Book People: Amelia McInerney
A tale so tall you will pinch yourself. Get set for one shell of a story, as this crabby crustacean grabs life by the claws!
I’ve always wanted to be minimalist. One of those people that shows restraint in all things, most especially in food, accessories and words. Not a single person who knows me would describe me as ‘minimalist’ – most especially not my publisher Kristina Schulz and editor Cathy Vallance who I suspect despaired at my verbose writing. Amelia McInerney on the other hand, is clearly acing life and writing as a minimalist – her latest book has just five words – FIVE. Can five words make a story that is engaging, funny and thought provoking? Absolutely! Especially when combined with some sophisticated visual literacy provided by illustrator Philip Bunting.
Both McInerney and Bunting have burst onto the Australian kidlit scene relatively recently and both are quickly gaining respect and gathering swags of excellent book reviews. ‘Bad Crab’ is an incredibly clever tale featuring a main character with a penchant for pinching. Perfect for reading with little people who are learning about how best to make friends (pinching not recommended), develop empathy and kindness and love a good belly laugh. The text may be minimal but the messages, humour and story telling possibilities are endless! As always with a picture book, start ‘Bad Crab’ by telling your child or class that you will be reading the words, and they need to read the pictures. I talk about visual literary at length in my own book (Visual Literacy chapter) and how important it is that parents and educators encourage young readers to hone their ability to read, interpret and create images.
It is my absolute pleasure to welcome Amelia McInerney to Children’s Books Daily as part of our ‘Book People’ series which features over 100 authors and illustrators. Book People posts are used in schools as part of author study work, by parents and caregivers as a ‘peek behind the scenes’ of a book and by other creatives, both aspiring authors and illustrators and seasoned professionals. Thank you Amelia!
Click on title or cover links to read more about books by Amelia McInerney or to purchase.
TEN THINGS YOU NEED TO KNOW ABOUT AMELIA MCINERNEY
- Tell us about your latest book.
Sure! It’s called ‘Bad Crab’. Get set for one shell of a story as this crabby crustacean grabs life by the claws! ‘Bad Crab’ is a near-wordless picture book – it has only five words. It’s published by Omnibus Books (Scholastic) and illustrated by Philip Bunting. A tale so tall you will pinch yourself! It’s a fun, action-packed story that appeals to all ages, as it reads like a comic book. Humour and high drama afford the subtle exploration of the book’s themes: impulse control, consequences, empathy and making friends. In the story, the flawed main character, Bad Crab learns to keep his claws to himself and make friends, but the ending reminds us that these skills don’t develop overnight…
- How did you get started as a writer?
I had a ‘lightbulb moment’ when I was reading a picture book to my new baby and preschooler – I wanted to write picture books! I read text books and everything I could find on the internet about creative writing and writing for kids. I was hooked immediately. I joined writers’ groups and started attending industry events and now it’s all part of my life and I love it.
- What does a typical day look like for you?
With so many picture books coming out, I recently quit my day job and so now I’m writing full-time. I have three kids (10, 8 and 4 years old) so I’m pretty busy with them but I have a six-hour window of child-free writing time on the weekdays. I don’t have any set routines for my writing, I just go with the flow and write whichever work in progress that calls to me the loudest. I’ve always got several picture book manuscripts as well as a junior fiction series on the go.
- Can you describe your workspace for us?
Well, for the first couple of years I wrote in a beanbag! Because I like to write picture books in pencil, in an exercise book, I’m highly mobile. Now, I have a desk and a study but I often write elsewhere, because my desk is usually a huge mess which makes writing anywhere else rather appealing.
I live in the Blue Mountains and so I love to write outside, often on my veranda that overlooks a valley. But I shift places like a cat, often driven by the temperature and wherever the sun is, or is not!
- Any words of advice for young readers and writers?
Read and write whatever it is that you really enjoy. Don’t persist with reading a book if you’re not enjoying it – go to the library (often) and get another one! Write what feels totally ‘you’, and in your own style.
- Do you have a favourite book or character (your own or somebody else’s)?
My first book, ‘The Book Chook’, stars a panicky chicken called Ray, who freaks out when he realises that he’s not actually a real chook, but just a drawing of one in the book. He’s flawed too, but this just makes him even more loveable. So yeah, Ray, ‘the book chook’ would be my favourite!
- If you were not a creator of books for young people, what would you be?
A sonographer! I still do ultrasounds on the weekends, but I’d be doing them during the week too, if I wasn’t writing.
- What is your favourite food to eat and/or your favourite music to listen to whilst you are working on your books?
I make a couple of coffees a day when I’m writing… and my favourite lunch is any Asian dish, with lots of meat and veggies and rice or noodles. Because I usually write in rhyme (‘Bad Crab’ is an exception!) I can’t listen to music when I’m writing because I need to focus on the rhythm of the words. But I love music, and because I’m often driving my three kids around, I crank it in the car. And when I’m cooking. I enjoy most types of music, but especially funk, soul, jazz, blues and salsa.
- How much of yourself or people you know is in your books?
Good question! I think the answer is ‘more than I realise’. And perhaps also more than I should admit to!
- If you could have one wish for the world, what would it be?
That all the people living in it would get along nicely. With no pinching.