Thursday, 28 July 2011

That'll be the Debut - fourth of a series - Picture Book Writers

Featuring Juliet Clare Bell, Linda Ravin Lodding and Julie Fulton

On Notes from the Slushpile, we chronicle the slings and arrows of trying to make a dream come true so we get embarrassingly excited about debut authors. In our new series That’ll Be The Debut, we meet debut authors and get the lowdown on what life is like beyond the Slushpile. Here is the fourth of the series in which our debutantes talk about the joy of writing picture books.

Linda Ravin Lodding
Linda Ravin Lodding is originally from New York but now lives with her husband, Jan, and 13 year-old daughter, Maja, in a one windmill town in The Netherlands. Her first picture book, The Busy Life of Ernestine Buckmeister is out October this year.

Julie Fulton
The lovely Julie Fulton has made the most of her first picture book, Mrs MacCready Was Ever So Greedy and celebrated every launch with cake and more cake. Julie is very fond of canal holidays and her husband, Adam - ahhh!(pictured here with Julie at Birmingham Waterstone's)

Juliet Clare Bell
Juliet Clare Bell has burst onto the picture book scene with Don't Panic, Annika!. She lives with her husband Mark and three edible children in Birmingham.

Addy Farmer So, why write picture books and not novels?

julie fulton
Julie Fulton I tried a novel first, several years ago, which now resides in a drawer in the office. It's terrible. Then I joined a writing class to learn more about the craft and it's been a revelation. I've always loved poetry, tussling with the odd ode myself occasionally and, being a musician first and foremost, get easily caught up in rhythm and metre.

It's the rhythm and rhyme that appeal to me. My 'adult' poems are mostly blank verse, so picture books allow me to work with a more musical feel. .Julie Fulton

I remember how I adored books such as One Fish Two Fish and The Cat in the Hat amongst others. Getting children to love books when they're young is so important.

juliet clare bell author of don't panic annika
Juliet Clare Bell When my eldest daughter was born, I was so sleep-deprived and I kept having really weird thoughts about babies as different animals. I was probably half-hallucinating, but I wrote down this outline for a very simple picture book and I really got the bug. I was reading loads of picture books anyway and I rediscovered my passion for them.

I just love the way that the words and pictures combine to tell the story and that the child can be 'reading' a different story in the pictures from the one the adult is reading to them.

Like Julie, I remember the joy of being read to and sharing picture books. I love the fact that they're read aloud, and how shared the experience is. I want to keep hold of that forever, and if my children insist on growing up then I'm going to have to keep writing picture books to stay in touch with that. And Julie, I still read One Fish, Two Fish regularly (or have it read to me by my children). It's great.

Annika as a baby and how writing for children all began for Juliet Clare Bell

linda ravin lodding
Linda Ravin Lodding There are so many reasons! As Julie mentioned, the rhythm of picture books also appeals to me. And, when paired with captivating visuals, the end "product" can be magical. The picture book format also calls upon so many elements - a great story, engaging characters, precise word choice, and a good sense of the visual story (while leaving room for the illustrator to play upon a storyline which may or may not be present in the text). I just adore this visual element to picture books. In fact, the story usually plays out before me like a short film. I wish I could also illustrate but I can only draw the backside of an elephant!

Another reason I love to write picture books is that I get the chance to write for two audiences - the child and the adult reader. While I write to appeal, first and foremost, to children, I also want the adult reader to enjoy the book and find the story endearing, charming or funny. I remember all too well reading and re-reading picture books to my daughter, Maja, and if I didn't enjoy the book myself, I usually tried to hide the unwanted book higher than her eye level of the bookshelf!

One of Linda’s favorite picture books is Eloise by Kay Thompson. Linda and her mother used to visit Eloise’s portrait, painted by Hilary Knight, which hangs in the lobby at the Plaza Hotel in New York.

Addy Farmer The passion for the sound of the language and therefore being read out loud comes through loud and clear!

juliet clare bell author of don't panic annika
Juliet Clare Bell You're right about the rhythm. It's so important for the story - and so much fun to write. And I love the precise word choice. As someone who loves to talk... and talk, it's a real challenge - and such an exciting one - to tell a story in very few words. My favourite story I've written, which is out with publishers at the moment, is only 25 words long. I've always loved poetry - my next picture book coming out is in rhyme - and I feel that even non-rhyming picture books have a great deal in common with poetry, because of the precise word choice and rhythm.

