Karen Tyrrell chatted with Lucy McGinley about the Indie publishing process of Karen's latest book in the Songbird series, Rainforest Rescue.
Karen defines Indie Publishing as setting up your own imprint to the highest industry standards and subcontracting editors, illustrators, designers, formatters and printers to produce a quality book.
Write Links junior fiction group critiqued Karen’s Tyrrell superhero eco fantasy novel, Rainforest Rescue (Song Bird 3) chapter by chapter, month by month. Karen rewrote Rainforest Rescue based on their suggestions and positive feedback.
1. What was your editing process for Rainforest Rescue?
I sent out my completed manuscript to Beta Readers who gave me more suggestions on how to further improve my story. I re-drafted and rewrote my story to make it the very best it could be. My aboriginal cultural advisor, Uncle Barry Watson read my manuscript to check the indigenous content: Gondwana rainforests, mythical creatures and bush tucker. Next, I sent my manuscript to a professional editor (ex-Penguin) for an intensive structural edit. The editor asked me over 100 questions to draw out character development and the story line. I addressed these questions, inserting those new sections back into the manuscript. Finally, my editor line edited my manuscript so my book was ready for publishing.
2. After editing Rainforest Rescue what happened next?
I brainstormed cover ideas with my business partner and husband Steve Tyrrell at Digital Future Press. (my publishing imprint). Steve and I developed a precise brief for my cover illustrator Trevor Salter. As an indie publisher, I sub-contracted a book designer and formatter through Book Cover Café. I print my books POD via Lightning Source, the largest printer in the world.
3. How do you organize your book launch?
Six months before the release date, I booked a launch event at a local library. I planned my launch so that Uncle Barry Watson could present ‘Acknowledgement to Country’ and my illustrator could attend. Steve and I brainstormed ideas for a multi-media launch presentation.
4. You have about 8 characters that are in every story. How do you keep your characters consistent throughout the series? Do they have a character arc where they are changing much?
For my main character, Rosella Ava Bird (bullied), and her side-kicks Amy Hillcrest (disabled) and Ben (low self-esteem), I keep detailed character notes and interviews, keeping tabs on their appearance, description, back story, flaws and favourite expressions. As the series progresses, I give them increasing self-confidence and problem-solving abilities. I do the same for Rosie’s family and class teacher, Miss Darling AKA Wonder Girl but to a lesser degree.
5. Looking at your themes you are obviously conscious of environmental concerns. Is this because it is a hot topic or is this something you are passionate about?
I’m an ex-teacher. Environmental issues were part of my class teaching and my personal lifestyle. For over twenty years, I have hiked through Gondwana rainforests and national parks from Mt Tamborine to Springbrook and Lamington National Park behind the Gold Coast.
You can learn more about Karen at http://www.karentyrrell.com/
Karen Tyrrell writes empowering books to help kids live STRONG through humour and self-belief. She’s an experienced Brisbane teacher, workshop presenter and motivational speaker. Her acclaimed books include Song Bird series, STOP the Bully, Bailey Beats the Blah, Harry Helps Grandpa Remember, and Super Space Kids series. Karen won 3 awards, 4 literary grants, 2 sponsorships and a mentorship through the Society of Editors.
Isobelle Carmody, the acclaimed writer of science fiction, fantasy, children’s and young adult literature, presented an insightful workshop on authentic characters: voice, diversity and character arcs during Brisbane Writelinks Minifest on 11 August 2018.
She emphasised that the most important aspect of a novel, particularly in the young adult genre, is character. A story needs to encapsulate a central idea or question and the protagonist is used as the vessel to carry this idea or question. Isobelle revealed three important questions she often asks which helps to form her unique characters:
• Why do people do the things they do?
• Why do we act in such extreme ways?
• Where do these actions come from?
The seeds for the above are planted during adolescence which is why Isobelle is so drawn to characters in this age group. We, as human beings, react and make choices and take on persona’s to the outside world and so must our characters.
“The first journey for an author is the journey inwards.” For Isobelle Carmody, this is how original and authentic characters and storytelling are created. It is not a projection outwards but a journey about the self and of self-discovery.
Isobelle revealed that she draws inspiration for characters from certain aspects of people she knows. She mines these aspects which allows her to ground her characters in a sense of realism even when her story takes on fantastical elements.
Isobelle, during her presentation, also stressed that setting is a character. For her first published novel, Obernewtyn, she formed the post-apocalyptic setting as a mirror for her grief and dark feelings at the time. Sadly, she lost her father during this time and she imbued her story and her characters with this sense of grief, malaise and darkness.
In the second half of the presentation, Isobelle passed around a series of photos. Each person took a photo and was asked do the following writing exercises, as a stream of consciousness:
• What is the person in the photo thinking?
• What do I believe in i.e. what are my values?
• What does the person in the photo believe?
• What would my “opposite” self believe?
• Place your “opposite” in a scenario where he/she is beside a pond. What does he/she hear, feel, smell, see etc. It rains. What does the opposite do? The “opposite” meets the person in the photo. What is the “opposite’s” reaction?
By practically exploring different characters through a journey “inwards”, we learned how to construct aspects of authentic characters and create authentic voice. Isobelle asked everyone in the workshop to read out their stream of consciousness and we were able to hear how many different aspects of character and voice were created from the same set of exercises.
In summary, Isobelle Carmody believes that the creation of authentic characters is achieved via the journey inwards, by asking a key question or exploring an idea and by experimentation.
“Creating character is alchemy.”
here to edit.
Shaun has always loved stories, whether on the page or up there on the screen. A genre fiction nut - he loves sci-fi and horror but his first and abiding love is fantasy, particularly urban fantasy.
Shaun loves to write stories aimed at Young Adult readers whilst also being drawn to write for a New Adult audience - characters over 18 but under 25. His publishing goal is to give voice to diverse characters and to create authentic stories he's yearned to read his whole life.
Shaun is currently studying for his Masters in Creative Writing at UQ.
Shaun recently was shortlisted for the 2018 CYA Competition - Young Adult Section for his novelette: Hamelin.