#cloudconductor #blogtour #booksontour #day3
Speaking with Kellie Byrnes is like being on cloud nine! But you don’t have to imagine what’s on her mind because she lays it all out here, sharing her inspirations, her personal understanding of the importance of mental health, and what it’s like to become an author. Thanks for being so open with us, Kellie! Xx
Congratulations on the release of your gorgeous debut picture book, Cloud Conductor! Please share with us a bit about how this intriguing story developed and why it is important to you.
Cloud Conductor was one of the very first ideas I came up with, when I decided to start working on my own stories. I was musing about how tough it must be for children to cope with being sick, when they can’t play and run around and do the typical active things they do. That led me to consider how their imagination would be one of the best tools they could use to deal with the situation (and to deal with any other challenging times).
I thought about how looking at clouds is a peaceful and creative thing to do, and when the title ‘Cloud Conductor’ popped into my head, I knew straight away that would be a fun way forward with the story.
The ideas about the imagination which are explored in Cloud Conductor are important to me because I know, first-hand, how the power of the mind can be used as a mental-health tool. Children are more stressed and anxious than ever before, and I think it’s vital for adults to remind them that they have more power than they realise, inside themselves, to handle tough and overwhelming situations.
What were the most rewarding and challenging aspects of becoming a published author?
I had been dreaming of becoming an author ever since I was a little kid, so when I signed my first book contract, for Cloud Conductor, I was over the moon. I felt a real sense of accomplishment and pride, especially knowing how tough it is to get published.
I worked, for a time, in the publishing industry years ago, in both the publishing departments and as a sales rep, so I saw first-hand how the odds are rather stacked against authors. However, I think if you do the work and keep persevering, you can make it happen eventually.
How have you celebrated its release into the world?
I recently had my first launch at Books of Buderim, a book store on the Sunshine Coast, Queensland, which was wonderful. It was so lovely to have so many kidlit friends (authors and illustrators), and other kind supporters of mine, come along and help me celebrate on the day.
I have a few other events coming up too, which I’m looking forward to. I’ve also felt so supported by new friends who have been celebrating the release of Cloud Conductor with me online, via shout-outs, blogs, reviews and the like. The kidlit community really is the most amazing one!
If there’s one thing you want your readers to gain from Cloud Conductor, what would that be?
The main thing I want readers to take away from the book is a belief in the power of the imagination. I think society tends to focus so much on specific results, and what we can see in front of us, that we miss out on what we can do for ourselves internally, using the magic of the mind. I hope my book serves as a reminder, and a discussion prompt, about the benefits of creativity.
Do you have any effective teaching and learning activities to accompany the story that children and adults will enjoy working on together?
Absolutely. There are lots of great activity and discussion ideas in the Teacher’s Notes for Cloud Conductor. You can find them on my website here, or they’re also on the website of the publisher, Wombat Books.
Fun Question: What do you see in the clouds?
I tend to see animals mostly. I’m a massive animal lover, so I imagine that’s why!
It’s been a pleasure ‘conducting’ this interview with you, Kellie! 🙂
Thanks Romi. And I like what you did there! J
Look out for Kellie’s new book, Yes! No., to be published by Little Pink Dog Books in late 2019. Can’t wait! 🙂
More fun facts…
Birthday: Just after Christmas – my Mum always said she thinks her doctor was still drunk from Christmas celebrations when he helped deliver me. I figure any negative traits I have, I should just blame on the doctor then! J
Place of Birth: Tamworth, in regional NSW. Also where I grew up.
Favourite Author: Impossible to choose just one! A few of my faves, though, are Deborah Harkness, Peter H. Reynolds, Roald Dahl, Enid Blyton, Karen Chance, Traci Harding, Oliver Jeffers, and, of course, J.K. Rowling.
Favourite Hobby: Ummm… can I say reading?! Watching movies, musicals, theatre and the like are also up there. I’m all about stories! I love checking out art galleries and museums too. There’s a reason I’m in the creative industries, I guess!
Biggest Pet Peeve: Just general rudeness, I think.
I also get really annoyed by drawers or cupboards that aren’t shut properly – which is super strange considering that I generally have paperwork and books spread around everywhere. It’s like my neat gene only activates when it comes to half-open doors or drawers!
Pets: I have two gorgeous dogs, Maverick and Ralph. They’re both working dog breeds, and are my fur babies. They inspire many of my stories. I keep finding myself writing about dogs. Perhaps I need to get a cat, chicken, llama, lizard, or some other pet as well, then?!
What were you like as a child: A bookworm and a dreamer. And nothing much has changed!
Most unusual thing about you:
Well, I think my family and close friends would probably be the best ones to answer this question, and would no doubt have many suggestions to add, but…let’s see…
I guess one thing would be that I have the most atrocious memory (my 74-year-old mother often has to remind me of the names of people I went to school with, or places we went on family holidays, amongst many other things), yet I easily remember the names of movies and who starred in them. I can also typically tell who an actor is just by the back of their head or voice. Somehow my brain is wired to notice these things, instead of facts which would actually be more useful!
Cloudy with a Chance of WINNING Cloud Conductor!
WIN a hardback copy of Cloud Conductor by Kellie Byrnes and Ann-Marie Finn!
Answer, what do you see in the clouds?
Click the image for more details.
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