Welcome to the shadowy and not-so-shadowy space behind Sally's books. That's Sally Odgers; author, manuscript assessor, editor, anthologist and reader. (Sally is me, by the way, and I am lots of other things too, but these are the relevant ones for now.)
The goal for 2017 is to write a post a day profiling the background behind one of my books; how it came to be written, what it's about, and any things of note that happened along the way. If you're an author, an aspiring author, a reader or just someone who enjoys windows into worlds, you might find this fun. This preamble will be pasted to the top of each post, so feel free to skip it in future.
The books are not in any special order, but will be assigned approximate dates, and pictures, where they exist.
Summer Magic Post 19
Summer Magic, (1992) began as a fantasy picture book text about Grandma, who, feeling the need for a hobby, took up swimming. She swam a lot. In fact, she swam such a lot she turned into a mermaid, somewhat to Grandpa's dismay. An editor liked the central theme of an older person being active and enthusiastic, but wasn't so keen on the fantasy aspect. He asked if I'd rewrite the text, keeping Grandma's ebullient nature but bringing it more into the realm of possibility. After some thought, I did change the story.
Grandma is feeling a bit flat and bored with life, so, with the support of her grandchildren, especially the youngest, Annie, she takes up a string of hobbies. In each case, she proves a quick learner and gets accomplished quickly. She wins a bicycle race, has an exhibition of painting, and is asked to take over teaching the cooking class she attends. Grandma is thrilled and the grandchildren are pleased and proud, but after a while she realises she's missing out on a lot because her hobbies take up nearly all her time. For example, she can't go to the children's swimming carnivals because she has an exhibition. The obvious thing is to become a full-time grandma again, but she can't go back. Finally, Annie suggests she might continue with all her activities but incorporate them in her normal life. So, Grandma cooks up a storm, and they all ride their bikes to the park.
The theme is moderation and enjoying activities instead of letting them take over your life.
There are three odd things about Summer Magic. One is that the main character is a woman in her sixties. You do get some picture books with focus on older characters, but it isn't common. Another is the cover picture which unluckily just preceded the helmet law in Australia. Oops. The third is of course the title, which, amid many of my titles which were changed during publication, somehow stayed the same. Grandma's magic summer originally contained scales and a tail. In the published version it's about painting, cycling and cooking! Oops.