Addy Farmer So this is a 'natural' form for you all. Is it also a manageable format?

juliet clare bell author of don't panic annika
Juliet Clare Bell Being at home with small children and having very little time, picture books were so manageable -I could keep an entire picture book text in my head and be 'writing' it as I hung nappies out on the line or in the middle of the night while I was feeding a baby.

Picture books were something I loved and read all the time and they fitted well with only being able to work in ten or fifteen-minute bursts. The children are a bit older now and I may write older stuff in the future but that would be in addition to picture books.

linda ravin lodding
Linda Ravin Lodding I agree, Clare, there is also something very manageable about writing picture books. But for me it's not so much about time-managament, as it is that this shorter story form enables me to juggle many picture books projects at one time.

I've tried to write MG and YA (and hope to succeed one day!) but I invariably lose steam, or get side tracked with a new story idea when I hit the 1/3 mark. Working with shorter texts allows me to indulge all my story ideas - and have the satisfaction of completing (some) of the texts.

julie fulton
Julie Fulton I do juggle several 'jobs' I suppose - music teacher, complementary therapist, landlord, housewife, and now I am brave enough to say writer - but I don't have children to take up all my time. I do find it hard to find large chunks of time to sit down and get to grips with longer pieces of work though.

I'm trying to re-edit a novel for the 8+ age range at the moment. In fact, I sat at my computer today as I had a 'spare' afternoon and managed to burn a loaf of bread I'd put in the oven and forgot I'd stuck a couple of curlers in my newly trimmed hair (I always hate it when it's just been cut) thus ending up looking like Crystal Tipps (there's a blast from the past)! I was also late for a meeting of our local am-dram group.

Clare's quite right - picture books can be visited in small doses without losing the thread too much. A little notebook carried around is a great friend too.

In the small town of Hamilton Shady there is rather a large problem. Mrs MacCready won’t stop eating and is soon towering above the town. Just what will happen? (Maverick Books)

Addy Farmer Can we talk a bit about the images. When you write your text how strong are the visuals in your head?

julie fulton
Julie Fulton To be honest, when I came up with Mrs MacCready I wasn't actually thinking of it as a picture book. It started life as a children's rhyming poem as far as I was concerned.

I suppose I must have had some idea of what she might look like and all the plates piled high with food, but it wasn't at the forefront of my mind. When I was persuaded to send it off to a publisher, I began to wonder what the drawings might be like. Like Linda, I'm no artist - if I drew an elephant's backside you wouldn't know what it was - so I seem to be limited in what my mind can dream up too.

Since the experience of seeing the story brought to life so vividly I can now begin to 'see' possible pictures that could accompany new texts I'm working on. It doesn't lead the story in my head, the sounds and rhythm still do that, but it does help me decide a bit more whether a particular 'event' may work on the page - and whether or not I'm being too wordy and more could be left to the picture.

I've written a sequel to Mrs MacCready, which was quite a different experience - I could see her (and her cat) in my mind and this actually helped me come up with some of the plot ideas.

juliet clare bell author of don't panic annika
Juliet Clare Bell I grew up with the worst visual imagination of anyone I know. I couldn't picture anyone by closing my eyes and I hadn't got a clue what a character looked like even by the end of a book that I loved. In fact I had no idea that anyone could actually picture anything in their heads until I was almost 18 and it was a huge revelation to me. I've worked on it but I still don't have an idea of what a character of mine looks like.

But I do think of my stories in terms of the layout for a book and I love leaving stuff out of the text so it can be conveyed in the pictures. I've written a few stories with very few words (well under one hundred) and for those you've got to have a pretty good idea of the layout for the book or the words alone just wouldn't carry the story.

My favourite picture books are often ones by author/illustrators who can be brilliant at letting the pictures tell the story (Not Now Bernard by David McKee and Rosie's Walk by Pat Hutchins, for example).

linda ravin lodding
Linda Ravin Lodding How interesting, Clare, that as a child you found it difficult to imagine visually in your mind's eye but that you ended up in a very visual profession! I love how we each found our way into picture books through different paths.

As for me, I'm a very visual thinker and some of my stories are inspired solely by a visual - either concrete or imagined. A book that I'm working on now was inspired in part by one of the skinny, tiny townhouses that are so typical here in Holland, as well as by a visual that I have in my mind's eye of the book being held vertically and one long, skinny house stretching from the bottom of the book to the top. I then built a fun story around this key image.

