Bad Crab - Q&A with Amelia McInerney
Amelia lives just outside Sydney in the lower Blue Mountains. She spends her days writing kids' books, staring out the window thinking up stories for kids' books, and occasionally just plain staring out the window. When she's not writing, thinking or staring, Amelia enjoys doing yoga and snorkeling, but not at the same time because that's really hard.
Amelia's first picture books, The Book Chook and Bad Crab (both Scholastic) were released this year. She has four more separate picture books coming out with Scholastic and Allen and Unwin and is represented by literary agent Jacinta di Mase. Amelia has four chooks, three kids, two hermit crabs and a husband.
What is Bad Crab about?
It's one shell of a story about a crabby crustacean who grabs life by the claws! A tale so tall you will pinch yourself! Bad Crab is a fun, almost wordless picture book about a pinchy crab who learns to keep his claws to himself... but not overnight!
Is there a particular theme in your story?
Bad Crab is a highly flawed main character, and this, together with the visual humour throughout the book, allows the subtle exploration of themes such as empathy, consequences, impulse control, friendship and what it means to be a good friend, forgiveness, revenge... the older the child, the more that can be explored! It can also just be enjoyed as a funny story about a bunch of cute sea creatures!
Was there an inspiration for your story?
Gulp! One of my children was quite impulsive when she was little, and so learning to 'keep our claws to ourselves' (not that she ever pinched anyone!) was a big focus in our lives for a while there. For some kids, developing these behavioural skills just takes longer. But with time and effort, they can get there! (They may never turn into goodie two shoes, but they can get there!) Now at eight, my daughter is a sweet, caring, sensitive person who would do anything for her friends.
What is the story behind the story?
I still find it hard to believe that I spent six months writing a book with five words in it! I submitted it as a detailed list of paginated illustration notes, along with a dodgy sketch of the setting (because the setting doesn't change throughout, and it was vital that my agent and publisher understood what I was describing-- especially the position of the precariously balanced, tension-adding boulder!) A little while after I signed the publishing contract, my publisher told me that Philip Bunting would be illustrating it and I was thrilled! Philip did such an amazing job with this book. Because there are almost no words, the whole story is pretty much told in emotions; in the expressions of the faces of the characters, which is quite amazing considering Philip's minimalist style. And because it is almost wordless, this 'outside the box' story was more collaborative than usual. It was a joy to work with my fantastic publisher, Clare Hallifax, and Philip and I'm really pleased with the book we created.
Do you have any tips for people wanting to write for children?
Being part of writing communities (like Creative Kids Tales!) is a great source of information and support, not to mention the friendships and fun.
Learn everything you can about creative writing and the industry, and then write what you really love to write, what really feels like 'you'.
Be open-minded when you receive feedback on your manuscripts - make yourself make the changes. If you do, you'll probably like it more when you're done.
Don't worry about what everyone else is writing. Do your own thing.
I realise the last two pieces of advice might seem contradictory, and that's where your intuition comes in.
What else have you got coming up?
I have a bunch of other picture books coming out soon with Scholastic, and one with Allen and Unwin. And a little funny illustrated story in a middle grade compilation out later this year, too!
Where can people find you online?
To find out more about Amelia, visit her website.
Or friend/follow her at Amelia McInerney Author (facebook) and @ameliamcinerneyauthor (instagram).