Hattie Helps Out
Years ago I wrote an unfinished draft of a story about a little girl who coaxes her mother to lie down with her at nap time in the afternoon. The little girl, Hattie, doesn’t go to sleep – but her mother does! I had abandoned this half story and not returned to it until I was chatting with my friend and colleague Davina Bell as we were getting coffee one day. At the time we were both working at Penguin Books in Melbourne. We had been collaborating every day for six years as publisher and editor, but our creative partnership was about to end because Davina was moving back to her home state of WA. We were both authors for children outside our work lives, and a joint writing project suddenly seemed the most obvious thing in the world. We had worked on so many picture books together – why not try something of our own? We had also been working with Freya Blackwood on a picture book that had some sad themes, and had promised to find her something more cheerful to work on. Could this be it?
I passed the beginning of the story over to Davina. She had a crack at the ending and passed it back to me. Back and forward it went, over the next few months.
We sent the story to Freya, and she agreed to illustrate it. Now we form a triangle across the country – Orange, NSW (where Freya lives), Melbourne, VIC and Yallingup, WA – but we stay in touch. And now Hattie is a real book! Davina and I are travelling to Orange in early April for the launch.