Addy Farmer Can you tell me anything about your relationship (if any) with your illustrator. It took Frances Lincoln some time to find my illustrator, Jim Kay. Then we all met and discussed the relationship between the words and his roughs and what was working and what might be added - it was brilliant! So, I'm interested in how much interaction you guys had.

julie fulton
Julie Fulton My publisher, Maverick sent out my text to a couple of illustrators in Poland (msm studio) and then they decided which suited my text best.

Once they'd chosen Jona Jung, she sent over pencil sketches for each page and I got to comment, along with the guys at Maverick, and suggest changes/additions - so much like you, Addy, except it wasn't face to face. After the changes had been made I could comment again on 'finished' copies, before they were set in stone. It was a brilliant experience and meant I felt I was involved in the whole look of the book.

Pictures are so important in picture books (obviously!) and without giving my input, I think I might have felt as though I'd 'provided' my text rather then helped create a whole book. Julie Fulton
Julie receiving her very first copy of ‘Mrs MacCready’ from Maverick Books MD Steve at a lunch in Covent garden.

juliet clare bell author of don't panic annika
Juliet Clare Bell Addy, I love the way Frances Lincoln did that with you and Jim Kay. I don't think it's that common.

I was shown the roughs for Don't Panic, Annika! and asked for my thoughts but they were already fairly nearly done. I did suggest specific changes where the illustrations didn't quite make sense of the text (how I envisaged it anyway) and they were all accepted.

But if I'd not liked the images (fortunately it wasn't the case!) I doubt I could have asked for a different looking character. Jen Morris, the illustrator, who lives in the US, and I had no contact whatsoever until a couple of days before my launch when the publisher emailed us both together to say there was going to be a dual language edition in Mandarin and English (yay!). So I emailed her and we're now in contact.

It's like Linda said, most people assume that you either illustrate it yourself or that you work closely together on it with an illustrator.

With The Kite Princess coming out next year, my editor at Barefoot sent me two spreads and asked for my thoughts on what could change and I think that they'll take that into account throughout the rest of the book.

 I agree with you, Julie, that it's amazing waiting to have my book turned into OUR book, and it's so bizarre to think how much the illustrator will determine the whole feel of the book. It's a very exciting - and odd - process.

Linda Ravin Lodding It's funny you should ask that question, Addy! I just received a wonderful e-mail from Ross Collins, the illustrator, of my second book - Hold That Thought, Milton! (due out in 2012 with Gullane Children's Books).

The book is 99% finished and this is the first contact we've had! So our "collaboration" has been only through our editor. Fortunately, it's been a wonderful collaboration and I've had the chance to view various stages of the illustrations as we progressed -- but we never had any contact.

Ross lives up in the Scottish Highlands, our editor is in London and I live in the Netherlands (although I'm originally from New York) so it would have been difficult for us to have actually met in person. Ross brought the story to life in ways I couldn't imagine and added so much humor to the book. We both hope we can work together again.

The Busy Life of Ernestine Buckmeister (Flashlight Press)

With my first book - The Busy Life of Ernestine Buckmeister (due out in October from Flashlight Press), again, it was my wonderful editor who had the vision to pair me with the book's illustrator, Suzanne Beaky. And Suzanne delivered such whimsical, whacky illustrations that I can't imagine Ernestine, or her adventures, illustrated any other way!

Again, even though we never met this was a true collaboration. In the book, we decided to have a wordless spread which would visually convey the book's humor. This called upon Suzanne to also be a story teller and she added so much beyond the few illustration notes we provided. In fact, every time I "read" Ernestine again, I find new details!

Addy Farmer It's strange isn't it how the 'right' illustrator chimes with the text and you go, oh, that's what little pootle- chops looks like or whoever. Then it's that good that the illustrator can add something to the text, like say a dog and it's perfectly okay.

julie fulton
Julie Fulton Jona did just that with Mrs MacCready. It didn't alter the text at all, but she's included a cat in quite a few of the pictures. It reacts to Mrs M well - handing her food at the beginning, but looking more and more concerned as she gets bigger and bigger. Best of all, it was the cat that set me thinking about a sequel - and it's become an equal character in the text!

juliet clare bell author of don't panic annika
Juliet Clare Bell Julie, Jen did the same, adding a dog, which has its own little stories in the pictures. I did write a sequel, where the dog was a really important character. In the end, we're trying for a very different 'sequel' (with different characters) but it was really interesting being given something from the illustrations which I then made my own. I really like that.

linda ravin lodding
Linda Ravin Lodding My illustrator for Ernestine also added a cat which I later found out was modeled on her own cat. I never had a cat in the story but she is a fun addition.

