I love children’s books across all genres and am so excited to now be creating them.
Story inspiration comes from all areas of my life and my illustrations have been described as both quirky and humorous.
When illustrating I use mixed media, handmade figurines and found objects to create the dioramas.
I have completed a Faber Academy course with Allen and Unwin and was awarded a Maurice Saxby Mentorship in 2016.
I have had a short story published in an anthology called Journey, with BusyBird Publishing.
I have two picture books due out in 2021 with EK Books and Little Pink Dog Books.
Katie was recently featured in issue 778 of the Pass it On Newsletter
Hello there, my name is Katie Flannigan (that’s me in the middle, in white, with glasses).
Hi Katie! Are you a children’s book writer, an illustrator or both?
I am an emerging author and submerging illustrator (I will get around to that one day)
Have you recently or are you expecting to release a new book that you would like to talk about today?
YES!!!! I am so excited to announce the birth of my first book-baby: A Boy, his Bear and a Bully.
I am the author and P. J. Reece is the funny, clever, brilliant illustrator.
The hardcover is published by E. K. Books. Thank you for giving a newbie a chance.
Released September, 2021, so the book is out now in all great bookshops or online and if you would like a personalised, signed copy, they are available from my website.
The book tells the story of Scott who takes Buttons the Bear to school with him every day to help him feel brave. He has to, because every day, Duncan is mean to him. Just this week, Duncan has called him names, ripped his painting, and stolen his snack from his lunchbox. Then Buttons goes missing.
With his one comfort gone, Scott has to look elsewhere to find his brave, and much to his surprise, he does. The text and concept are suitable for pre-school to year 6.
This is Dianne Bates’ review in Buzzwords:
For some kids, school is a place full of friends and fun. For others, though, it is a lonely place where bullies pick on them and it feels impossible to be brave. Meet Scott, Buttons and Duncan, otherwise known as A Boy, His Bear and a Bully.
A Boy, His Bear and a Bully addresses the global issue of bullying in a hopeful, gentle way that will resonate with children who have been on either side of a bullying incident. Seeing Scott learn to stand up for himself will help children who feel afraid of bullies face them in a constructive way.
Scott’s bravery also inspires his friend Rosie to report Duncan’s bad behaviour to a teacher, giving children a positive model of assertive behaviour.
Scott’s situation is extremely common across the world.
His story provides children with clear guidance on what to do if they are also being bullied, and on the role friends should play in such a scenario.
It is a sensitive, inspiring conversation starter for children, carers, professionals, and anyone who wishes they could be brave.
Can you share the book’s publication journey?
This story is based on true events that occurred at one of my children’s Early Learning Centre years ago.
I submitted a clunky draft to a MS competition run by Greenleaf Press.
Of course, the MS did not place but Aleesah Darlison contacted me to say that the story had merit.
So, I asked her to match me with one of her editor/mentors to help me polish up the draft.
This I did, with the amazing Coral Vass, who then suggested I send the MS to E.K. Books.
I received a call out of the blue one day from Anouska Jones, editor at E.K. Books who apologised for making me cry but assured me that she was definitely interested in publishing my story.
Anouska showed me some samples of P. J. Reece’s illustrations and 18 months later here it is fully formed.
I don’t have an agent but as bullying is endemic in all classrooms, in all schools, I plan to do school visits.
To that end, I asked Kellie Nissen from Just Write Words, to create lists of age appropriate activities relevant to the theme of bullying, that I can use in school settings from ELC-Year 6.
I will also contact existing anti-bullying organisations to see if the text is a good match for their demographic.
If this is an illustrated book – how much collaboration was there between the writer and the artist?
Very little actually.
My experience has exemplified the theory that 1+1=3 i.e. allowing the illustrator the freedom to interpret the text without much input from the author results in a superlative result. P.J. Reece has illustrated the story wonderfully well, adding colour, layers and humour. I am most grateful to him.
What sort of stories are you inspired to write for children?
The introvert, Virgo, occupational therapist in me seems to generate stories that have a sensible, psychological message/premise however occasionally I let loose and write something playfully nonsensical.
How many hours do you commit to your craft each day? Do you have a regular routine?
Here is a typical day…
Dispatch children with lunches to school.
Settle dogs around, under and on my desk.
Explain to dogs that I need them to sleep for at least 1.5 hours.
Work on MS’s for 1.5 hours until the dogs wake.
Check for snail mail.
Throw a ball or two.
Settle dogs with a chew treat.
Explain to dogs that I need them to sleep for at least 1.5 hours.
Work on MSs for 1.5 hours until the dogs wake.
Feed dogs and family.
If lucky, another session at my desk for admin so the power doesn’t get cut off.
Did you have a standout teacher who helped with your writing and what did they do to inspire you?
Miss Serity, a substitute English Lit teacher in VCE gave me an A+++ once…I was hooked.
At risk of being accused of going for gold in the Name-Dropping Olympics, Aleesah Darlison from Greenleaf Agency matched me with Coral Vass in a mentoring and editing capacity.
I have been working with Coral for a few years and she has taught me so much about story structure, language for different age groups and being ruthless about editing out anything that does not advance the story. Without Aleesah and Coral, I would not be where I am. I am grateful to them both.
Why did you decide to become a children’s author?
Writing books for children has always been something I was going to get around to one day, after I did all the other sensible things; career, family etc.
It has taken me a while to realise that I needed to be proactive about this, and time to write wasn’t going to miraculously present itself.
Would you like to share something unique about yourself?
I seek the cold much more than I seek the warm.
Storm and tempest (outside) are preferable and a log fire the ultimate.
Do you have any advice for people hoping to become a children’s author?
Join a writing group.
Sign up for writing courses.
And, find your inner Winston Churchill … Never give in. Never give in. Never, never, never, never.