Ruthie May, author of Count My Christmas Kisses, answers Ten Terrifying Questions

The Booktopia Book Guru asks

Ruthie May

author of Count My Christmas Kisses, Stew a Cockatoo and Count My Kisses, Little One

Ten Terrifying Questions
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1. To begin with why don’t you tell us a little bit about yourself – where were you born? Raised? Schooled?

I was born and raised in Perth, Western Australia until my father dragged the family across the Nullarbor when I was 15 for bigger things out East. I finished high school and went to University in Sydney and haven’t really ever left.

2. What did you want to be when you were twelve, eighteen and thirty? And why?

At age 12 I dreamed of one day running my own newspaper and dating Spike from Press Gang – the thought of sitting around talking about what stories were important and which weren’t seemed wonderful to me, and Dexter Fletcher was just so witty and respectful of Julia Sawalha; at age 18 I wanted to be an academic historian – I was studying history and loved it, I still do; at age 30 I wanted to be a lady of leisure – it seemed so appealing.

3. What strongly held belief did you have at eighteen that you do not have now?

Author: Ruthie May

I believed that life would take a linear, logical course.

4. What were three works of art – book or painting or piece of music, etc – you can now say, had a great effect on you and influenced your own development as a writer?

Itsy-Bitsy Babies by Margaret Wild & Jan Ormerod; The Millennium Book of Myth and Story by Maurice Saxby & John Winch; & The Ghost’s Child by Sonya Hartnett.

5. Considering the innumerable artistic avenues open to you, why did you choose to write a picture book? 

There is so much delight to be had in a picture book – you only need to sit down and read to children to discover that. You can see the world open up to a child right before your very eyes. To be able to create those experiences is a total joy.

6. Please tell us about your latest picture book…

My latest picture book is a follow up book to a book I wrote a number of years ago called Count My Kisses, Little One. They appear to be counting books, but they are really about smooching and the affection small children have for new babies.

Grab a copy of Ruthie’s new book Count My Christmas Kisses here

 

7. What do you hope people take away with them after reading your work?

A warm fuzzy feeling.

8. Whom do you most admire in the realm of writing and why?

In the realm of children’s picture writing, I’ve always admired Margaret Wild who knows how to write for babies and toddlers like no other, and Jan Ormerod, who was also a great expert in writing and illustrating for small children.  If you read their books, it doesn’t take long to see what great observers they are of life in the small lane.

9. Many artists set themselves very ambitious goals. What are yours?

To continue writing picture books that keep the interest and imagination of toddlers alive; books that when the reading comes to a close the toddler says, ‘again’, and mum or dad or the loved one has to read it over and over. Sorry grown-ups. 

10. What advice do you give aspiring writers?

Don’t be one of those people who read children’s books and say ‘I could have written that’ – you didn’t – but you could – if you sit down and give it a try.

Ruthie, thank you for playing.

Grab a copy of Count My Christmas Kisses


Count My Christmas Kisses

by Ruthie May, Tamsin Ainslie (Illustrator)

From the creators of the beautiful Count My Kisses, Little One comes another delightful book, perfect for the festive season.

One kiss for baby, under mistletoe. Two kisses for baby, catching falling snow.

2010’s Count My Kisses, Little One was an instant hit with Australian littlies and their parents. With Tamsin Ainslie’s adorable illustrations and Ruthie May’s beautiful rhyming text, the book gently introduced young children to the idea of numbers and counting.

The book soon left our shores, and went on to become an international bestseller, with more than 100,000 copies sold worldwide. Now, Ruthie and Tamsin are back with Count My Christmas Kisses – a gorgeous new picture book, perfect for the holiday season.

About the Author

Ruthie May was born in Perth, Western Australia. She is the published author of Count My Kisses, Little One and Stew a Cockatoo: My Aussie Cookbook illustrated by Leigh Hobbs. Ruthie immerses herself in stories for both children and grown-ups, but prefers stories where age doesn’t matter..

 Grab a copy of Count my Christmas Wishes

BOOKTOBERFEST GUEST BLOG: Once a Shepherd backstory… by Glenda Millard

In 2005 I was awarded a May Gibbs Fellowship and as a result was given a month’s use of a studio in Adelaide, South Australia. My main objective was to begin work on a new book. Along with that, I agreed to regularly spend time with the grade 5 girls at Seymour College in Adelaide.

Mary Clark was the teacher librarian at Seymour at the time and we communicated for several months before I arrived in Adelaide as to how to best use my time with the students.

What I hoped to do was show the girls in a very practical, hands-on sort of way, how to source a single idea and transform it into a story. It would be a challenge, not only for the students but for me, as I too promised to take part in the exercise.

glenda41I suggested an off campus excursion to a number of different locations around the city of Adelaide, including the Adelaide fresh foods market, a Japanese garden and a St Vincent de Paul charity shop. Mary readily agreed and arranged buses, permission notes from parents and numerous other things required to make the outing possible.

The students were given questionnaires for each location to prompt them to use their observation skills and to encourage them to ask questions. Our aim was to find something that would stimulate our curiosity and then, using a questioning technique I provided and our imaginations, to discover more about it. I hoped that ultimately the chosen article, place or person and the questions we would ask ourselves about them would lead to the framework of a story.

