Sally Murphy is visiting today to talk about her new picture book, Snowy’s Christmas, illustrated by her brother-in-law, David Murphy.
1. Is there a difference between writing a fiction story and a Christmas fiction story? If so, can you elaborate?
I think whether it is set at Christmas or not, this is a story which addresses a familiar theme – the idea of a child (Snowy) coming to terms with being different – and discovering that it is that very difference that makes him special. But I suppose I did approach this story a little differently. Often I start with the conflict or character which will drive the story and go from there. In this case, I was influenced by the story of Rudolph the Red Nosed reindeer, so already knew that I wanted a character who was different and whose difference would be important to Christmas. From there I needed to work out both who that character was and how he or she would be different as well as the twists and turns his new story would take.
2. Snowy is illustrated by your brother-in-law, David. Did it change the experience at all working on a project with a family member? In what way?
Working with David certainly made the project a lot of fun and also drew the rest of the family in, which is lovely. It meant that instead of maybe never meeting the illustrator, or meeting him at a launch or something, I was well aware of both who he was, but also where he was at in the creative process. There were emails and phonecalls and even sneak peeks when we caught up in person. It’s been a blast.
3. How is promoting a Christmas story different to promoting any other fiction project?
I suppose the window of opportunity is smaller. Few people will buy a Christmas story at any time other than the months leading up to Christmas, so we really only have three months to promote in before it pretty much disappears from the shelves – but it will be back again next year, so we’ll get another three months then. And, if it’s a real success, it could be back for future Christmases too.
I am relying less on school visits and festival appearances (there are not so many opportunities at this time of the year) and more on promoting to adults who might buy Snowy for Christmas.
Because it is a Christmas story, it is likely to get a good display position on bookshops leading up to Christmas. Lots of shops have special displays of Christmas titles, so hopefully Snowy will find a place on those.
4. ‘Snowy’s Christmas’ is very Australian. Was that a conscious decision or did the story just unfold that way?
No – it was very deliberate. I wanted to write a story which didn’t have any snow or ice or sleigh rides, and which spoke to Aussie kids with Australian characters and settings. But I think it will also appeal to children from other countries – who will enjoy the difference of the story.
5. You’re on the opposite side of the country from Random House, who published ‘Snowy’s Christmas’ and also on the opposite side of the country from David. How do you manage communication on a project like this?
Lots of phonecalls and emails. Most of the editing was done using a combination of emails and phonecalls. Kimberley, the editor, would email me then ring to talk through suggested changes. David and I also talked by phone, and texts, but I also visited him in Canberra last year which happened to be at the time he was working on Snowy, so I got to see him at work.
6. Do you think Santa has any leftover ‘fine and silvery’ magic to share? I’ve always wanted to fly
Me too! Maybe we need to write him a letter? But seriously, I do love the magic of Christmas. It has always been my favourite time of year, and I am delighted that I have now got a Christmas book in print.
7. Where can readers find ‘Snowy’s Christmas’?
In all good bookstores. I always say that – because I figure if they don’t stock it, then they’re not a good bookstore. Look for it in the Christmas displays at your local bookshop – or you can order it online from online bookshops including booktopia.
Thanks for having me here, Claire.
I like visitors, Sally. Thanks for visiting.
Visit other stops on the tour:
Week One: 4 October Deescribe Writing Blog http://www.deescribewriting.wordpress.com/
Week Four: 25 October Here!
Week Five: 1 November Sally Murphy’s Writing for children Blog
Week Eight: 22 November Robyn Opie’s Writing Children’s Books Blog