Category Archives: Annabel, Again

The Year of Taking a Deep Breath …

… and writing a great many things …

… is here. It’s here.

What is she talking about? you mutter.

Upon which I refer you to my earlier post, The Year of Doing Way Too Much and Nowhere Near Enough.

And then I say this:

In 1999, in an airport departure lounge, I scribbled the beginnings of what would eventually become my first poem.

In 2001, I said out loud to someone for the very first time that I was interested in maybe writing something one day. I remember this very clearly for reasons I will save for a future blog post.

In later 2001, I had an idea for a picture book, and thought it was excellent and bound to be published.

From 2001-2006, I collected approximately 762 rejection letters for that picture book, other picture books, chapter books, Young Adult novels, and novels of indeterminate genre and readership. I also published a few poems.

In 2007, my first novel, Annabel, Again, was published.

In later 2007, my poetry collection, Cleanskin, was published.

                     2782WALK_AnnabelFULL02.indd    Cleanskinhires

From 2008-2015, I published a further 11 books for children and a far-too-small handful of poems.

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Ten Years and Counting …

To quote one of the great philosophers of our time, Life moves pretty fast. If you don’t stop and look around once in a while, you could miss it.

Ten years ago, I was feeling a bit discouraged. I’d been submitting work to publishers for a few years and had amassed a thick folder of rejection letters. There were a few personal notes in there, too — a few “Not for us but keep writing!”-type comments, a few “Revise and resubmit?” requests.

I felt like I was close, but also that I could stay close for the term of my natural life, that there was no guarantee a door would open for me, ever. I had begun wondering how much longer I could justify putting time into this writing thing for nil return. I was working long hours in academia; I had a young child. I was stealing time from all over the place in order to indulge this … whatever this was.

I knew I’d never stop writing, never stop jotting down small fragments here and there. But maybe I should stop trying to shape them into stories; maybe I should stick with poetry, which was where I’d started, after all.

Two months later, I signed a contract with Walker Books Australia to publish my first novel, Annabel, Again.

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The Getting of Gumnuts

A while back, my editor called to tell me that “Annabel got a gumnut!”. My brain cast around for possibilities – was this perhaps the premise for a new, Enid Blyton-style story? Had Annabel, Again sold into a country with an anti-pistachio bias and had to undergo some editorial changes (which I would happily accept! Call me, anti-pistachio nations!)? Then she explained that no, it had simply been reviewed in the Children’s Book Council journal Reading Time, in which gumnuts are awarded to recommended books.

I haven’t seen the review, though I’m happy to have it, of course, but more than that, I guess I just wanted to say that it is a peculiarly lovely thing to work in an industry where praise is awarded on a sliding scale of gumnuts.

This One Time, At the Bookshop

I spent some time in Victoria recently, dog- and house-sitting for my brother in a lovely little town called Kerang. While I was over there, I stopped by some schools, which was great fun. And I also popped over to my hometown, Bendigo, to catch up with friends and family. One day, I had lunch with an old friend and then we strolled down to Dymocks so she could buy my book for her niece. Sadly, they were sold out (sold out!) which made me rather happy. So she ordered a copy and we strolled some more and we ended up, as bookish people do, at a secondhand bookshop. And I ended up, as children’s writers do, in the children’s section. And then I saw this:

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Annabel, secondhand! I’m choosing to believe that someone loved her so much they just had to share her with the world (it’s my delusion and I’m sticking to it!).

The Other Meg

Went to the launch of The World According to Warren at Westbooks last night and what should I see when I walk through the door but a whole stack of Annabel, Again, with a shelf-talker declaring it Book of the Month and nominating me as ‘the Australian Meg Cabot‘.

This is both lovely and alarming, considering how quickly the other Meg writes (can we call her ‘the other Meg’? Can I be the Meg to whom all other Megs will now be referential? What will Meg Rosoff have to say about this? Most likely she will be too busy counting her awards to notice me). The point being that if I’m going to be any kind of Meg Cabot at all, I must put poetry and other worldly distractions aside and knuckle back down to Izzie, which is going perfectly well now, thank you very much (repeat, look convinced).

 

Annabel and Izzie

Made a simple structural change to Izzie which has put things back on track quite nicely. I’m still aiming to have the first draft completed by the end of September, as per my original plan for the ArtsWA Grant period. This will require some speedy writing over the next few weeks, but I can probably make it if I stay focused.

Meanwhile, Annabel has been turning up in some interesting places. She has been added to the booklist for the Victorian Premiers Reading Challenge and is featured in the latest Scholastic Bookclub catalogue. Scholastic tells us that Annabel is for ‘confident’ readers. I’d like to think she is also for thoughtful, quirky and all-round cool readers, but maybe that’s just me projecting.

Launched!

Annabel, Again was officially launched on Tuesday this week. Julia Lawrinson did a fabulous job of making me sound more impressive than I could ever hope to be (as a speechwriter by day, she’s all about the spin!). I spent most of the night with my head down signing books, but am told things went swimmingly outside my little corner of the room and that a good time was had by all.

Olivia and Anna were there on the night (or at least, their namesakes – hi girls!) and a marvellous crowd of friends, family, industry folk and random people who wandered up the stairs to see what all the fuss was about helped me celebrate Annabel in fine style.

Thanks again to all who made the trip out on a balmy ‘winter’ Fremantle evening. My task now is to try and get around to actually catch up with all those I didn’t get a chance to chat with on the night (everyone!).

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