In my upcoming Hold That Thought, Milton! the illustrator Ross Collins has hidden Milton's frog, Burp, on various pages making the book as challenging as, Where's Waldo. The funny thing is that every time I re-read the text I'm looking for the darn frog and always forget where he's hiding on the page. Hmmm...wonder what that says about me?

juliet clare bell author of don't panic annika
Juliet Clare Bell I LOVE that about picture books.

I've had to learn to leave room in my writing for the illustrator to create so that the final book is a true collaboration -- between writer, illustrator AND editor. Linda Ravin Lodding

Addy Farmer So, how long did it take you to get to publication - could you talk a little about your journeys?

linda ravin lodding
Linda Ravin Lodding As a friend of mine so aptly said of my publishing success, "it's taken you 10 years to become an overnight success!" And, really it has! Like so many of us, I started seriously writing picture books about the same time that I started reading them to my daughter. Reading those books gave me such a great start on my journey as a writer and I thought, "hmmm... maybe I can do this!".

Linda, at an age when she was falling in love with books - ahhh!
Soon after I found an online writing group and many of us have been together since - we are physically far-flung and, after 10 years, have never met. Still, I still count these fellow "critters" among my best buddies and would certainly never in a million years have made it into publication if its wasn't for their feedback and support.

I quickly amassed a binder full of rejections. But I was never put off - the alternative of not writing at all was never an option for me. Linda Ravin Lodding

Several years ago I attended an SCBWI conference in Winchester and took advantage of one-on-one critiques. I had a wonderful critique by an editor who gave me a lot of excellent and encouraging feedback and soon after that The Busy Life of Ernestine Buckmeister was getting serious attention from a few large publishing houses.

In fact, the book stayed with one editor for over a year and subsequently with another editor for a similar length of time. While both of these "close calls" ended with rejections the chance to work on revisions with editors made this a much stronger book in the end.

juliet clare bell author of don't panic annika
Juliet Clare Bell My story's pretty similar to Linda's. It took me six years of writing picture books before I got a contract. My first story actually got good feedback from the first publisher I sent it to (Harper Collins) which kept me going and I joined SCBWI because I was looking for a critique group. There wasn't one locally, so whilst I got round to setting one up -which took a while- I used the SCBWI's manuscript exchange scheme (I'm not sure if they still do it. They probably do).

My second picture book (from about seven years ago) nearly got picked up by Dorling Kindersley and I met them in their plush offices in the Strand and got given a development fee to write some promotional material for it. In fact, I'm still working on that one.

A few years later, I realised I was getting pretty close. I was sending out lots of manuscripts and getting plenty of personal rejections as well as standard ones, so I decided that I'd look for an agent.

I think it's worth waiting until you've got at least three, four or five really good picture books to show and you're getting really good feedback from professionals. Juliet Clare Bell

I was lucky and found a great agent very quickly (Celia Catchpole). Addy got Tessa Strickland from Barefoot to do one of the SCBWI Professional North events in Lincoln and at the end, someone asked her what she was looking for at the moment. So I went home and did my homework and actually wrote the book. I was going to send it to her the day Celia contacted me.

Like you, Linda, I got two books picked up in close succession by different publishers.

julie fulton
Julie Fulton I don't think I was consciously writing picture books. After joining a local writing class, where our tutor is actually a poet, I 'revisited' my love of scribbling poems and the rhyming stories for children just sort of emerged!

It was only after months of badgering to send them somewhere that I got up the courage to submit what I thought were my three best - first of all to Little Tiger Press (after much research in the library and Children's Writers' Yearbook). From them I received the standard rejection, but was encouraged to try again by my class.

I subscribe to (or rather my mother gets me as an annual birthday present!) Writers' Forum Magazine and it was here that I spotted a short article about Maverick Books which said they were open to picture book submissions. I sent off my three and then forgot all about it and carried on with my usual work.

