Next Big Thing Author blog

I’ve been tagged by Wendy Orr in a “Next Big Thing” author blog event where authors answer ten questions about their current, most recent, or upcoming book, then tag two or more other authors who blog about their books a week later. We all answer the same ten questions about our book…

“The Next Big Thing”

Australian authors are tagging each other to write about the big project on their minds at the moment - and I’ve been tagged by the lovely
Wendy Orr. I couldn’t find anybody who was ready to be tagged this week, so instead I’d like to send you off to visit the website of Ursula Dubosarsky. I also adore the work of Jeannie Baker.

But today, I’m telling you about my next big project, and that is :

I’m turning my very first book that I ever wrote,
Gordon’s Biscuit, into an eBook!

Original cover illustration for
Gordon’s Biscuit - first published in 1996 by Angus & Robertson

1) What is the working title of your next book?

The working title is, Gordon’s Biscuit.

Gordons Biscuit cover
Cover of Penguin edition, published in 2006

2) Where did the idea come from for the book?

I was sitting beside the fire trying to think of an idea for a story. I love dogs and had a funny scruffy little one at the time called Meg who had wisps of fur on the tips of her ears, and whose shaggy coat used to express how she was feeling. I also had small children and I loved their relationship with Meg.
The first idea was that Ellie (who became “Ella”) and Sam, the two main characters, would be trying to do something for their big shaggy dog, Gordon, and the idea of making a biscuit for him came quickly to mind because dogs and kids all like food! I stayed with that idea, even though it evolved a lot.

The first draft was a series of drawings scribbled in turquoise ink on one big sheet of paper.

The first draft was made in turquoise ink on an A3 piece of paper - here are bits of it - you can see how the ink has gone dark in places.

The idea for the eBook came from hearing from people that they loved the book, but it has been out of print for awhile, so I want to bring it to life again myself without going through a publisher, and to learn how to make eBooks so I can start making some more!

3) What genre does your book fall under?

I suppose the genre is picture book for younger readers. Mind you, I know kids who were still enjoying the original book as they got older and older - I have put lots and lots of little extra bits in the drawings so every time you read it you may discover something else, and little stories that are happening behind the story that I’ve told in the words.


I wanted to create a book that little people and big people could read together. Now I want to create a new book which will be available on the new technologies that are in people’s lives, as well as people being able to order one if they prefer a paper copy.

I’m excited to do an eBook because it will allow me to add bits and pieces and grow
Gordon’s Biscuit into a new kind of book - the original book could only have 32 pages because of the way books are manufactured, but this one can have a few more if I like! And I like!!!

4) What actors would you choose to play the part of your characters in a movie rendition?

Hmmm… I don’t actually have any idea … but I think it would be fun watching people and dogs and a duck and ducklings try out for the parts! In fact, I was once at a school giving a talk, and one classroom was putting on “Gordon’s Biscuit” as a play! It was great!!!!

5) What is the one-sentence synopsis of your book?

One shaggy dog who loves biscuits and the park, two kids who love the shaggy dog, lots and lots of biscuits, and a whole neighbourhood who come to the rescue when a new man at the park puts up a sign saying, NO DOGS.

6) Will your book be self-published or represented by an agency?

In the past I have worked with publishers, but this time I will self-publish for the first time. I’m very excited about this because once I learn how to do it, I’ll be able to write and illustrate lots more stories of my own. The trick is that when you make a book through a publisher, you get a talented editor who helps you turn a lump of clay into a book; I don’t want to end up just publishing lots of lumps of clay!

7) How long did it take you to write the first draft of the manuscript?

The first draft of the original book, scribbling little drawings in turquoise ink on an A3 sheet of paper, took a few hours to make while I was sitting by the fire one winter Sunday afternoon.
Making all of the necessary tweakings and fixings and developing of the story until a final manuscript was ready took two years.
First typed manuscript of Gordon’s Biscuit - this is the whole story - and was typed on a real typewriter, the one that my family gave me so they could actually read my letters to them! There were LOTS of versions after this one and the story changed a great deal.

I haven’t yet made the first eManuscript so I don’t know yet how long that will take. Most of the time will be taken in learning how to do this, but I love learning so it should be fun. I have the original scanned images from the original book, but don’t have a computer program that can read them! Oops… Luckily I still have all of the original artwork, some of which has been seen by lots and lots and lots of kids from when I have visited schools to talk about being an author and an illustrator. The images on this page are scans of the original artwork done on my little machine. It’s a bit tricky because the pages are a LOT bigger than the scanner! In the book, the background colour will be crisp white rather than the funny yellowish colour here.

8) What other books would you compare this story to within your genre?

I’d like to think that it has a bit of the feel of a Bob Graham book in that he gives us warm relationships - and visual detail and little stories happening beside the one in the words.

9) Who or what inspired you to write this book?

My editor at Angus and Robertson, Cathie Tasker, with whom I had illustrated a few books including Wendy Orr’s Ark in The Park, asked me if I’d like to write my own book. Yes!, I said!

So that was the inspiration to create the original book. The inspiration for the eBook and print-on-demand version has come from all of the people over the past few years who have said they remember the book from their or their children’s childhood, that it was their favourite book, that they remember reading it over and over, and want more copies, and want to share it with more children. That is heartwarming.

10) What else about the book might pique the reader's interest?

If people haven’t seen the story, I can assure them that they will discover a fantastical park and a biscuit shop like no other! For people who know the book, I am excited that I’ll be able to add a few new pages, including letting readers in on a lot of the other stories and ideas I’ve hidden in the illustrations. It will give everybody even more adventures to share when they read it together.

Once I’ve learned what this new technology can do, who know what else might happen?!

Stay tuned...

Gordon's eBiscuit!

I’ve been very busy next door at making and exhibiting paintings, and setting up and taking down my pop-up (temporary) gallery, The Little Firefly, and being a little bit on TV, but it’s time to put my author/illustrator hat back on because I have an exciting project on my drawing table: I’m about to delve into turning my first book, Gordon’s Biscuit, into an eBook! And if I can, I’d like to turn it into a print-on-demand book too so that if you want a real book with paper pages, you will be able to order it and pay for it and your very own copy will be made for you and sent to you!

Gordons Biscuit cover

It’s exciting because this is a new field for me to explore and learn about, because I can add new bits, and because it will make Gordon’s Biscuit available to people again. It has been out of print for a few years now so you have to find one in the library or second hand bookshop if you want to read it.
A few weeks ago I ran into a family who loved Gordon’s Biscuit when the kids were little, and they had just been sitting around the table a week or so earlier trying to remember the names of all of the characters - then we ran into each other at my Little Firefly Gallery just before Christmas. I can’t tell you how heartwarming it was to hear how much they loved the book and how it had been part of their childhood. Sigh.

GB Korean
(This is Gordon’s Biscuit in Korean)
It will be fun to meet up with Sam and Ella and that cuddly, shaggy Gordon again!

AND…the trailer for the movie, “Return to Nim’s Island” is just out - take a peek! It’s the sequel to “Nim’s Island” based on the book by Wendy Orr which I illustrated. When Nim’s Island was being filmed we went onto the movie set and I was hugged by Jodie Foster and kissed by Selkie the sea lion. Pretty exciting!
Selkie kissing Kerry small
So all in all, lots going on!