A few weeks back I finished a May Gibbs Fellowship*, a creative time residency organized by the May Gibbs’ Literature Trust. It’s for children’s authors and illustrators, and during the Fellowship you get to spend ONE WHOLE MONTH away from home writing (or illustrating). One whole month without school lunches, sport’s training, dentists, vets, committee meetings, and the list goes on.
Of course I missed my family desperately, but I can’t tell you how wonderful it was to have 16 to 18 hours a day to dream, plot and write – and of course READ!
I managed to finish writing an entire first draft of a new YA novel while I was there, blogged regularly, came up with a new book idea, and a name for another book – and of course READ. I also did eleven workshops at the State Library of Queensland, working with school groups, showing kids from years 5 to 10 how to develop heroes and villains for their stories.
All in all an amazing experience, but there’s more. May Gibbs Fellows who stay in the apartment, leave at least one of their books behind in a special locked cupboard.
Opening the door was like going into a magical world, going back in time, back to when the authors and illustrators were in this very room creating many of the books that were now in the cupboard. It was inspirational to reflect on their experiences and enjoy reading some of the published works that had resulted from their Fellowships.
The varied collection included:
nudes & nikes by Dyan Blacklock
The Tuckshop Kid by Pat Flynn
By Jingo! by Janeen Brian and Dee Huxley
Hungry Ghosts by Sally Heinrich
A Matter of Cats by Elizabeth Hutchins
Something More by Mo Johnson
Boofheads by Mo Johnson
Outback Countout by Norah Kersh
Muck-Up Day by Ruth Starke
Nips X1 by Ruth Starke
The Garden of Empress Cassia by Gabrielle Wang
Little Paradise by Gabrielle Wang
Coincidentally, Little Paradise was the book that Gabrielle worked on two years ago for her May Gibbs Fellowship, and it was launched the day I started my Fellowship in Brisbane.
Exploring the world and works of these authors made me feel like a small child again, and I wondered if perhaps a book chest, secret book cupboard or even a book treasure hunt might be a way to inspire young readers around the home. It worked for me.
*Anyone interested in doing a May Gibbs Creative Time Residency Fellowship can find out more information here: http://maygibbs.org.au/creative-time-fellowships/creative-time-fellowships/