Addy Farmer How did it feel when someone said YES!

juliet clare bell author of don't panic annika
Juliet Clare Bell As to that moment when my first book was taken on, I'd had so many near misses by that time. And Tessa had let me know within three weeks that she was really interested in the manuscript but she asked for some major changes which I undertook before she ever said she'd take it on.

So it went back and forth between us a couple of times before she then had serious meetings with her colleagues. These meetings kept being delayed and then not definitive and I thought it was seeming less likely. But she said there would definitely be this final meeting out in the States and she'd have an answer for me.

Annika, Esther and Otto say 'yes' to Barefoot!

Then all that crazy snow came and I doubted she'd have made it over to the US. I saw an email from her in my inbox and thought it must be another postponed meeting one, or else a 'no' (surely a yes would be a phone call?).

I opened it, heart thumping, and it said "I'm delighted to say..."... My husband was putting the children to bed (I was meant to be too, but I'd sneaked off to check my emails just in case...) so I re-read it a few more times and then dared to go upstairs and tell him.

It was pretty surreal. In fact, I went out and bought some Barefoot champagne -because of the name -and it was on special offer at the Coop). We realised straight away why it was on special, but who cared? Someone had finally taken on one of my books.

Don't Panic Annika book launch video (Picadilly Press)

julie fulton
Julie Fulton When I got an e-mail from Steve (MD) saying he'd like to meet me, I almost dismissed it as spam! That was June 2010 - we met, got on well and he said he'd like to publish Mrs MacCready as long as they could find a suitable illustrator. They invited Jona Jung to submit and 'the rest is history' as they say. She started work in the September, we proof read and proof read again and the book came out in May this year. It's all been a bit of a roller coaster and, because it was all quite fast from my beginning to think of the stories as picture books, all rather surreal.

linda ravin lodding
Linda Lavin Rodding When Flashlight Press finally said "Yes!" I was ecstatic. Even though the book had been with the publisher for several months, and I had gone through several revisions with the editor, it was still unexpected. I had just sent an e-mail to the editor inquiring about the status of the book and letting her know that it had also just won an award. Then she e-mailed back asking me more about the award. I was going to reply to her when I got home from work but an hour later she wrote to say that she was making me an offer on the book! My colleagues weren’t aware that I wrote children’s books – they thought I only wrote about international development and disarmament issues. They were happy for me but, of course, didn’t understand how monumental this was to me.

When I got home that evening, there was a lot of jumping and squealing – all the sort of behavior that wouldn’t have gone over well at my UN office. I couldn't be happier with where my first book landed. And, soon after my first title was sold, my second and third picture books were sold in the UK to Gullane Children's Books. So, after ten years, I've had the excitement of bringing out two titles nearly simultaneously and working with two wonderful editors and publishers. A dream come true-- twofold!

julie fulton
Julie Fulton Unlike Clare and Linda, I don't have other books about to be published - that's probably the main difference being with such a small publishers. They are waiting to see how well Mrs MacCready sells before they are willing to sink a lot more money into a sequel. They are open to other ideas though - I need to get working on those! Being picked up so early on in my picture book career has meant I haven't got much of a back catalogue, or indeed any well edited and re-shaped texts.

I hope to spend the holidays on a narrow boat fiddling about with new and old ideas for picture books. Mmm - long evenings sitting on a deck in the mellowing sun writing ...

Julie ready to do research for any number of books

Actually I can't wait for our break. All the rushing around promoting at Waterstone's/libraries/schools at the moment is great fun, but can be frustrating too - I hardly have time to sit down and do any actual writing. I am so glad it was Maverick that took me on though. They have been brilliant, both in how much input I've been given and for all their support - they say they're trying to create a 'family of authors' and it really does feel like that. Steve has even been to one of my Waterstone's signings and walked around outside drumming up trade!

My husband did originally ask whether he could retire now. I broke it to him gently that unless your name was JK Rowling, normal work had to continue!  Julie Fulton

Addy Farmer Just give us a final sneak peek into what you're working on at the moment...

linda ravin lodding
Linda Ravin Lodding At the moment I'm working on more promotional activities than writing - *sigh*. With two books coming out in the next few months (one in the US and one in the UK) I'm working hard with my publishers to let the world know that The Busy Life of Ernestine Buckmeister and Hold That Thought, Milton! are on their way. So, that means keeping my website fresh and making contact with interested bloggers and reviewers, setting up book signings and events in schools, bookstores and libraries. But I’m aching to get back to writing and have a few stories brewing. Phew!

