another trip to share the book was also proving impossible to organise.

But now having been out into the community to sell Illuminations (and other books), it feels real and my spirits are lifted.

People stopped throughout the day to chat and sometimes buy the books. It was wonderful readers are still attracted to Magic Fish Dreaming, and many copies were purchased by grandparents.

A massive thankyou to Big B books, for hosting me outside their shop.

Thank you to every single one of you who stopped, encouraged, purchased books, and shared your stories.

Some of my friends shouted me to a delicious hot chocolate right when I needed it most.And lovely to go with more friends, and their families for icecream afterwards.

A big thank you to my daughter and husband for their support on the day and to the wonderful staff of Big B Books.

June XXX

Helene Magisson Dazzles with her first illustrated and written book, Claudette

We welcome Helene Magisson, the wonderful illustrator of Magic Fish Dreaming to the blog for a conversation which is sure to inspire aspiring author/illustrators.

We are so delighted to announce that Helene has published her first ever written and illustrated book with the equally amazing publisher Red Paper Kite ! In the conversation that follows Helene shares her dizzying and wonderful journey and some thoughts on the power of picture books and story.


June: I have enjoyed following your journey as a creative and having worked with you also the process by which you work, Helene how does it feel now to have your first ever written and illustrated book?

Helene: For me, writing and illustrating CLAUDETTE, is a new and very exciting adventure that I would like to continue and develop. It has been such a real pleasure of great creativity.

June: What was different about illustrating your own story as opposed to illustrating the stories of others?

Helene: When I illustrate someone else’s manuscript, my role is to complement the text, and of course, I would never infringe on the author’s space at all. Also, the interaction with the author to develop a project via the publisher is always a rich and interesting experience.

The process was quite different when illustrating my own story CLAUDETTE. Being both, author and illustrator, enabled me to have lot of freedom in my creative process. I was free to adjust the text and illustrations as I felt. I was able to freely assert my style (in terms of writing and illustrating) and to be myself more.

Illustration from Claudette, copyright Helene Magisson


June: Where did the idea for Claudette come from and how long had you been thinking about and working on this story?

Helene: I always have been fascinated by the world of puppets. It is another creative and magical way to tell stories. Also, I value the idea of freedom (especially freedom of thoughts)

so using a marionette to talk about freedom was an interesting tool in my opinion.

Helene Magisson

I kept it on a shelf (just like Claudette in the story) for a while and eventually decided to have a good and last hard work on it in early 2019.

A few years ago, I wrote this story in French quite spontaneously, without the intention to publish it one day. I just wanted to add some new illustrations to my portfolio. And later, my agent encouraged me to work on it and translate it.

Also, as I have a European background, I felt it was interesting to take time to gain a better understanding of the Australian industry.

June: Did it come to you first as pictures, words, or both in combination?

Illustration from Claudette, Copyright Helene Magisson

Helene: It really came as a combination. For me writing and illustrating work strongly together. It is fantastic to have the ability to tell a story through images and words. The story can then be developed in both ways simultaneously. I could not separate them.


June: How will launching this book differ from being part of the launches of other books, what do you notice about the differences in the way an illustrator versus an author have to approach the launching of the book?


Helene: This time I have to carry the entire job myself. I have to be creative in both ways, so thankfully, I have the support of Claudette, the real marionette that I have crafted, painted and dressed up just for the occasion. Now she assists me everywhere I go and hopefully she will behave herself. (She will be part of an event coming up in January 2021, so stay tuned.)

June: Helene, can you tell us a bit about when you first had the dream to be an artist and when you knew you would create picture books?

Helene: I know that I was born an artist. I have always been very sensible to everything related to any form of art.

I had some wonderful artistic experience visiting fantastic exhibitions in museums or watching gorgeous shows in different countries all over the world that have inspired me and enriched my imagination and creativity.

Illustration from Claudette, copyright of Helene Magisson

But it is when we settled down in Australia, that I decided to become a children’s book illustrator.

I have always loved writing but being a non-native English speaker, I first chose to be an illustrator. And finally, I started to break down language barriers, to eventually follow what I can do with passion.

June: What do you say to others wishing to go into the area of picture books?  How do you think they can prepare for this work and what setbacks might they face?

Helene: I would tell others that before they start, try to understand the industry well, how it works, and how to approach a publisher in the right way. Observe, listen, but most importantly read a lot and have a good artistic understanding.

Creating a picture book is a bit like telling a long story just with a few words, and images are here to support in a clever way, with interesting and strong art skills, what the text won’t tell.

Many people think that creating a picture book is easy, but that is absolutely wrong.

Helene Magisson

Illustration from Claudette by Helene Magisson

June: Can you share a little bit about what it feels like to be a creative raised in so many countries and to now be an Australian creative?  How do you think Australia has influenced you?  How do you think you will inspire/influence Australian and global readers?

Helene: I have so much to tell on that topic! I feel that all my travels through culturally different countries have really nourished my creativity. What would our world be without all these cultural exchanges and mixes! I think it is necessary to keep a harmonious balance between what we can bring with our cultural background and what we can receive from the country we live in, so that we can be enriched and inspired by both.

It is very interesting and stimulating to be at the intersection of two different cultures. In Europe the picture books can be very poetic, imaginative, magical and even abstract. Some are nourished by legends, fables and fairy tales that have beautifully shaped Europe’s culture for many centuries.

