Book People: Megan Forward
‘A Patch From Scratch’ is everything I’ve been looking for in a gardening/sustainability book for years now. Aimed at young children 4+ (and I’ve happily read it to every year level from Kindy – Year Six), this book should be read far and wide as inspiration to all families to start their own patch from scratch at home. I’ll be sharing more about this fabulous book soon, but for now? Meet the creator…Megan Forward.
To purchase this book, please click on title links or cover image.
Ten Things You Need to Know About Megan Forward
Tell us about your latest book.
A Patch from Scratch is a picture book aimed at 4-8 year olds. It is the story of a family who live in the suburbs but would like to live a more sustainable lifestyle and connect back into the rhythms of nature. They set about raising chickens, preparing small vegetable gardens around their home, researching organic pest control methods and buying heirloom seeds, swapping seedlings and mulch with neighbours, and recycling much of their household and garden waste to create a sustainable food cycle. The story culminates in a neighbourhood feast prepared from their garden harvest. In the end pages there is information on how to do this for yourself, recipes for the food prepared in the story and a simple diagram on how the cycle works. I plan to have teacher’s notes, curriculum connections and further resources on my website so teachers, parents and children can explore issues around the environment, simple plant and nature science, community, health, gardening and raising chickens
2. How did you get started as a writer?
My interest in writing probably originally stemmed from my love of reading and books. I loved it when my mum read to me as a child. My favourite pastime besides drawing and painting was curled up somewhere with a book. I loved the Narnia series, Charles Dickens, The Famous Five, Pollyanna, Nancy Drew, Beatrix Potter, Dr Seuss, Little Golden Books, Ancient Roman and Greek Mythology. Any stories of adventure and courage I think were what drew me in. As an adult I love to journal to collect ideas and phrases that are circling in the air around me and putting them down on paper so I can see what I’m thinking.
3. What does a typical day look like for you?
I like to have tea in bed while I read something spiritual/contemplative and do a bit of journaling. That reminds me that I am connected to something much bigger than myself and to trust in the larger flow of the universe. That’s important because it is from this deeper place that I paint and write. That’s where I see and hear the stories that come to me. Then I walk my dogs and children to school or go swimming. After that I come home, have breakfast, make a cup of tea and head straight up to my studio where I begin to work. Depending on what I’m working on I might write, or edit some work, or research and plan the artwork for a story board, or work on drawings, or begin the painting process. At 3pm I pick up my boys and the rest of the day is usually about them but I might squeeze in emails, personal admin etc. around that.
4. Can you describe your workspace for us?
Yes, I love my workspace. It is a room in my home that gets wonderful morning and daytime light. It opens out on to a veranda so I have lovely breezes and open space to look out onto. To the naked eye it looks pretty messy some days, but I know where everything is. I have some gorgeous old map drawers I bought second hand. They weigh a ton, but are filled with all sorts of textured and creamy European papers as well as artworks and prints I’ve worked on over the years. I’ve got stretchy curtain wire hung around the walls so I can clip my work up and look at it all together and from a distance to see how the flow and colours are going.
5. Any words of advice for young readers and writers?
Well for myself I find I need some quiet spaces in my life so I can listen to the small voices of thoughts and ideas that feel like they might be worth paying attention to. I also read a lot and love to hear the voices of other authors, and look at the illustrations of artists I admire to see how they have solved visual problems. But for me it’s then important to listen out for my own voice and the things that are important to me. I guess we are all unique, no single person on the planet has experienced life or sees things from the same perspective. I think that the stories only we can tell are the ones that are most worth telling.
6. Do you have a favourite book or character (your own or somebody else’s)?
Well I have a few actually from my growing up years. I loved Pollyanna for her unwavering positivity, George from Famous Five and Nancy Drew for their fearlessness and sense of adventure, Anne of Green Gables for her perseverance, and Jo from Little Women. She was the first female I’d heard of to make a career out of writing. My all time favourite character is the way Beatrix Potter is portrayed in the movie Miss Potter. I love the relationship she had to her characters, her love of nature and the preservation of nature reserves.
7. If you were not a creator of books for young people what would you be?
I’d be a gardener or teacher showing young people how to grow and harvest their own fruit and vegies, and then write about and paint them. Actually I’m hoping to do these kinds of activities with children as I run workshops and present A Patch from Scratch in schools.
8. What is your favourite food to eat and/or your favourite music to listen to whilst you are working on your books?
I like to listen to soothing music when I’m feeling frustrated in the planning and editing stages of my work. I’ll often make a cup of tea or a hot chocolate to take up to my studio to begin work. That makes for a friendly start. When I’m in the final painting stages of my illustrations and I’ve finished all the thinking and problem solving, I love to listen to an audio book of a favourite author. I like that bit because I can put on an audio book and have a story read to me while I paint. That’s good because it can be pretty solitary work and it’s nice to feel like there’s someone telling me a story while I work. Plus I just can’t ever seem to get enough of stories!
9. How much of yourself or people you know is in your books?
A lot in A Patch from Scratch because the inspiration for this project came from my experience of creating a kitchen garden with my family and running illustration workshops and planting/gardening activities for children with my local community garden in Brisbane.
10. If you could have one wish for the world what would it be?
I believe that as a society, for the benefit of our physical and spiritual health, and the health of our future ecosystem, we need to strengthen our connections to the earth and each other. My wish is to see more children and families connecting in to their communities through education, literacy and books, and engaged in sustainable environmental issues at a local level.