It was a beautiful sunny morning when a number of us met at Neuchâtel train station. We hopped on the train to go a little ways out of the city center. It certainly was lovely weather to take a walk through the vineyards where we got an amazing view of the sparkling lake and were absorbed in engaging conversations about life in Switzerland, work, travel, kids and of course, books. Then we headed down to the lake for a cold drink at a nice local café, where we heard about someone's latest picture book project and an impromptu crit happened. With some rumbles in the tummies, we looked for a picnic spot and settled down for lunch. After which, we looked over another wonderful picture book project. Properly inspired, we got to work on our individual work-in-progress.
i think it was a fantastic way to spend a few hours with fellow creatives. Thank you to everyone who came and made it an inspiriting time.
This is our third post in this series, featuring our published members.
Let's have a chat with Julie Abery whose debut board books, Little Panda and Little Tiger were published in March 2019.
Tell us about your new books.
Little Tiger and Little Panda are the first two board books in a series published by Amicus Ink. Written in rhyme, with active verbs, they follow the adventures of the young animals as they venture out alone for the first time. The fun texts are beautifully paired with warm and inviting illustrations by Suzie Mason.
What inspired you when working on these projects?
The inspiration for Little Tiger came first. I had researched tiger-ish words in the library with a thought that one day I would write a story. I forgot all about them until I decided to enter Vivian Kirkfield’s 50 Precious Words contest and stumbled across them in my notebook. And that is how Little Tiger was born.
Tell us about the creative process for these books.
As I mentioned, Little Tiger was written first, but Little Panda was written thanks to an editor’s feedback who thought that it might be possible to write other ‘little’ books using the same writing formula I had created with Little Tiger. To my delight, she was right, and I now have four ‘little’ stories, and a fifth waiting in the wings just in case!
The creative process was a pretty smooth one. Amicus wrote to my agent, Essie White, in spring 2017 to ask if the texts were available and contracts followed quickly. They sent us some links to potential illustrators and then confirmed that Suzie Mason was the chosen artist. I was thrilled as I loved Suzie’s charming style. I had no revisions at all for Little Tiger and one word to change in Little Panda. Amicus worked very collaboratively and shared preliminary sketches in December 2017, and by May 2018 I had seen the full colour artwork and was working on the next two books! Perfect!
Did you encounter anything unexpected while working on these projects?
I did! I realised when I was writing these ‘Little’ books that there wasn’t an inexhaustible list of rhyming active verbs, so I created an excel chart showing which pairings I had already used to make sure I didn’t repeat myself!
Now for something completely different! City or Countryside, Why?
COUNTRYSIDE! I am a country girl at heart…I have always lived in the countryside. I am a dog lover, a walker, and a runner! I love forest trails and nature!
Thank you Julie for sharing with us your creative journey as a published author. These books are adorable and we wish you all the best with the rest of the 'Little' books, as well as your other books in the future.
Bio - Julie Abery
Julie Abery is a children’s author and former Pre-K teacher. Originally from England, she has spent half of her life living in Europe, bringing up her three (now grown up) children and experiencing new languages and cultures. She now calls Switzerland home.
Julie’s debut board books Little Tiger and Little Panda were published in March 2019 with Amicus Ink, with a further two in the Amicus Little Animal Friends series publishing in Spring 2020; a nonfiction picture book biography entitled Yusra Swims from Creative Editions (Spring 2020); a true story João and Dindim the Penguin, Kids Can Press (Fall 2020) and nonfiction picture book Sakamoto and the Sugar-Ditch Kids from Kids Can Press (Spring 2021).
She is represented by Essie White of Storm Literary Agency.
Willkommen! Bienvenue! Benvenuto! Bainvegnì! Welcome!