SCARY NIGHT BY LESLEY GIBBES
1) Please provide a short excerpt of what your children’s book is about.
Once upon a scary night three friends set out on a journey. Hare with a hat. Cat with a cake. Pig with a parcel. But where were they going in the dead of the night, tiptoe creeping in the pale moonlight? It was a mystery!
Scary Night is a rhythmical, rollicking read-aloud picture book with a lot of suspense and a dash of surprise. It’s about three friends who set out on a mysterious journey. They meet up with all kinds of scary creatures but they never ever give up. I won’t spoil the ending. You’ll have to read to book to find out just where Hare, Cat and Pig were going and what dangers they faced. You won’t believe surprise!
2) What inspired you to write this book?
As a child I loved exploring and going on journeys into the unknown. I love all things scary so of course my first picture book had to be a scary journey set in the dead of the night when anything can happen.
3) How did you come up with the title or series of your book?
I wanted the title of the book to help children predict what the story might be about. So a scary book set at night just had to be ‘Scary Night’. But the title doesn’t give everything away. I kept lots of things a mystery!
4) Why did you pick this genre?
My background in primary education ignited my interest in picture book writing. I was lucky enough to be taught at Sydney University by some very passionate lecturers in children’s literature such as Robyn Ewing, Len Unsworth and Geoff Williams. I’m pleased to say that their passion for children’s literature rubbed off on me and I spent the next 16 years immersed in the world of children’s literature at the forefront of teaching.
Writing children’s books was something I’d always wanted to do but I never seemed to find the time. It wasn’t until I took leave from sixteen years teaching in the NSW public school system to have my two children that I began to write. I attended many writing courses and wrote as often as I could sending manuscripts to publishing houses that accepted unsolicited texts. ‘Scary Night’ was pulled out of the slush pile in 2012 by Jane Covernton at Working Title Press. When she told me Stephen Michael King would be illustrating the book I danced the conga!
5) You have a further three books due out in 2015/16 with different illustrators. How do you work with their different styles to ensure the message of the book is appropriately captured and conveyed?
In August this year ‘Bring A Duck’ illustrated by Sue deGennaro will be released, followed by ‘Fluke’ illustrated by Michelle Dawson, ‘Little Bear’s First Sleep’ illustrated by Lisa Stewart, ‘Quick As A Wink Fairy Pink’ illustrated by Sara Acton, an information book ‘The Cicada Hunters’ and a chapter book series about a feisty dog named Fizz illustrated by Stephen Michael King.
My books are very varied in their writing style and publishers have chosen illustrators to reflect these differences to bring about a unique look for each book. Although I have opportunity to comment on illustrations it is primarily the responsibility of the publisher/editor to work with the illustrator. I have a great deal of respect for my illustrators and I just let them do their stuff!
6) As a child, what books and/or authors influenced you the most and why?
It took me a while to find that one book that turned me onto reading. It wasn’t until my fourth class teacher read ‘Bottersnikes and Gumbles’ by S. A. Wakefield that I caught the reading bug.
7) What is the most fulfilling thing about being an author?
The people that I’ve met along my writing journey, is by far the most fulfilling thing about writing. The generosity and encouragement from other authors, illustrators, editors, publishers and my agent has taken me by surprise in the nicest of ways.
8) What do you hope children will take away with them after reading your book?
I hope children are utterly entertained, rolling around the floor laughing and singing in delight wanting to read it all over again. I’d like them to take away a message about friendship and perseverance, about never giving up no matter how hard the journey.
9) Who is/are your favourite author/s as an adult and why?
Well, I definitely haven’t grown up because my favourite authors write children’s books. At the moment I’m really into Louis Sachar and have just finished ‘Dogs Don’t Tell Jokes’.
10) What are you working on now?
This year is about writing more picture books and some longer pieces too. But I won’t tell you what they’re about, it will spoil the surprise.