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SCBWI’s “Inside Story” – Brisbane Participates in an International Event


 The Society of Children’s Book Writers and Illustrators held the Inaugural “Inside Story Event” on November 2, 2013.    The event was held in 12 cities worldwide including Brisbane, Sydney and Melbourne here in Australia.   The event had two purposes; to provide an opportunity for young readers, teachers, librarians and children’s book lovers to become acquainted with new releases and the ‘Inside Story’ behind each book; and to build traffic and sales for independent bookshops.
Black Cat Books and Café in Paddington – avid supporters of local authors, illustrators and children’s literature –  hosted fourteen of QLD and Northern NSW’s children’s authors and illustrators.   The event was skilfully organised by Angela Sunde with the help of Pamela Rushby.  Angela was also the MC and kept the authors, illustrators and audience on their toes.  Each author and/or illustrator was given 3 minutes to share the ‘inside story’ behind their latest release.  There were also prizes, opportunities to speak with the authors and illustrators, and the creamiest cake that has even been seen.
Read on to find out the ‘inside story’ behind each author and/or illustrator’s latest release:
Angela Sunde
Angela is the author of Pond Magic, published by Penguin Australia.  Pond Magic is a light-hearted fantasy about a 12 year old girl. Her name is Lily Pad and she can’t stop burping. She is concerned she is turning into a frog, and really is, but you must read the book to find out more.  The publishing ‘Inside Story’ is that Angela was at a picture book workshop and a chair fell on her head.  Due to this, the presenter gave her a one-on-one where Angela pitched the idea for Pond Magic.  The workshop presenter loved it and contacted Penguin to say that the book just had to be published.
Stephen Axelsen
Stephen is the author and illustrator of The Nelly Gang, a historical graphic novel.    He won the Aurealis Award in 2005.  The ‘Inside Story’ behind The Nelly Gang is that Stephen has a passion for Australian History and he has had comic strips published in the School Magazine for 30 years.
Katherine Battersby
Katherine Battersby is the critically acclaimed author and illustrator of Squish Rabbit which was nominated for the 2012 Crichton Award, was a CBCA Notable Book in Australia and was named a CBC Children’s Choice Award in the USA.
Katherine has a boundless passion for rabbits, but explained that due to QLD Law, she can not own one unless she gets a magician’s license, which is something that she has considered.
Katherine gave us 3 secret as the ‘inside story’ behind the Squish books.  Secret 1 – the idea.  Squish sleeps in a stripey sock because Katherine is obsessed with stripey socks.  She even writes in stripey socks. Secret 2 – Brave Squish Rabbit is not too brave.  Katherine is actually afraid of chickens as they have sharp beaks and beady eyes that watch you. She explained that her neighbours chickens watch her as they write. Secret 3 – the cover of the book.  Part of it glows in the dark. The fireflies on the back, the stars on the back.
Christina Bollenbach
Christina is originally from Germany.  She is the author & illustrator of  How to catch a Monster.  As a parent, she believes that kids send us on a journey into the future, and back into the past of our own childhood. That they put us into a time travelling rocket to go back into our own childhood.  One of Christina’s children is scared of monsters.  She told him a story about monsters to calm him. He began to ask questions.  What did the monster look like? What did the boy look like? What toys did he play with?  Christina initially did some illustrations for the story idea.  She was published after being asked for a manuscript after being in the Australian Illustration Awards
Judy Paulson
Judy has an early childhood background with fine arts.   She won 3rd place in the CYA Picture Book Competition in 2010 and 2nd in 2011.  She is the author illustrator of Baby Tawnies.   The ‘Inside Story’ behind the book is that she was inspired by a family of  tawny frogmouths sitting outside her house during the winter. One season she watched a pair of baby tawnies grow.  As she feels she can not draw, she made the Tawnies out if felt.  She then photographed the felt tawnies. Judy got published by getting a contract with Random House at the CYA Conference in 2011.
Michelle Worthington
Michelle Worthington’s picture book, The Pink Pirate, was a finalist in the International Books Awards 2013.  Yellow Dress Day was a finalist for the CBCA Chrichton Award in 2013
The ‘Inside Story’ behind The Pink Pirate is that it was written for her niece as Michelle believed that there are not enough books written where the girl is the hero. The Dad is based on her brother, who does have a ginger beard. The bad guy based on brother’s best friend who is a drummer in a heavy metal band.
Jennifer Poulter
Jennifer Poulter is an award winning, internationally published author and poet.  Her latest picture book  Toofs is about a wolf family.  In Toofs, the baby wolf bites all the other family members!  The book incorporates strategies for helping families with biting kids.  The ‘Inside Story’ behind Toofs is that Jennifer’s daughter is a child care worker. She told stories about kids biting other kids.  They decided to do a book based on the stories with strategies for families to get through the issue.