In Australia I have discovered a very contemporary and realistic world in picture books with a strong and unique identity full of charm, so close to nature and diverse as well.

Helene Magisson

With my European background, I hope I can bring this poetic and whimsical voice in picture books while at the same time having this contemporary style that Australia inspires me.

June: What kind of books would you like to see in the world for future generations?  Do you have any dreams and ideas for many more books?  What do you think the power of picture books is?

Helene: I would love to see many more books that make children dream and escape reality a bit (reality is already everywhere), books that will enrich the children’s imagination, and enable them to be creative as we will really need more creative people in the future.

Illustration from Claudette, copyright Helene Magisson

Also, I would love to see more bridges being built between countries and cultures. Books make us travel, they open doors to other cultures and other artistic styles. Especially during these times of Covid, books are one of the strongest way to keep an opened mind towards others. They are essential, they are our mental food.

June: Thanks so much for your time and all the best for launching the book.


Helene: Thank you so much for this opportunity. I’d also love to give thanks to the wonderful publisher, Red Paper Kite. They are an exceptional published producing many beautiful books

Book Trailer for Claudette

To purchase this book and also in many local bookstores

For more on the publisher Red Paper Kite

To find out more about Helene Magisson

Illuminations: 19 Poems and 1 Story

Features of interviews with creators and artists, readings, and background to some of the poems, and guest blogs.

 

Illuminations Interview on Baha’i Blog

Shaking Off the Dust

KBR Interview with Ruha and Minaira Fifita

June, Ruha and Minaira chat – Sound Cloud

SCBWI Announcing Illuminations New Work

Queensland Poetry Festival Panacea Poets Reading

Extract in anthology In Your Hands

Celebrating New Books in Troublesome Times Sophie Masson’s blog

Share Your Story Introduction of June Perkins Poet

Northern Lights, the Soccer Lights and Magic Fish Dreaming Exchanged

So happy to recieve two signed books this week, from Canada.

My dear friend Kim who was like an Aunty when I was growing up in Tasmania, gave Magic Fish Dreaming to her friend, Michael Arvaarluk Kusugak, author of Northern Lights the Soccer Lights and he gave her a signed copy of this and another one of his books, Hide and Sneak to give to me.

Thrilled to receive these today, with a note and some lovely photographs, card and pot holder from Kim herself, who is creative.

 

After Yasi, Finding the Smile Within

I recently received a lovely email informing me a Queensland school library had purchased  After Yasi, finding the Smile Within and the teacher librarian wanted to make a pdf of it available to their students and staff.

I was surprised as the book has been gently present online, and only about 50 printed versions of it exist ( it is print on demand).  It was really sad last year  when ABC Open, where many of the photographs and stories from the cyclone and cyclone recovery were featured, closed down, and now  the material produced by open producers and contributors is no longer as freely available.

I am so  glad I made a book with the help of my friends from the Cassowary Coast. Furthermore, I archived all of my ABC Open and personal blog posts and videos that I could and these are available via my sites.

Interestingly next year cyclone Yasi, is coming up to its ten year anniversary.  Last year I was interviewed for a pod cast about it as another cyclone was on its way, and penned and published a story for children based on the experience which was shared in the Spooktacular Stories.

It was quite an experience, to write a cyclone story for children, which I had wanted to do for sometime.  However, I am sure I needed distance from the event to approach it in a creative and what I hope is an uplifting way.

It seems strangely relevant to think about the resilience the Cassowary Coast Community had to find in its recovery from the cyclone, and perhaps the book will be helpful to anyone struggling with the pandemic.

The people of the Cassowary Coast community despite the heartaches, found its way back to joy and growth and creative expression gave many hope!

You can find out more about After Yasi on my dedicated blog to cyclone yasi and the journey after the cyclone.

For all the followers of the Magic Fish Dreaming blog, poetry, story and art are wonderful ways to deal with anxiety, and stress, and to release grief.  These modes of expression were widely utilised after Yasi, although often there were times when it was hard to write or draw.  That is when dance, music and song often helped!

 

Meet the Illustrators of Illuminations

Who or what inspired you to become an illustrator?
Drawing and painting have always been a natural part of our lives as we grew up in a family and community that really encouraged creativity as an important aspect of everyday life and avenue for learning and reflection. We painted and drew a lot with our siblings growing up and it has just continued to evolve as we seek out opportunities to collaborate with growing number of like-minded individuals.

For the rest of this story visit Meet Ruha and Minaira Fifita at

KID’S BOOK REVIEW

Also visit Sound Cloud of a Chat with Ruha and Minaira Fifita

Illuminations featured at Panacea Poets

Ripple Poetry

A huge thank you to the Queensland Poetry Festival team for the invitation to be part of Panacea Poets.

In Panacea Poets, Queensland Poetry Festival administers a twice-weekly booster of short readings from wonderful poets via their youtube channel.

QPF will deliver these soothing doses of poets-in-iso indefinitely.

It is such a great honour to be part of a project to apply the bird of poetry to the experience of the Pandemic, and to maybe inspire listeners to draw on their strengths and optimism.

So many esteemed and inspiring poets – Kirli Saunders, Stuart Barnes, Charmaine Papertalk Green to name just a few, do check out the playlist! I’ll share a few of my faves from time to time!

Here is my reading!

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