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

Monday 5 October 2020

Guest Post: Elizabeth Cummings on Springboarding Ideas

Writers are often asked where their ideas come from and more often than not the answer revolves around how their daily life gives them the creative spark to write. 

This is true but moreover I do believe as a writer myself that the ideas are already there in some form or other buried deep within one’s very core. 

The concept, the theme or the character rise up and take form thanks to some trigger but the actual essence or desire to write is part of who a writer is. 

You may think that this is quite far-fetched or amazing or just a bit pretentious but really the most incredible thing is the myriad forms that writers choose to express in written form. 

From writers creating in genres such as crime, romance and paranormal to those seeking to create their narratives for particular age groups (and, oh yes, I’m talking about the upper middle grade storytellers, the new adult and even those who want to writer for the toddler market) these creators are all determined that their writing has a place, an interest group, a market, a target age group.

This is what fascinates me and indeed as a writer I find myself at times shifting genre or target audience depending on what it is I’m writing about. Whilst I am published in picture books, I am busy away on my third or fourth edits of middle grade and YA manuscripts and I know that these works in progress are as much in need of expression as the next book in one of my picture books series. I love the exploration of the themes I am writing about and how these sit more comfortably for one audience or another, or in one form or other. It is not always clear at the start of the writing journey but as the words are penned and the ideas developed, where the story might sit begins to reveal itself.

For example, my independently published Verityville series came about more from conversations with friends about their jobs and how society values certain roles to greater or lesser degrees. This concept was far more academic than the resulting little picture books series with cute-sey characters and basic storylines depicting daily life for many a humble career. However, I would like to think that the sharing of these books between their intended emerging reader audience and their parents or teachers will generate reflection as much for the adults as for the kids who are excited about the trucks or hairstyles in the books. I love the idea that busy adults might just take a tiny thought away with them that other people’s roles matter and conveying this to their young charges.

Then again, my forthcoming picture book Rain Shaker, published by Big Sky Publishing, stems from conversations over the years between my own children and their grandparents back in Ireland and how the very different weather patterns were a source of amusement and engrossed absorption with fanciful threads of hypotheses about how wonderful it would be if the rain and sun could be shared fairly between the two opposite sides of the world! This concept grew and morphed into the picture book it has come to be with the narrative firmly centered on the child protagonist and their self-belief that they can change the world and make it a better place - now isn’t that a splendid idea from which I hope many more will spring from!

Elizabeth is a Sydney based author and poet. Her works often reflect the world from the perspective of those who are marginalised, misunderstood or simply unheard. Elizabeth’s picture book series, Elephant in the Room raises family and mental health topics. Elizabeth is an award winning poet and regularly presents on storytelling as well family and mental health issues both here in Australia and internationally.

Elizabeth believes that our young people can help us understand our world and so her stories all start by exploring the word from a child’s perspective; that is to say that by taking a child’s view on a certain topic there becomes a ‘way in’ to new perspectives and a fresh way of seeing the world and the role of others in it. Elizabeth’s books are there to help children and adults alike find a way into new modes of thinking and new perspectives.

Learn more about Elizabeth via her website: www.elizabethmarycummings.com
Instagram: @verityville
Twitter: @EMCummings1