Tulip and Brutus - Q&A with Liz Ledden
Liz Ledden is a Sydney-based children's book author, who writes picture books, junior fiction and middle grade.
Her debut picture book TULIP AND BRUTUS with Ford Street Publishing is out now. It's about friendship, differences, teamwork … and bugs! She has another picture book due out in 2020 with Larrikin House.
Liz also co-hosts kids' book podcast One More Page with friends, authors and book lovers, Kate Simpson and Nat Amoore, where she interviews kids' book industry professionals, reviews the latest books and lapses into the occasional laughing fit.
What is TULIP AND BRUTUS about?
Tulip and Brutus is a picture book about a ladybug (Tulip) and a stinkbug (Brutus) who never play together. They live different lives in different parts of a yard. Tulip and is neat and calm, while Brutus is messy and wild. One day, disaster strikes and heavy rain merges their habitats. The bugs are forced together, but soon discover they have more in common than they realised!
Is there a particular theme in your story?
The main theme of Tulip and Brutus is embracing differences. It's also about friendship, teamwork and harmony. It's about embracing similar qualities in others, plus learning new things from each other.
Was there an inspiration for your story?
The story was inspired by several things – my love of unlikely friendship stories and my desire to write one (hence brainstorming different creatures and personality types), plus a curiosity about the mysterious world of bugs. It led me to imagining two very different bugs, who may not be so different after all.
What is the story behind the story?
I realised that sometimes, my kids would try something new, whether an activity or a type of food, that they insisted they didn't like. Then once they tried it, they often liked it. Frustrating and funny at the same time! This tied in with my story, where the bugs don't play together simply because they haven't been exposed to each other. Once they get together, they realise all these new things they never knew they liked. For example, Tulip the ladybug discovers the fun of splashing in mud.
What kind of research did you do to write this story?
To be honest, it was a fictional imagining of a bug world, but a bit more research came in at the editing stage, particularly when the illustrator and editor were working out the type of stinkbug to portray. Some of the more factual things like what they really eat came into play, while in earlier versions I had the bugs in a more whimsical, imaginary world where they ate marshmallows and did a few other things bugs don't really do!
Do you have any tips for people wanting to write for children?
For those just starting out, I'd recommend attending conferences like KidLitVic, CYA or CKT – events where you can learn from other writers, network and meet publishers for manuscript assessments. Definitely join a critique group, where you'll constantly learn from each other, and also seek out online groups, kids' book blogs and newsletters to discover opportunities. Enter writing competitions for feedback. And finally, find ways to write and write often – the more you write, the more you learn from your mistakes and can keep on improving.
You can find out more about Liz by visiting her website.
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Read more about Tulip and Brutus at Ford Street Publishing.
You can also tune in to her kids' book podcast with Kate Simpson and Nat Amoore, One More Page. Subscribe to it on your favourite podcast app or listen via: www.onemorepagepodcast.com
You can also follow the podcast's news and book recommendations on Instagram, Facebook and Twitter. All are @onemorepageau