Monday, 23 January 2023
A: I’ve really enjoyed working with such a great team. Josie and I have been friends for a while, so I jumped at the chance to work with Josie and it was fantastic to meet Carla. Together with David as book designer, it’s truly the ‘dream team’. Even though the team was based on both sides of Australia, the Zoom chats were so much fun. My favourite part would be when I shared some facts for the book (such as the sperm whales sleeping vertically or the parrot fish sleeping in mucous cocoons) and the others would say ‘wow, that is so cool’. That was definitely a highlight.
A: I have collaborated with other
authors in the past, but this is the first time I've collaborated with a
scientist. We respected each other's suggestions and contributions and created
a wonderful result out of Art + Science.
A: What made this project was the
amazing enthusiastic collaboration that came from four people, myself,
Charlotte, Carla the illustrator and David the publisher. We communicated and
collaborated from the beginning to the end, we were involved in every aspect. Also,
I learnt a lot about what goes on under the sea!
A: We named her Lulu because the name means “precious”, “peaceful”, “protected”, and “calm”.
A: I love the feeling of sparking
a child's imagination, that my words and story bring them joy and how my gift
can inspire new worlds to open up — to take them away on a journey even if it's
only for a few minutes.
A: My most important contribution to the world are my resources on Autism. I have over 30 resources published internationally on the topic and they have assisted people all over the world including Autistic persons, their families, and educators.
We wanted to dive in deep with children’s picture book illustrator Carla Hoffenberg and learn more about her behind the scenes journey with Little Shark Lulu is Sleeping… here is what she shared.
Q: Since this was your debut children’s book how did you find this experience and were there any new or surprising challenges to overcome?
Q: Which page or spread in Little Shark Lulu is Sleeping are you most proud of and why?
Q: As animals have been an occurring theme in your body of work; for this project, what was your favourite animal to illustrate?
Q: Can you elaborate on your design process for this story and the tools that you used?
Q: How did the artistic decision to have the sea creatures dressed in colourful outfits develop and is there meaning behind it?
|Sketches of Shark Lulu|
Author and first place winner of the CIBA award for Journalistic Non-Fiction 2021 Dr. Kate Dolan, shows readers a unique and valuable insight in her book Beating Drug Addiction in Tehran: A Women's Clinic. We had the opportunity to interview her and find out more regarding the topics addressed in this award-winning publication.
Q: Since writing this book, how has it changed your life and the lives of Iranian women affected by the drug crisis?
Q: What is the best advice that you have heard to help those suffering from addiction?
Q: Can you elaborate on the larger issues involved with being a woman providing advice within a culture where males dominate?
Q: What lessons have you learned from the Iranian experience that could be applied to rehab programs in Australia?
Q: Do you believe drug use in Iran is stigmatised to a greater or lesser degree than it is here in Australia?
A: That’s a hard one. In Iran I tended to mix with people who were familiar with drugs and users and so saw little stigma. I don’t have a fair opinion of the general person in Iran.
Co-authors and father daughter duo Constantine Pakavakis and Simone Pakavakis created Earthrunner and the War of Water, a great entwining and thought-provoking story of family, war, peace and resolve. How did they do it you may ask? And what were the ups and downs of collaborative composition? Fear not, we asked for you!
Q: Was it a difficult process to distribute the writing of Earthrunner between each other?
It was quite an organic process that seemed to go through different phases as needed.
At the very start we discussed ideas of what could happen and gradually built a backbone to the story. It was pretty clear from the outset that we would build it around the idea of twins as we didn’t want the story to have a stereotypical appeal limiting it to only boys or girls. We wanted it to be realistic as possible and so having different writers for Leeta and Patish would help give their personalities more individuality.
Yet there were times when we called on each other
for joint drafting, which seemed to work well too. We would often finish each
other’s sentences or revise a sentence in a more engaging way. It was always
about the best writing, not who wrote it. So, really, there were three authors,
Simone, Con, and Simone & Con combined.
Splitting our novel between our twin characters, Leeta and Patish, made distribution a natural process, particularly after we’d created a structure of the story and key events for each chapter. We had different times and systems for our writing; Dad would often get up early in the morning before work and dedicate himself to a chapter, whereas I preferred to write sporadically during the day and sometimes into the night. At intervals, we’d come together to edit, rewrite and polish different sections.
