Rory Hammersley-Mather - Interview (February 2019)
Why do you want to be a published author/illustrator?
There are a few answers to this question. The main reason is that I have stories that I think children and their parents or caregivers would enjoy. For a number of years I presented story time at my local library twice a week. I would see the joy that a good story could bring to people of all ages and felt that joy myself. I would like to replicate that through my own stories. I no longer work at that library, but the dream of being able to do a story time at a school, library or bookstore with my own stories fills me with excitement. The second reason I write is to get the ideas out of my head. I am constantly thinking of stories, they usually start with a line that I repeat over and over again in my head for weeks on end. I can't move past the line until I have written it down and seen where it takes me. Sometimes the lines become stories, other times I can see that they have no where to go, but either way it is a liberating experience.
How long have you been writing/drawing?
I wish that I could draw, but unfortunately even my stick figures aren't great. I have been writing poems for as long as I can remember. As a kid I would write a poem for my Mum every birthday and mothers day. I won my first writing competition in grade 6, but I didn't think of writing picture books until 2015. In that year I was heavily exposed to the format of picture books and fell in love with their humour and the joy they bring. I wrote my first story that year, and the following year that story won a competition that was judged by a publisher. I honestly thought at that moment that I had made it and would be a published author. Things didn't work out that way, but it was winning that competition that gave me the confidence to pursue writing more seriously. I realised that my stories appealed to people outside of my immediate social circle and that I have the personality to market myself and be a successful writer.
How will/did you celebrate your first publication?
My wife and I have a bottle of champagne in the fridge that we have been saving for that moment. It has been there for a few years now, so who knows whether it is still good, but we will drink it anyway. Other than that I think I would focus on creating a memorable book launch. I live in Toowoomba which is both a small and large town. Over one hundred thousand people live here, but it still has that small town feel. You can't talk to someone without realising you all know the same people in some way, and as I am heavily involved in the community I would say I am a well known local. I'd like to think this would translate into a pretty big book launch with lots of people in attendance and lots of books sold. Of course, one of the other things I would do would be let my friends in Creative Kids Tales know of my success because we are all in this experience together - though I think in my excitement my post would be riddled with typos.
How would you describe your writing/illustrating style?
This is a tough question because I don't want to toot my own horn, but I would describe my writing as funny. I LOVE humour - particularly wordplay and puns - and I think my love of humour shows in my writing. I have about thirty manuscripts in various stages of the editing process with around twelve that I would say are complete. Of that thirty only two are what I would describe as serious stories and only one has no humour at all. I think picture books can contain valuable lessons but I don't believe in forcing messages. If a lesson comes through that is excellent, but I think it is best if it is done in a funny way. At the end of the day my goals are to make people laugh and to promote a love of reading in children and I think this is done best when reading is a joyful experience with moments that make you laugh out loud and grin from ear to ear.
How has Creative Kids Tales assisted you on your journey to publication?
Creative Kids Tales has helped me in multiple ways. I have made some great friendships with like minded people who are always willing to have a chat or listen to an idea. We share our wins and our losses which makes us closer. I am a member of the critique group as well which has been marvelous. It's great getting other opinions on your writing or ideas from people who are in a similar situation to yourself. I also find it fascinating to see the ideas that other writers come up with, the diversity of the stories is amazing as is the different writing styles. Even if I become the next Aaron Blabey - fingers crossed - I hope I never lose the friendships I have made in this group.