1) Tell us a bit about yourself and where you live and work. How did you become an author?
I live on Bruny Island, off the island state of Tasmania, which is off the island continent of Australia.
I grew up in Hobart, Tasmania, and am the eldest girl in a family of eight. As a teenager I used to put my younger brothers to bed at night and read them stories. I enjoyed drama and relished this opportunity to read aloud and practice character voices. When I had my own kids I loved reading aloud to them too. But I also started writing children’s stories and surreptitiously sending them off to publishers.
I trained as a teacher, but have worked in a variety of occupations, including professional acting. I completed a Master of Education degree in the 1980s and in 2008 I completed a PhD in Writing at Edith Cowan University, West Australia.
2) Do you gravitate toward specific genres in your writing? Who is your ideal reader?
I enjoy writing in the fringes between fiction and fantasy – stretching fiction as far as it can go without it breaking. And without allowing the word magic to creep into my text.
My ideal readers are children with imagination and sense of humor but who have not yet switched on to reading. Then they discover the ‘right’ book for them (hopefully, one of mine), and there is no holding them back. Overnight they transform into the kind of reader whose hands start to twitch if they are not holding a book.
3) Describe your body of work. Which projects have been the most rewarding?
My first picture book, The Glow Worm Cave, was published by Aboriginal Studies Press in 1999. I had two more picture stories published before 2006-7, when Random House Australia published my Captain Clawbeak series of junior novels.
I have also had one book of adult poetry published (A Reckless Descent from Eternity, 2009).
My latest children’s picture book, The Sky Dreamer, was published in 2011. It has now been translated into French (as Le bateau de rêves) by its very talented Swiss illustrator, Céline Eimann. I am looking forward to the release of my next children’s book, The Smallest Carbon Footprint in the Land & Other Ecotales early in 2013.
The Captain Clawbeak series was great deal of fun to write. The Sky Dreamer, however, is the book I wish I never had to write, for this story would never have come into being if my gorgeous daughter, Miranda, had not died in a car accident a week after her eighteenth birthday.
4) Describe your road(s) to publication. Was the approach for your newer books much different than that of your earliest projects?
Between 1992 and 1998, I wrote four children’s book manuscripts and sent them off to publishers. Those early manuscripts are still unpublished. My fifth book, The Glow Worm Cave, was published in 1999. I now have six published children’s books and another in press. But I still have a bank of unpublished manuscripts.
I like to think I know a lot more about writing children’s books now, than I did when I first started out. I have learned how to tell a story and to introduce suspense and humor and strong, often quirky characters.
5) How do you promote your work? What methods have worked best for you?
I wish I did not have to promote my work so that I can get on with writing new work. But having said that, I realize that to survive financially in this highly competitive industry, I need to promote myself.
I have a website, http://www.annemorgan.com.au/.
And I am organizing a launch of the French and bilingual editions of The Sky Dreamer (Le bateau de rêves) next week.
When I email people, I have started including a link You Tube trailer for The Sky Dreamer:
I am also working with the Children’s Book Council (Tasmania) to organize a series of picture books to children in supermarkets, as part of Australia’s National Year of Reading activities.
And I am just starting to contact bloggers such as you, Raychelle, who work in the children’s book industry.
I don’t think any one particular form of marketing works best. My view is that people respond best when they hear about a particular book through a variety of media.
6) Who are your favorite authors? What is on your reading list right now?
My favorite children’s author is Tove Jansson, author of the Finn Family Moomintroll series.
Sonya Harnett’s The Ghost Child is next on my reading list.
7) What are your views on self-publishing?
If I were rich and famous enough to be confident that my books would sell worldwide with very little marketing effort on my part, I would consider self-publishing. But probably not for very long.
8. When you are not writing, how do you spend your time? Describe a typical day in your life.
I live on a glorious island farm with spectacular ocean views. There is a creek running through the farm and sometimes I kayak down the creek to the sea. I have just bought an electric bike, and try to go riding every day whatever the weather (a challenge on days like today). In summer I swim and snorkel. I usually enjoy bushwalking, but not now as I have damaged my ankle. Sometimes I work in the fields, digging up thistles or harvesting potatoes. And then there are the chooks – they’re great characters. I must write a story about them one day.
Sitting at a computer for hours every day can be very damaging to the body, but physical activity is the perfect antidote. Having said that, I need to spend far less time on the computer and far more time moving around. Physical activity is great for inspiration, too.
9) What projects do you have in the works?
Three half-completed novels for twelve year-olds.
10) What advice would you offer to aspiring authors?
Learn the craft of writing. Have faith in your abilities and persevere. When you send a manuscript to a publisher it’s a bit like buying a lottery ticket. Don’t be surprised if you don’t win a contract first up. Take heart from each rejection. Perhaps this was the wrong publisher for your manuscript, or your manuscript wasn’t ready yet. Rework your manuscript and send it off to another publisher.
She has been a teacher and a professional actor. She is also a prize-winning poet, and has a Master of Education degree and a Ph.D. in Writing. Her latest book picture book is The Sky Dreamer, illustrated by Celine Eimann. This is an achingly beautiful picture book about childhood grief, courage, resilience, imagination and hope.
Raychelle Reviews: The Sky Dreamer by Anne Morgan
The Sky Dreamer is a poignant story about a young boy named Liam who is grieving the loss of his sister, Cassie. On the eve of his birthday, Liam takes a night journey with Cassie on a flying ship called the Sky Dreamer. During the course of their trip, Liam comes to the realization that he can indeed survive his tragic loss. He overcomes feelings of hopelessness, loneliness, fear, and uncertainty about the future.
This book is beautifully illustrated in a way that gives it an ethereal quality. The Sky Dreamer is a wonderful message of hope and healing in which children and adults alike will find comfort.
The Sky Dreamer is available on Amazon.com in paperback and Kindle versions.