juliet clare bell author of don't panic annika
Juliet Clare Bell I sent something off to a publisher last week and I've got three new stories playing around in my head. One is about a boy who... I can't really say as it'll affect how I write it, but its working title is George and The Stone and a Very Small Shoe - and it'll probably be in rhyme. The second involves a strange adventure that has something to do with food (but nothing like Mrs MacCready, Julie). The idea for the final one was sparked by an incident that happened last week that I found pretty unpleasant but my three-year-old found extremely amusing.

julie fulton
Julie Fulton I'm intent on polishing off my 8 plus adventure novel, so no rhymes or tiny word count! Then maybe I'll send it off to a publisher or agent (I've booked the SCBWI agents party on 29th September!). Unfortunately Maverick only deal with books for 0-8 year olds. Having my picture book accepted by them has certainly given me more confidence in my work and more courage to submit. I do have picture book ideas germinating - the chickens on our allotment give me plenty of fodder. I have a concoction of boastful cockerel, hiccups and shocks mixing together right now. I'm also toying with The Nosiest Dog in the World. Like Linda I'm bogged down in promotional work for Mrs MacCready and all that entails. Don't get me wrong, I'm loving it. After all, reading to children and watching their faces as they listen to the story unfold is the best thing - but it does keep from writing as much as I'd like. Roll on those holidays.

There often seems to be an assumption that you start out with picture books and work your way up to writing a novel. (Picture Books) are so much to do with everything we've all talked about: the visual side, the rhythm, language and construction, but it's more than that - sharing picture books is so social, emotional, exciting and interactive, and it's a huge privilege to be part of that experience. Juliet Clare Bell

Addy Farmer Thankyou all so much for a sparkling chat. I know all our readers will want to want to fly to the shops and buy your books. Many thanks to our debs for sharing their experiences with us.
And one final reminder about who we're all writing for ...

It's mine! Thankyou, Esther (Clare's daughter) and her Funny Alieans

Read the rest of our That'll be the Debut series:

Tuesday, 26 July 2011

Margaret Carey

By Candy Gourlay

Margaret  Carey

My friend Margaret Carey died on Sunday and I am so sad.

I realize as I write "friend" that really, I occupied only a very tiny part of Margaret's life.

Clowning around on our way to the Bologna Children's Book Festival in 2008 with Margaret and illustrators Anne Marie Perks and Sarah McIntyre

Looking back now, I didn't know much about Margaret's personal life - apart from the usual discussions of school applications, school runs, the educational system, about bringing up uncooperative people in diapers ... and then of course I friended her guinea pigs on Facebook - but that's another story.

In a sense, I didn't know Margaret at all - her family and friends and people she grew up with will mourn her for stuff I wouldn't have a clue about.

I met Margaret when I began attending events organized by the British chapter of SCBWI (Society of Children's Book Writers and Illustrators) in 2001. I was an aspiring picture book writer (still am) and she was an aspiring illustrator who was thinking of swapping over to becoming an aspiring author.

We were a bunch of lunatics who had found each other via SCBWI.

So I only knew that tiny slice of her life that she reserved for her creative longings - indeed what I did know of Margaret was a thing I recognized in myself and in many of the people I met (and continue to meet) at SCBWI ... that deep well of creative yearning,  that desperation to set down on paper the colours and emotions and terrors that swirled around in one's imagination.

It's a funny thing being bound to other people because of one's unfulfilled desires. The endless conversations about rejection, wondering what that editor or that agent meant by something they said in a rejection letter, turning over points of craft, thinking of ways to write better, draw better, promote one's self better. And the darker questions: was this a hobby? Were we wasting our time? Did we really think we had talent?

When Margaret turned out to be one of the winners of the 2008 Undiscovered Voices - I am ashamed to say I was astounded. Astounded at how I had no idea what a talent she was. Yup, you can spend a lot of time chatting to someone about their writing without realizing that that person was something of a genius.

Here's a sample of Margaret's writing. These are the opening lines of Hey Jude, which won the 2008 Undiscovered Voices anthology competition:
Leaves sailed down off the horse-chestnut trees, more green than gold, supple and not yet crisp. Why they fell seemed puzzling. There was no wind, not even a light breeze, the day being calm and clear, with the sun bleaching the sky bright. Yet leaves fell in abundance and gathered in heaps at the roadside. Beneath them, unseen, lay the first frost of the season, a remnant of the cold night. A trickle of liquid spilled ino the gutter as the frost melted and mingled with blood that had been, just a few hours before, fresh and red and warm. From Hey Jude by Carrie David (Margaret Carey)

When I read her piece, Hey Jude (under the pseudonym Carrie David), I almost fell off my chair.

