Sunday, January 25, 2015

A new year, a new story.

So this blog has been very quiet of late. Life has taken over in scary, wonderful and unpredictable ways, as it is wont to do, but I feel like I am finally emerging out the other side again, a little battered and worn, but feeling excited about the future.

Two big boys have moved out and three little girls have moved in and we are all living in a great big old house on a hill with a view over the city and an attic and a secret staircase and our same lazy dog who is not quite sure what to make of the whole thing. When the sun goes down we can watch the bats soar across the darkening sky from our bedroom balcony. It is a house I have always dreamed of living in. A house of stories. And when the kids all go back to school next week I plan to start something new and magical, starring three little girls, a boy, a dog and a big old house on a hill.

But 2014 wasn't all about moving house and collecting children. I have been working, too. Promise. Here is the proof of it, above. A new Billie series. (What, Billie again?) No, this is for younger readers. Picture books. Illustrated by the wonderful Alisa Coburn in her inimitable warm and groovy style. Inspired by Where The Wild Things Are my favourite book of all time, Billie arrives at kinder each morning and immediately leaps into her imaginary world of the day: underwater wonderlands, sandy deserts, tangled jungles and has to confront whatever scary monster or catastrophe she finds there. Of course she does all this with aplomb, always getting back in time for fruit snack.

I loved writing this series. While a picture book text is limited by word count, the vocabulary can be as lush and evocative as poetry. The original Billie and Jack series - and even the Mysteries, to some extent - were very much written with the emerging reader in mind, so every word had to be the simplest, every sentence structure as clear and concise as possible. After four years of writing within these strict parameters, it felt like a real luxury to be able to use words of more than two syllables and sentences of more than five words again. The first two books will be released in March this year. Then another four books over the next twelve months.

Last year saw me become involved in another exciting venture, too. Which is kind of completely different to children's books, but not altogether as far removed as you might think. It is a performance space that packs away into a bike. A roving story-teller's tent, hand-sewn and lovingly constructed by my beau. It is a true work of art, born from a crazy idea and a sketch on the back of an envelope. You can find out more about it on Facebook under The Story Peddlers. A website is on its way.

Other than picture books and story tents, I have loved accompanying Kulja Coulston on 3RRR's The Grapevine. I had no idea how much I would love radio, especially being the one to ask the questions after years of being in the hot seat myself. We have another fabulous year of children's book people lined up (well, at least our first guest is confirmed) and I will strive to remember to post my monthly segments on Facebook for anyone who isn't able to tune in on a Monday morning. If there is someone fabulous (and local) in children's books or publishing you would like to hear from, let me know, and I'll see what I can wrangle.

Lastly, my favourite summer read would have to be We Are All Completely Beside Ourselves, by Karen Joy Fowler, though admittedly I am not alone in this nomination. Now I have just started The Woman Upstairs by Clare Messud, which came highly recommended by a friend, and so far, only a couple of chapters in, I feel like I am reading a description of MYSELF. Spooky. I would love to hear anyone's else's tips for books I can't go past. I plan to make up for having fallen off that bandwagon last year. Well, not to be too hard on myself, it was a BIG year and something had to give.

Happy happy 2015. May you never find weevils in your muesli.

17 comments:

  1. You, too, happy 2015! Sounds wonderful for you. Go, Sally, go, go! Best wishes, Sadami

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    1. Thanks Sadami. I hope its a great year for you, too.

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  2. Sally Rippin. Could you please write another Billie B Brown series? I love them. I've read all the Billie B Browns and now I am reading the mysteries, but I only have 3 left and I don't know what I will do when they are finished. When I first found Billie, I couldn't read very well, but now I can read 1 Billie book a day!!! I had the idea to
    write my own Billie B Brown book, but the problem is, then I will know what is going to happen, so it won't be the same! Please write more! From Maya (7 years old)

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    1. Hi Maya - great to hear from you. That's wonderful you have read so many of my books! I think by the time you have read all the Billies and all the Billie Mysteries, you will be pretty much ready to read ANYTHING! When I was your age, I loved Roald Dahl, Charlotte's Web, short stories by Joan Aiken and the Dolls House series by Rumer Godden. They might be still be a little challenging for you to read, but maybe Mum could help you out.
      Right now, I am busy writing some more books with different characters, so they won't be ready for a while, but you might like to read my Our Australian Girl books, or Angel Creek. Or - I think writing your own Billie tries is an excellent idea! good luck - and keep up with your good reading!
      Sally

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  4. My favourite types of books are billie b browns. I LOVE books so much that I am setting up a book shop outside my house! I just want to tell you one more thing - I am your biggest fan, love VALENTINA������

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    1. Thank you Valentina! That is such a lovely thing to hear. I hope your book shop went well.
      Sally xxx

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  5. Hello Sally Rippin, I absolutely love reading Billie B Brown books I have 14 Billie B Brown Books.Now I am reading some Billie B Brown mystery books I've read 2 mystery books already. Can you give me some tips to help me write my own Billie B Brown Books. From Gracie (I am 7 years old).

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    1. Hi Gracie - thank you for your lovely comment. I am giving a talk at the Melbourne Writers festival this year about writing Billie Mysteries. Maybe you could come along? http://mwf.com.au/session/sally-rippin-mysteries/ It should be lots of fun!
      Sally

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  6. Hello Sally, I was so excited to see your reply! I would love to hear you talk at the writers festival but I live in Sydney. Is there any chance that you will do one here in Sydney soon? I got another Billie B Brown book today The Night Fright. I read it in all in one go! From Gracie.

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    1. Oh sorry! Yes, I do go up to Sydney a couple of times a year at least. Maybe you can ask mum to keep an eye on my Facebook page as I post this kind of information pretty regularly there.
      And good work with your reading!
      Sally

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  7. could you write some more books, because I love your books. from Caoimhe Aged 6!

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    1. Thanks Caoimhe! I am very busy writing more books at the moment. I hope you will like them too. :-)

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  8. Hi Sally Rippon , I just wanted to thank you for your Hey Jack series. I have a very reluctant reader (he is a 10 year old boy with learning difficulties related to Epilepsy) and we have tried so many many books and none have gripped him. The Hey Jack series work so well as the vocabulary is simple, the stories short but the character is real and the situations are what a sensitive child in particular can identify with!

    Your books have really made a huge difference to my sons reading experience and I am so thankful for that!

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    1. Oops sorry for misspelling your name above 😳

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    2. Thanks Tracy-Lee. That's very lovely to hear. I always feel very touched to hear of children who have been inspired to read through my books. I couldn't feel a great honour than to be a children's author.

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