Claire Saxby - Interview (March 2018)
What five words best describe you?
Curious. Enthusiastic. Playful. Crafty. Lyrical.
How did you get started in this industry?
I did some writing classes as part of a Professional Writing and Editing course and when I found Writing for Children, I knew I'd found my home. I stopped studying and began writing. Later I went back and studied Poetry and Myths and Symbols, both as a way to further hone my language. My first acceptances included poetry with School Magazine, education readers and online content, and a picture book. Unfortunately, the company folded before the picture book was finished, and it took another 6 years before my first picture book, Ebi's Boat, illustrated by Anne Spudvilas, published by Windy Hollow Books was released.
Is there any part of the creative process you don't like?
There is a period after I've submitted any project when I'm sure I'll never write anything worthwhile ever again. That I'll never have a workable idea. The self-doubt never goes away. But I guess it helps prevent complacency. But it's horrible.
What advice would you give to someone who is trying to catch the eye of a publisher?
Attend industry gatherings. Talk to everyone. Don't pitch, just talk, be yourself. Check bookshops to see which publishers are publishing what. Then write/illustrate as only you can. We are fortunate in Australia to have many opportunities where we can meet editors and publishers socially. It's a great way to see who they are, and perhaps understand better what they might like to see. Understand that publishers are really, really busy and mostly under-resourced. They want to find the gems, buried deep though they may be.
Are you a plotter or a panster? (Plotter =Plotting out your manuscript before you write it. / Panster = Putting pen to paper and plotting as you go along)
I'm definitely a pantser. I've tried to be a plotter, but it seems I need to write that dreadful first draft before I can start to interrogate my story and find its shape. I used to say I wished I was a plotter, until someone asked me why I thought that plotters had it any easier. Writing is just plain hard work and those early drafts are just slog for everyone, I suspect. I do need to have some idea where I'm headed before I begin, but that end is mired in mist, hidden behind trees and deep in shadows. Deep.
What excites you about the future of children's books?
I think it's the recognition of children's books as art, as poetry. I'm also excited that the perception of children's books is changing and that the creation of them is no longer seen as just a stepping stone en route to creating works for adults. After a blip when digital technologies were predicted to wipe them out, there seems to be growing recognition of the importance of reading and sharing hard copy books.
What’s the funniest thing a child has ever said to you during one of your presentations/talks?
A student recently told me that her favourite place was Paris. Fair enough, I thought. Then they continued, to tell me that they've never been but they'd heard Good Things.
What's next from Claire Saxby?
I have two picture books coming out in 2018.
Bird to Bird is the story of one bird, one seed, one tree, illustrated by the wonderful Wayne Harris and published by Black Dog Books.
Dingo is the story of a female dingo and her family and is part of Walker Books' Nature Story Book series. It is illustrated by new illustrator (but accomplished painter) Tannya Harricks.
I'm very excited and looking forward to sharing both these books with readers.