Hey, Margaret, I thought you said you were an illustrator! The piece had the lyricism and emotional power of Siobhan Dowd, another lost voice in young fiction.

At the reception for Undiscovered Voices winners, editors and agents were given this cheat sheet of winners.

It was an exciting time, that first Undiscovered Voices. We'd all been struggling so long together and suddenly here it was, The Future, lying at our feet. One by one, we won representation with agents, won deals. I was signed by Hilary Delamere of The Agency. Margaret was signed by Sarah Davies of the Greenhouse Literary Agency.

It was no longer a question of IF, but WHEN.

Undiscovered Voices 2008. Left to right, Sara Grant, Harriet Goodwin, Candy Gourlay, Steve Hartley, Margaret Carey,  Kate Scott, Kirsty McKay, Mariam Vossough, Sarwat Chadda, Bryony Pearce, Ian Harvey Brown (not in picture: Katie Dale)

Margaret was a quiet woman, soft-spoken, like really SOFT - you actually had to listen carefully when she spoke - she didn't seek the limelight - her way was to be one of the people laying out the bricks, slapping on the mortar, making sure our nascent organization was growing on strong foundations.

Margaret at SCBWI's first retreat attended by only ten people - to her right are Debi Gliori and Chitra Soundar

For many years, Margaret worked with Sara Grant (now awaiting the publication of her debut novel) to organize the Professional Series  - talks featuring authors, editors, members of the children's book industry - from when it was held in member's living rooms to its current well-attended venue at the Theodore Bullfrog.  The success of the Professional Series helped grow the organization and fund more events.

At the SCBWI stand at the Bologna Children's Book Fair in  2008: left to right, Margaret, Natascha Biebow, Anne Marie Perks, Sarah McIntyre, me, Catriona Hoy, Trish Phillips

Way before I joined SCBWI, Margaret was already helping illustrator Anne-Marie Perks organize Illustrator Day - at the time, SCBWI British Isles held a conference for illustrators in the Spring and Writer's Day, a conference for writers in the autumn.  When the two days were combined into one big conference, Margaret and I volunteered to become part of the conference committee.

My volunteering tends to be highly visible, show-offy website stuff - but Margaret's tends to involve a lot of invisibility - like remembering to get the plastic sleeves for the nametags, thinking through themes and timings and speakers, even thinking of just the right wording to put into a letter to persuade an author to do a keynote, remembering to collect forgotten boards from Winchester and many more things that nobody will ever know had to be done to make a great conference.

Getting a good programme together means each member of the committee champions their pet causes and themes - Margaret, who chaired the committee one year, had just the right touch to keep things cool and everyone moving forward.

Last year, SCBWI British Isles awarded Margaret with the first Outstanding Contribution Award. Thanks to Benjamin Scott for this presentation

When I heard that Margaret had died, my first bereft thought was of all those yet unfulfilled desires and selfishly, that I would never get to read her work in print.

But it's true about a long journey, about how the destination sometimes doesn't matter as much as the adventure of it and the companionship.

In her long journey, Margaret has certainly left an indelible imprint on SCBWI - such a quiet woman so she needs us to loudly declare her role in the phenomenal growth of our organization.

Here we are, Margaret, still striving, still trying and enjoying the fruits of your labour.

Much of getting published is about being discovered. Her death means Margaret continues to be undiscovered.

But I for one believe her words still have a future.

Those unpublished manuscripts lie in a drawer somewhere filled with delicious possibility.

After Gally's funeral, Jude and I lie side by side on the grass next to his grave. Most of the day's colour had died except the blue in the sky, which was deep and dotted with stars. Jude pointed out the constellations.
"The good thing about here is that you can see the stars, Sean. Back home, with all the lights from the city, you can't see them so well."
"So if the lights really truly go out, you can look up and see all this. See the sky all lit up. It's never really dark, Sean. Not if you can see the sky," he waved his arm upwards. "Gally's got them forever now." 
From Hey Jude by Carrie David (Margaret Carey)

With love to all who will miss Margaret - especially Mark, Fred and Clare.

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