More awards

Brilliant brilliant news…

Childrens Book Council of Australia shortlist

The Last Viking has been listed in the Children’s Book Council of Australia Awards 2012!

  • Notable Book, Picture Book of the Year category, CBCA Awards 2012
  • Shortlist, Early Childhood category, CBCA Awards 2012

The Last Viking has also been shortlisted in the 2011 Aurealis Awards for Australian fantasy, science fiction and horror creators.

Award nominations

Hi everyone,

Norm and I have some excellent news to share for 2012. The Last Viking has been shortlisted for three awards!

  • 2012 Western Australian Young Readers’ Book Awards
  • 2012 Adelaide Festival Awards for Literature
  • 2012 Society of Children’s Book Writers and Illustrators’ Crystal Kite Awards

It’s a great honour to have The Last Viking listed alongside books by Australian and international greats, like Shaun Tan, Bruce Whatley, Alison Lester and Chris van Allsburg.

Last Viking outpost in Fremantle

The Last Viking has set up camp at the Fremantle Children’s Literature Centre for Term 4 2011 and Term 1 2012.

If you’re a teacher, bring your class to see copies of preparatory sketches, character designs, clay models, final pencil work and colour prints. Call the Centre on 9430 6869 to see if you can book a time.

If you’re a member of the public and would like to see the artwork, then the Term 1 2012 Open Day is your best bet. A date has not yet been confirmed, but when we know, we’ll post it on the blog.

The Lit Centre ladies have done an amazing job putting the exhibition together- Norm and I were ecstatic to see it, me especially. It was surreal to see my work on the walls of the Centre, where previously I’ve been able to see the work of my picture book heroes.

The Lit Centre is selling copies of The Last Viking and many other amazing books in their well-stocked bookshop. They’re also selling limited edition signed prints of Last Viking artwork, and prints from other great Aussie artists (including my favourite, Shaun Tan).

James and Norm at FCLC open day term 4 2011
James and Norm at FCLC Open Day, Term 4 2011

FCLC open day term 4 2011

FCLC open day term 4 2011

FCLC open day term 4 2011 pic5

FCLC open day term 4 2011 pic4

Big Sky Readers and Writers Festival

One of the best things about making a book is getting to travel for writers’ festivals- it’s a brilliant perk. You get to visit places you’ve never been before, chat with other authors and illustrators, and meet your readers.

Speaking of which, Norman and I will be visiting Geraldton later week for the Big Sky Festival!

logo-big-sky

The festival is organised by the hard-working staff at Geraldton Regional Library, and runs from Friday Sept 9 – Sunday Sept 11.

Norm and I are running a few sessions together over the weekend:

  • Friday, 9.30 – 10.30am, Geraldton Library (youth session, talking about The Last Viking)
  • Friday, 1.30 – 2.30pm, Our Lady of Mt Carmel in Mullewa (youth session , talking about The Last Viking)
  • Saturday, 10.15 – 11.15am, Geraldton Universities Centre (talking about the collaborative process behind picture books)

Then on Sunday Norm and I will run two separate sessions at the same time.

  • Norms session is called “Appealing to a Young Audience“…
  • and I’m running a workshop called “Comic Books: making words and pictures work“.
  • They’re both from 11am – 12noon at Geraldton Universities Centre.

You can find the full program here.

The goodbye scene

There’s a scene in Last Viking where Josh arrives at Nan and Pop’s house, says goodbye to his mum and dad, and watches them drive off. Sounds simple enough. It took Norm and I a few goes to get it right.

The text and pictures would have to achieve a number of things- introduce Nan and Pop, introduce the setting, and show Josh’s close relationship with his Mum and Dad. The text and pictures couldn’t show Josh’s parents leaving in a way that implied they were dumping him so they could go away for the weekend together… it had to be sensitive.

The first and second goes didn’t achieve these things :p

earlier-goodbye-scene
First go
early-goodbye-scene
second go

Continue reading “The goodbye scene”

James the Hirsute, Viking explorer

It’s been a hectic July promoting The Last Viking.

On July 16 and 17 I was in Balingup for the Children’s Literature Festival, with talented WA creators Meg McKinlay, Deb Fitzpatrick, David Caddy and Elaine Forrestal

…the next weekend saw Norman and I visiting Albany’s Singing Tree bookshop to teach children how to roar like Thor…

…and the weekend after that I was in sunny Kununurra for the Kimberley Writers’ Festival, with fellow Fremantle Press authors Alan Carter and AJ Betts.

Thanks to all those teams that put the events together- Helen and the ladies in Balingup (who aren’t booksellers or librarians, just committed and passionate members of the community- amazing people)… Dianne Wolfer, Andreas and co in Albany (thanks for your generosity and hospitality, and the mulled wine)… and the marvelous Jo and her team of maniacally energetic librarians and volunteers up north (who work 11 months of the year to put the Kimberley Writers’ Festival together- on top of their normal duties. Amazing amazing amazing).