One time, I remember writing the dialogue between Leeta and Anula as if they were 21st century teenagers; lots of ‘oh my gods’— probably the way I was talking as a fifteen-year-old myself. Dad not so gently highlighted my five pages of writing, days and days of work, and said, ‘um, this won’t work for ancient India, Simone’ and told me to start again. My teenage writing ego was crushed many times over, but for it, the better writer I became.
Q: Where is your favourite place to sit and write?
This story was written in so many places…at home on the couch if we were writing together, at the State Library Victoria, on holidays at Daylesford, Lorne or Byron Bay, at Byron Bay library, at Mr Tulk Café at SLV, at our friends’ property at Malmsbury, the Botanical Gardens, and even while holidaying in Paris and Crete. I guess the single most used place was when I wrote intensely for a year getting up at 5am every morning to write for an hour before work, sitting on the living room couch with a cup of black tea as dawn broke. In the silence, and before the day’s activities began, I would read back over the last few pages to help me re-enter the land of Gandhara, 330 BC, and allow the story to write itself.
Earthrunner was written with Dad in so many places and especially during so many summers on school holidays, but, most memorably, together on the couch at our home in Richmond with our toy spoodle, Alby. Alby often would often sleep in an awkward position alongside — or on top! — of us on the couch as we wrote, circling his body between our two laptops. His gentle snores would often ease any editing tension as we debated the placement of a full stop or the best direction for a paragraph. When writing alone, I adore the bustle of a café or the gentle hum of a library. There’s something soothing about the happy chatting of voices and the wafting smell of caffeine, and I love noting others as they carefully study their own projects; there’s something inspiring about surrounding yourself with other creatives.
Q: What is the major message and takeaway you wish to give to readers of the Earthrunner?
You are never alone or helpless. Whether it’s a personal matter like being teased or bullied, or a global issue like climate change or war, use whatever agency you have to solve the problem in a peaceful way. Ask questions, get help, collaborate, you do not have to face it alone. And trust the wisdom in your heart.
Young people have the agency to make positive, peaceful changes on a local or global scale in the world. Find your voice and, with others, discover how you’re going to use it.
Q: Would you or have you ever considered making Earthrunner a series?
Con & Simone
Yes, from early on, once we decided on the setting of ancient India, we wanted to highlight the concept of Ahimsa or non-violence that has such a strong influence in the culture and philosophies existing in the Northwest of India at the time of the arrival of Alexander the Great. Most historians and novelists have concentrated on the personality of Alexander and the strategies he employed in his conquests, but there are great, little known stories about the Indian population and their perspectives that we want to highlight. And these stories are important historical examples of how war was averted, stories of non-violence that need to be known. War is often claimed to be inevitable by the rulers or politicians who have their own motives for going to war at the expense of the common people who are the ones who will die or be maimed or lose loved ones. So, the story of how the people in the kingdom of Gandhara made a decision to avert a war with Alexander deserves to be examined more broadly than it is.
Q: After this experience can you imagine working as co-authors once more for future projects?
Absolutely. Of course, it will be different as our living conditions, availability of time, knowledge and skills are continually changing, but we know we respect each other’s ability to cooperate and trust in each other’s creativity, honesty, and reliability.
Definitely. Our lives have changed a lot since when we worked on Earthrunner – I was a primary and high school student, and now I’m a teacher myself! — but we have grown significantly as co-authors in writing our first novel together and doubtlessly would be able to use these newfound skills for a future project.
Q: If you were to meet Patish and Leeta in real life, what advice would you give them?
I met them while writing and said “I’m glad you didn’t listen to me and followed your own hearts. Oh, and your Way of Peace sounds pretty cool. I wish I had known that stuff when I was your age.”
I think I’d begin by congratulating Leeta and Patish. In Earthrunner, the courage they found to follow their inner voices, and stand up for those they cared about, was brilliant.
I’d encourage them to continue demonstrating this courage in all aspects of their lives. In addition, I’d remind them to let the other Shaktin kids know about the monkeys down at the mangoes. Saving cheeky monkeys instead of throwing stones at them might just have unexpected value…