'The best books, reviewed with insight and charm, but without compromise.'
- author Jackie French

Saturday 2 December 2017

Guest Post: T M Clark on Slowly! Slowly!

One would think that as an Australian Best-selling author of fiction books, that I would have got used the concept of submitting my work to publishers, but admittedly, I still hate it. I avoid other people seeing my work for as long as possible.

There is a good reason for this. (Note I didn’t say logical!)

It’s no secret that I’m slightly dyslexic. Before Shaun began reading my work and actively being part of my process, I did submit, what I thought was the best copy of a manuscript, and they asked me if I had sent in a draft in error. 

The stigma, hurt, and awareness of my best not being good enough remains, and even now, I hesitate to send in my work. 

So, I guess, this story resonates a lot with me.
I now do things slower and have a few more safeguards in place. (Starting with hubby Shaun reading everything before it goes anywhere!)

Slowly! Slowly! started in my head as a story to set in an urban jungle, after a visit home in 2010 to my folks-in-law in South Africa. (Heavily influenced by the falcons in Home by Narelle Oliver). 

The monkey’s in urban South Africa have not been told that they now live in suburbia as the urban sprawl has spread around them, and while they still swing on vines (now telephone poles and electrical wires) and they forage in the jungle of peoples landscaped gardens. The same goes for many of the people living in the townships, that still try to subsistence farm on their tiny piece of urban dirt. No one told them that the ‘old ways’ are gone.

In 2013, I used an earlier version of this story in the CYA Conference Illustrating competition. Helene Magisson won the competition, judged by Sophia Whitfield: Editor for New Frontier Publishing. (Helene went on to begin her illustration career after winning and became a CYA Success story).

When I was writing Child of Africa, (2017 release) I suddenly realised that I had written about this picture book within my adult story, this was part of the backstory of my hero Bongani. I went back to Slowly! Slowly! Re-edited it and sent it out to a couple of publishers, and I sent Helene’s original pictures with it, asking if she could please do the illustrations. Rochelle Manners of Wombat Books picked it up, and Helene was signed too.

In 2017 November, Slowly! Slowly! was released and its adult companion book will be available in December 2017 (Mira, Harlequin, HarperCollins.)

It is 12 years between children’s book contracts for me. 2005 to 2017. It’s been an interesting few years, but one thing has remained all that time, a strong desire to have a picture book in print. With Slowly! Slowly! coming to fruition now, my 20 plus years of a dream has come true. My boys (at 21 and 19) are a little big now to read them my picture book at bed time (although they did indulge me my wish, I have to admit!) So now I look forward to hearing about other people reading it to their children, and seeing how much they enjoy it.

Read Shaye's review of Slowly! Slowly!, here.

Zimbabwean born T.M. Clark combines her passion for storytelling, different cultures and wildlife with her love for Africa and the wilder places of the world. My Brother-But-One was first published in 2013 by Mira, Harlequin, and was nominated for a Queensland Literary People’s Choice Award in 2014. Shooting Butterflies (2014), and Tears Of The Cheetah (2015) soon followed. 

The same year, T.M. Clark became a hybrid author with the independent publication of her first novella, An Avoidable Orphan, which is a short story based on early events within Child of Africa. Slowly! Slowly! is T.M. Clark’s first children’s picture book, and is a companion book to her Mira, Harlequin December 2017 release, Child Of Africa.
T.M.Clark also runs the CYA Conference in Brisbane, helping others on their journey
towards publication.