Here’s a few pics from the travels…

Balingup-town-hall
The Balingup town hall, main site of the children's literature festival- 8.30am, before the mist has risen

Continue reading “James the Hirsute, Viking explorer”

The Launch

book launch
(L-R) Norman, James, Kris Williams, our editor Cate Sutherland, and Director of the Children's Literature Centre Lesley Reece

It was a dark and stormy night…

Actually, it was. Norm and I had been watching the weather forecast all week, wondering what the heavens would bring on the Friday night of our launch. By Tyr’s Day, we could see that rain was likely. By Wodin’s Day, rain was certain. Come Freyja’s Day, when the wind didn’t let up all day, we knew a storm was brewing. Thor was angry. The joke going around was that his invite had been lost on it’s way to Asgard. But maybe that was true, and he thought we were snubbing him… and when you snub a Norse god, you get a once-in-10-years weather event. Thirty millimetres of rain fell in 30 minutes- the precise 30 minutes in which our guests were en route to the launch.

Continue reading “The Launch”

Review: Alphabet Soup magazine

Thanks to Rebecca Newman of Alphabet Soup magazine for the following review of The Last Viking.

If you don’t know anything about Vikings yet, you’ll know heaps about them by the time you finish The Last Viking. The illustrations are fun and cartoon-like and if you’re a super sleuth, you’ll notice that on some of the pages there are messages written in code—rune carvings. At the back of the book (on the endpapers) you’ll find the key to crack the code.

Keep an eye out for the ravens in the book, too. In Norse mythology they are Odin’s messengers, and in The Last Viking, they keep the Viking gods updated on Josh/Knut’s progress.

The Last Viking is an exciting adventure about courage, imagination and dealing with bullies.

Time to go a-viking!

You can read the whole thing here.

Still under the influence

Last week I spoke about some of the other illustrators who influenced my approach to The Last Viking. I forgot a couple of important ones… so I’ve put them in this post.

First up is Jan Ormerod. Moonlight was one of my favourite books as a child (still is). The sister book, Sunshine, is amazing too.

Moonlight, by Jan Ormerod
'Moonlight' by Jan Ormerod, republished by Frances Lincoln (2005)

For those of you who’ve never seen these books (shame on you), the amazing thing is the lack of words. Everything is told in panels, using only body language and facial expressions. The figure drawing is so accurate and subtle, it makes me feel very jealous to look at it now. Jan also breaks the panel borders regularly, which stops the panels feeling stale or constrictive.

I hadn’t noticed that these books had an influence until I re-read them randomly last week… I then realised that the panel sequences in The Last Viking probably owe a lot to Jan’s work seeping into my brain at a young age. I can’t find any pics of the interior spreads on the web…

Another huge influence on me is The Eleventh Hour by Graeme Base.

The Eleventh Hour by Graeme Base
'The Eleventh Hour' by Graeme Base, Penguin

I was obsessed with it around age 10 or 11. I loved all the puzzles hidden in the images and borders. Unfortunately, I wasn’t patient enough at the time to figure them out… my parents sent for the hint sheet to be mailed out to me (this was back in the day before they started including the hint sheet with the book), and once I got it, I couldn’t resist reading through and checking every little clue. No will power at that age, obviously.

When Norm and I thought about incorporating runes into The Last Viking somehow, it seemed natural to use them as borders, and to have them spell out secret messages.

If you’d like to have a go at decoding some rune messages, check out the new ‘Resources‘ page and download the rune handouts. There’s more messages in the book too… on the front and back covers, for example 🙂

Under the Influence

Norm has spoken previously about some of his influences while writing The Last Viking. This week I thought I’d talk about the influences I had while doing the drawings.

I’ve been a huge fan of the comic strip Calvin and Hobbes for many years. It was written and illustrated by the incredibly intelligent and talented Bill Watterson. The comic looked at the worries of childhood with humour and sensitivity. I was a teenager when I first start reading the comic, and I often didn’t understand the deeper philosophical side of each story, but the inventive and expressive artwork was more than enough to get me hooked. It’s easy to see the similarities between Calvin and Josh- both are young boys, both are loners, both have animal friends, and both get lost in their imaginations on a regular basis.

calvin-and-hobbes
Calvin and Hobbes, created by Bill Watterson

Another major influence for me has been the Asterix comics, written by Rene Goscinny and illustrated by Albert Uderzo. I loved the historical references, the attention to detail in the costumes and backgrounds, and the ridiculous puns. That’s all come through in The Last Viking (except for the puns… though I feel that Norman’s gentle, daggy sense of humour is very much in the same vein as Goscinny’s, and also mine). And of course, there is an animal companion- a little white dog, called Dogmatix… very much like Wolverine in The Last Viking.

asterix_and_the_vikings
Asterix, Obelix and Dogmatix, created by Rene Goscinny and Albert Uderzo

Continue reading “Under the Influence”