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

Launch of Sarah’s Two Nativities – Brisbane

Images Courtesy of Maria Parenti-Baldey, Tina Maria Clarke and June Perkins

On the weekend BookLink member, and Magic Fish Dreaming Illustrator Helene Magisson and author Janine M Fraser launched a courageous book about peace and respect of others’ cultural and interfaith stories, Sarah’s Two Nativities at the Where the Wild Things  Are Bookshop.

There were visitors from Canberra and Victoria in attendance as well as many locals,  from many cultures and faiths.  At least 80 people gathered, with a quarter of them being children.

Sarah’s Two Nativities is a story of a young girl who loves listening to both her grandmothers’ nativity stories – one from the Koran and one from the Bible. Young Sarah is concerned at first about which story is true because they’re so similar.  She realises however, her family’s unity will never force her to choose between the two stories, but accept both.

Tina Marie Clark, CYA coordinator, launched the book as it was CYA which launched Helene’s illustrator career. She warmly endorsed the themes of the book and shared some of her experience as a South African familiar with the celebration of many religious festivals with friends and family.

Janine Fraser, the author,  told the story of the background to her motivation for writing the book. Sharing that she had a challenging upbringing in a restricted spiritual environment, which later led her to leave that environment and become an ardent student of comparative religions. During her lifelong journey she observed many instances of multifaith families. She explained how she sees all religions as sharing the message of love and the question of the ‘mystery.’

Janine gave thanks to her family, especially her grandchildren and to Maryanne Ballantyne who championed the book as well as to the wonderful Helene for her illustrations which exceeded all her expecatations.

Janine read from the book in a gentle and softly spoken voice, with small musical interludes throughout provided by Marie Baguelin from France who played the guitar and Azadeh Shamee from Iran who performed the Oud (Arabic for wood). They brought a sense of both cultures at the event through their inspiring performances.

Helene shared  journey to understand the background of the book more, and work on a sensitive way to illustrate it, respectful of both the Koran and the Bible. She did this through extensive research, with the goal of honouring both.

Helene thanked June Perkins, for being her creative sister and both June and Renee Hills who contacted other faith communities to invite them to the launch as well as the community, friends, neighbours and family present and the musicians at the event. She  warmly thanked Janine for her inspiring story and invited us all to an exhibition of the art works on October 9th, which will include her work alongside other talented illstrators. There were a few original art works from the book available for people to view.  Helene also gave a big thank you to  the Where The Wild Things Are event coordinator Genevieve Kruysse.

Everyone was invited to craft their angels, with the assistance of Helene’s lovely daughter, and partake of koftas and delicious cupcakes. Many people decided to buy additional copies for their schools, libraries and friends.

Greetings from Friends for Launch

You can still post your greetings by commenting on this blog.

Wishing I could be there! Looking forward to pictures of the event. With love from

Kim on Vancouver island, Canada

Wow June! So wish I could come and help celebrate the launch. Love and Hugs

Jane Nicholsen, Atherton

Looking forward so much to receiving Eva’s copy. I will gift it to her on her 7th birthday in December. It will be treasured!

Happy thoughts for the book launch. have a wonderful time. So looking forward to sharing “Magic Fish Dreaming.” with my granddaughter. Arohatinonui from New Zealand.

Lorraine Gray,  New Zealand

June I’ll be just thrilled from the tips of my fingers to the tips of my toes – whenever it arrives.

Diane Finlay, Cairns

June, Congratulations on your amazing creations! You are an inspiration to me for following your dream! I cannot wait to get your beautiful poems and the delightful illustration So! What a team! ✨🐟✨ Cheers to you, Helene, and Magic Fish Dreaming! Keep up the good works!

Lenora Riegel, United States

Wishing you much success with this big day and encourage all those who can take part a wonderful collection of special memories. Unfortunately I’m unable to join you but will be thinking of you all and watching for post event posts.

Joanna Grimmer, Victoria

Good luck. May it be as joyous and as fulfilling for all of you as it should be! I will be there in spirit.
Stephanie Hansen, Artist and Soul Food Blogger, Canada

Wish I could be there too, June. Have a wonderful launch. I’ll be in Venice.

Sheryl Gwyther, Queensland Author, Visiting Venice

I pray that everything runs smoothly on Sunday for you.

Anna Gerard (Mum), Tasmania

Congrats

I know how hard the journey is so make sure you celebrate 🎉 I can’t make it to the launch but where can I buy a copy please?

Bernadette Lawson, editor True Spirit of Cyclone Yasi

Wishing my friend June Perkins all the best for the launch of her stunning book of poetry, Magic Fish Dreaming on 30 October in Brisbane. Also looking forward to receiving a few copies and some Australian native plush toys for the kids here in the Philippines.

June is such an inspiration to me as a writer and creative. All her works come from a place of truth: the truth of nature, of family and cultural identity. Her daily dedication to sharing her knowledge with the wider community is really inspiring.

One of my first memories of June was at a songwriting workshop in 2012. June performed a song about her brother and the tragedy of his life. I can still hear her soft voice and the guitar strumming to the words … “you climbed out the window last night”. Her work has always impacted me like that.

Even though I won’t be home in time for her launch in Brisbane, I hope to be in one of the queues to have my book signed on the Gold Coast in November.

Magic Fish Dreaming promises to be journey into the rainforests and dreaming places of Far-north Queensland. I really can’t wait.

We don’t even have to live in the same country to have a beautiful friendship June.

Melinda Irvine, Philippines 

From: Hazel Menehira < Date: Tue, Oct 25, 2016 at 8:28 AM
Subject: RE: Launch of Magic Fish Dreaming – Children’s Poetry anthology
Good luck and many blessings  for the book launch…I will be thinking of you all on the 30th….ENJOY!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!! !!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!! Hz/Hank

Congratulations on the book. It looks absolutely stunning, and I’m sure the words are beautiful too. Much Love,

Natalie, Canberra.

Congratulations on the book launch June Perkins its such a huge and magnificent achievement to accomplish. Where can I find a copy to buy online? I want to start reading it to my nephews.

Dan Sione Faavela, New Zealand

 

cardfromwritingfriends3 cardfromwritingfriends

The Licuala WINQ Writers Group

 

I so wish I could be there! Enjoy and celebrate you movement forward and fruition of your book!

Sally K, United States

magicfishdreamingmagda

 

Luminous and Jubliant

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Magic Fish Dreaming – announcing the official poetry book launch, with JUNE PERKINS (poet), HELENE MAGISSON (illustrator) and supporters.

This will be held October 30th 2016, at Magda Community Artz, 80 Boundary Rd, Bardon, Brisbane,  3-5pm.

Join us in a delightful late afternoon of poetry, film, live music, dance and song, art, short inspiring talks, creativity, and photography – celebrating the setting, art and words of the Magic Fish Dreaming poetry book for children and families.

June and Helene will share the beautifully crafted outcome and process of their crowd funding journey, which led to 142 backers from ten countries believing and backing their vision for this book.

Bookings Essential

Link for Booking