Yesterday, I learned that Duck for a Day (illust. Leila Rudge) had been selected as a Notable in the Younger Readers Category of the Children’s Book Council of Australia Awards. An hour later, I learned it was on the shortlist. Shortly after, my inbox looked like this:
Thank you, lovely, supportive writing friends. Thank you, Children’s Book Council. I never imagined my duck might quack loudly enough to be noticed. I’m thrilled.
And I’m mindful, too, of the many books that didn’t make it on to the various lists (Duck is my fourth book, my first listing). With every award, there’s a chorus of excitement and head shaking. What about this one? And that one? Why that one?
I did promise the occasional dash of random and I’m not sure I’ve really been delivering. To rectify that, here are two completely unrelated things:
Random Item #1
Surface Tension came out this week. This is excellent and I’m thrilled to see it on shelves. I’m told it received “a cracker of a review” in Bookseller + Publisher, though I’m yet to see it myself. As you do when you have a shiny new book, I’ve taken to picking up a copy, opening it, reading a few lines, sighing, and putting it back down.
Shall we call it Shiny New Book Syndrome? It is an identifiable disorder – I’m sure of it.
I’m starting a new novel. A chapter book, to be precise. To be even more precise, a follow-up to Duck for a Day, whose characters I love altogether too much to leave alone.
When I wrote Duck for a Day, I knew it needed to be around 8000 words (ish). So of course, I wrote 15000. Then I pruned it to 12000. Then I sent it to my long-suffering editor, and she wrote back to me and said, altogether unexpectedly, “I love this, but it really needs to be around 8000 words.”
Eventually, we got there.
My fondness for ducks is no secret. Neither is my tendency to find spurious reasons to write books about them. I’ve talked here before about how Duck the First is out in the world, Duck the Second is on is way, and Duck the Third is pecking at the thin walls of my writerly sanity, begging to be next.
Now I can officially announce that Duck the Second really is on its way. That it has a contract and an illustrator and pencil sketches and a projected publication date and all of the things that mean it is really, truly, going to be a book.
It’s official! Duck for a Day launched yesterday, 1 May. Since I’m in Japan, which makes it difficult to serve hors d’oeuvres and sign books in Australia, it launched not so much with a quack as with a whimper, but nonetheless it should be waddling its way to libraries and bookstores near you very shortly.
As it happens, there are two ducks in my life at the moment. There’s the aforementioned Duck, quacky visage brought to you by the wonderful Leila Rudge …
Today, I’m taking a leaf out of Julia Lawrinson’s blog, which took its own leaf from Anita Heiss (for such is the way of the madly intertextual interwebs), to talk about things I’ve been grateful for lately.
It has been a tricky couple of years for me on some fronts and there has been less writing and relaxation and metaphorical lying on my back looking at the clouds than I would have hoped. Very often, I have felt as if I am simply scrabbling to keep my ground, rather than actually making any progress. But good things have happened. Many good things. And I am very fortunate. Mostly fortunate, in fact, and it is too easy to lose sight of that.
Okay, I know I talk a lot of talk about ducks, about Duck the First and Duck the Second as if they are actual books, rather than just ideas quacking softly in a corner of my brain.
But over the last few months I have been watching quietly while Duck the First came into being. I have seen pencil sketches of a little girl working at her desk, of a slightly grotty boy hanging over her backyard from a branch. I have squeed over colour roughs of Abby and Noah and Mrs Melvino and most of all, Max – the
difficult demanding different duck who takes up residence in Abby’s class.
I have been thrilled and delighted by the work of the wonderful Leila Rudge. It’s not that the characters are as I’d imagined them, that I feel satisfied seeing ‘my’ vision come to life. The truth is that I’m not much of a visual thinker and am not sure I had imagined them in any great detail at all. It’s rather that they are just so absolutely right for the book. Illustrators are wizards, I tell you.
Revisions on Duck for a Day are finished. The book is done. Now is the time to sit back, put my hands behind my head and forget about ducks for a while.
That’s what I think.
Then I open my door in the morning, and find this:
A duck. A completely random duck. On my doorstep.
Is it a sign?
And if so, what does it mean?