When Maureen Sudlow asked me to review her children’s book, Fearless Fred and the Dragon, this is what I had to say:
“Children will be amused and engaged when they meet Fearless Fred who, wearing tinfoil armour, sets off to fight a snorting dragon. Told in rhyming couplets and featuring repetition that will delight younger readers, this gently humorous tale combines reality with Fearless Fred’s adventure in a way which may encourage readers to fearlessly expand and enjoy their own imaginations.”
After Fearless Fred was short-listed for the Scholastic Joy Cowley Award 2012, Maureen decided it was time for her to be as fearless as Fred and indie-publish her book. It’s now available in most good bookshops.
As I was curious to know what inspired the book and wanted to learn about the process of publishing it, she kindly agreed to answer my nosy questions.
Maureen, Fearless Fred is an unusual character, what with that tinfoil armour. How did you dream him into reality – did he appear in a dream?
Not a dream – probably from my childhood. I was a bit inclined to go off into worlds of my own, and still love the imaginative worlds of childhood.
When you entered the Joy Cowley Award, did you have to provide only the words or illustrations as well?
Only the words, but usually it’s a good idea to include notes for the illustrator to show how you envisage the illustrations. Text and pictures must interact well in a picture book.
What are some of the most thrilling or surprising things about publishing your book?
The biggest thrill was seeing it finally rolling off the press – I was there when it happened! I loved the support I got from other authors, and from the children’s bookshops.
What’s next? Are you planning more stories about Fearless Fred? He strikes me as the sort of character who could, say, sail away on the high seas as a swashbuckling pirate.
There are certainly more Fred stories in the pipeline (and one does involve pirates). I have two currently submitted to publishers. Fingers crossed.
How long did it take between deciding to publish and getting the completed book in your hand?
One very long year with lots of collaboration with the illustrator, Kat Quin Merewether. With her in Te Awamutu and myself in Dargaville, I did a fair bit of travelling.
You can read more about Maureen’s indie publishing experience at www.nzselfpublishing.com.
I know Maureen through the NZ Society of Authors and her blog www.kiwis-soar.com on which she shares exquisite short poems and photographs with people all over the world.
Maureen, I recently visited a poetry blog where someone had suggested a book of your poems would be very special – and I agree. Any plans?
Poetry is definitely one of my loves, and yes, I do have plans. I’ve already had single poems published both on-line and in print. I’d also like to combine poetry with some of my photography.
What’s your number one tip for writers in this changing world of publishing?
Actually, I’ve got three: Always take a professional approach, don’t take short-cuts, and research carefully before going ahead.