The object I chose was an old military coat at St Vincent de Paul’s. The girls and I, and Mary, all completed our stories over the four weeks I was at Seymour. My story, or course, turned out to be Once a Shepherd.

In the first few drafts, my focus was on where the coat might have come from in a real sense. For example, wool production and the process it goes through to make a garment, from shearing, carding, dying, weaving and then sewing the woven cloth into a garment.once-a-shepherd

However it soon developed into a much more personal story: the love story of Tom and Cherry, the coming of war, the hand-stitched coat, Cherry’s labour of love for her husband, the birth of their baby, the effect of Tom’s bravery and humanity on an unknown, enemy soldier.

I have a great fondness for handmade things. My mother used to make soft toys for my sister and me when we were little girls. I made them for my daughter when she was small and will make others for my first grandchild when it arrives next March. My daughter makes me an apron every year for my birthday. To create a gift for someone, to spend time on it, is significant to both the giver and the receiver, whether it be a garment, a toy, a cake or something else. With each stitch, Cherry put love into the coat she made for Tom and did so again with the toy lamb she made for their child.

I have used a circular technique in the book – beginning and ending with a lamb. There are many symbolic references to the lamb in history and in mythology including purity, innocence and new life. This could also be said of the child in Once a Shepherd.


Glenda Millard’s Once a Shepherd is a featured title in Walker Books’ Booktoberfest Showcase, click here for more details

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once-a-shepherdOnce a Shepherd

by Glenda Millard

A story of love and war.

Once there was a shepherd, a very special coat – and hope.

A moving tale that will help grandparents connect personal experiences of war with young children.

About the Author

Glenda Millard was born in the Goldfields region of Central Victoria and has lived in the area all her life. It wasn’t until Glenda’s four children became teenagers that she began to write in her spare time. She has been writing full-time since 1999 and has published several books for children. Her first book with Walker Books Australia, Isabella’s Garden, has been awarded Honour Book in the Picture Book of the Year category in the 2010 Children’s Book Council of Australia Awards, and has won a Speech Pathology Australia Book of the Year Award, Best Book for Language Development, Lower Primary Category (5-8 years), 2010; and short-listed the Queensland Premier’s Literary Awards Children’s Book – Mary Ryan Award, 2010.

Glenda Millard’s Once a Shepherd is a featured title in Walker Books’ Booktoberfest Showcase, click here for more details

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Vote For Australia’s Favourite Novelist 2014 – Final Round of Voting

There is only one more week of voting left to decide who is Australia’s Favourite Novelist!

This is the longlist as voted by you, congratulations to all the novelists for making it onto this extraordinary list.

But the job isn’t finished. We need your final vote to decide the order of the top 50.

Vote for all your favourite authors, and spread the word, tell your friends and family to get voting! The poll closes 5pm Saturday.

Next week we’ll announce the Top 50 as voted by you and decide who, in 2014, is Australia’s Favourite Novelist!

 

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Vote For Australia’s Favourite Novelist 2014 – Heat 4

January is the month of Australian Stories at Booktopia, and to celebrate we need your help to discover Australia’s Favourite Novelist for 2014!

Heat 4 is full of some huge names and exciting newcomers. Who will you vote for?

Thanks to everyone who has voted so far, the response has been incredible! And thanks to all the wonderful authors and publishers for spreading the word!

Remember you can select as many authors as you like with your vote and give them the chance to become Australia’s Favourite Novelist!

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Vote For Australia’s Favourite Novelist 2014 – Heat 3

January is the month of Australian Stories at Booktopia, and to celebrate we need your help to discover Australia’s Favourite Novelist for 2014!

Today’s list is full of the most popular writers in Australia today, it’s a tough one!

Remember you can select as many authors as you like with your vote and give them the chance to become Australia’s Favourite Novelist!

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Vote For Australia’s Favourite Novelist 2014 – Heat 2

January is the month of Australian Stories at Booktopia, and to celebrate we need your help to discover Australia’s Favourite Novelist for 2014!

Yesterday had some big surprises as Australia searched their hearts and bookcases, will today be the same?

A reminder that this is only Heat 2, so you might see some of your favourites missing today. Don’t worry, over the week you’ll have a chance to vote for all of your favourites in their respective heats.

Today’s list includes Nobel, Pulitzer, Orange and Miles Franklin Prize-Winners!

Vote now to see them advance to the final round of voting next week and have the chance to become Australia’s Favourite Novelist!

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Vote For Australia’s Favourite Novelist 2014 – Heat 1

January is the month of Australian Stories at Booktopia, and to celebrate we need your help to discover Australia’s Favourite Novelist for 2014!

We’ve taken your nominations and today is the day to put your votes forward. You can vote for as many novelists as you like.

A reminder that this is only Heat 1, so you might see some of your favourites missing today. Don’t worry, over the next 5 days you’ll have a chance to vote for all of your favourites in their respective heats.

Today we have brilliant bestsellers, acclaimed award-winners and exciting newbies! Vote now to see them advance to the final round of voting next week and have the chance to become Australia’s Favourite Novelist!

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