Christine Bongers
Christine is the acclaimed author of Dust and Henry Hoey Hobson which was shortlisted for numerous awards including CBCA Book of the Year for Younger Readers.
Drongoes is her latest offering.  The ‘Inside Story’ behind Drongoes is that Christine once said to a you’re a dill.”  The child asked, “what’s a dill?”  “Like a drongo”, was Christine’s reply.  The child didn’t know what a drongo was either.  This inspired Christine to write a book about the language of the bush which she finds fascinating.
In the 1920’s a horse was named Drongo after the very active bird. In 37 races, he never actually won. His name became synonymous with someone who tries and tries but is never going to get there.  A book about trying to win against the odds and Aussie mateship.
Julie Nickersen
Julie is the author of the Pippa’s Perfect Series in Penguin’s Aussie Nibbles Series.  In book 3, Pippa’s Perfect Picnic, Julie wanted to bring in new friends of Pippa’s, but the publishers wanted friends from the first 2 books.  The Publisher wanted a pony as lots of little girls like ponies.  The story changed as different elements were added and subtracted based on the publisher’s requests.  Finally the surprise element came and the story was published, but we didn’t get to hear about it, we need to read the book.
Samantha Wheeler
Samantha Wheeler is the author of Smooch and Rose, a book about a koala and a very brave girl that stands up for what she believes in. Sam loves sharing stories about how to protect koala.  Sam got her idea from wanting to expose something that she and others didn’t know about.  She used to drop off her daughter to school and spot a koala in the paddock. One day they turned up and the paddock was cleared of trees, no koala.  So the story came to be about a girl who had to do something about it.  Sam grew up on a farm.  She always drove past a strawberry farm. Sam found a story about a 7 year old who raised $20000 to help koalas.  This inspired her to write the character of Rose.  The animals in the book are based on animals that her family had owned such as the horse and dog.
Dimity Powell
Dimity has won many awards for her short stories.  Her debut novel PS Who Stole Santa’s Mail? is a junior novel for children.  The story started life as a study assignment, inspired by a newspaper article about taking away the post box for Santa on the Gold Coast. Dimity asked “what if?” as authors always do.  Dimity is obsessed with Christmas.  Believing in magic and wanting something so much, and then getting  it against all odds is the best thing possible.
Candice Lemon Scott
Candice writes for both children and adults.  She has published three books for children and her latest release, Silver the Silly Sorcerer,  was published in New Frontier’s Little Rocket Series.
Candice explained, as part of the ‘Inside Story’ behind Silver the Silly Sorcerer that she starts every story with a Person, a Place and a Problem.  For Silver the Silly Sorcerer it was “Silver the Sorcerer was stuck in Muddy Muck’.  Candice loves magic, and the story was inspired by a bad circus experience and a fire trick gone wrong in Nepal.
Pamela Rushby
 Pamela is a Winner of the Ethel Turner Prize,  2 CBCA Notable books and a QLD Literary Award.  She writes historical fiction from female a perspective.
Flora’s War was inspired by a picture of a hospital on a merry go round in Egypt as there was not enough room for all the wounded.  Flora’s War is based on all the wounded soldiers coming into Cairo, and the experience of a young nurse.  Pamela discovered that there were  hospital wards in a local theme park. There was a ward in ghost house and a surgery in the ticket area.  Flora is 16, she wears latest fashion, dances modern dances and can even drive.  She volunteers to drive an ambulance, gets engaged and something happens, but as like all authors like to say, we’ll have to read the book to find out what happens next.
Peter Taylor
Peter is an author & calligrapher.  In 1988 one if his pieces was given to the Queen.
The ‘Inside Story’ behind Calligraphy for Greeting Cards and Scrap Booking began with a visit to the UK.  His aunt in England was 90 in 2010.  Peter stayed on and went to a book fair.  This was held at the time of the Volcanic Ash debacle.  Many people didn’t make it to the book fair.  Many publishers had lots of free time to speak to authors. Peter talked with publishers about the competition for Practical Calligraphy, another one of his books. He spoke with  Master Craftsman Publishers who were very interested in a book about calligraphy for greeting cards and scrapbooking.   They wanted 30 000 words and more than 300 illustrations.  The book was released in 2013.
The morning was finished off with the handing out of a large number of raffle prizes, all generously donated by the authors and illustrators.  The cutting of the inaugural “Inside Story” cake was a highlight, and left many people licking the cream off their fingers for a while afterwards.
Congratulations to all the QLD Branch of SCBWI on a brilliant event.  We look forward to many more.


  • Dimity Powell
    November 17, 2013

    What a superb and engaging round up Sam! Was not aware you were taking such detailed notes but appreciate reading back through them now and reliving what was a glorious morning north of the river!

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