TAKING 5 WITH KELLIE BYRNES (Author of Cloud Conductor)
1/ Where did your inspiration for Cloud Conductor come from?
Cloud Conductor is a story about using the imagination to deal with challenges in life. The inspiration for it came when I read a newspaper article about a sick child. This lead me to think about how tough it must be for kids, especially the younger ones, when they’re ill and can’t do the things they normally love spending time on. How on earth do little ones cope with being cooped up for days or even months at a time?
Pondering this, my mind wandered to how a child’s imagination would be one of the best tools they could have in their arsenal. While obviously parents and other caregivers would be around some of the time to chat, read, and play card or board games, there would still be many times where kids are left alone, needing to rely on themselves to stay positive.
I pictured children looking up at the clouds, and seeing shapes in them, as we all did at some point (or continue to do, even as adults!). When the title ‘Cloud Conductor’ popped into my head, I imagined a little girl ‘conducting’ the clouds, to create stories and sounds she could escape her troubles with. Everything flowed on from there.
2/ What was your favourite children's book when you were little - and why?
I don’t know that I can pick a single favourite here! How about I limit myself to four?! They were:
- The Magic Faraway Treeby Enid Blyton
- Roald Dahl’s The Twits (and Matildawas another top favourite)
- Green Eggs and Hamby Dr Seuss
- The Monster at the End of This Book, by Jon Stone and Michael Smollin
There were dozens of other books I adored as well. I guess that has a lot to do with why I ended up writing kidlit!
3/ What's the best cloud shape you've ever seen in the sky?
Hmmm, I tend to see animals in the sky, particularly dogs, because I’m such an animal lover. I’ve seen some pretty cool-looking monsters in the clouds too. And even a mermaid once!
4/ If you were having dinner with a children's book character, which character would you invite - and why?
Again, so hard to choose, but I’d probably say Roald Dahl. All of his work is so incredible, and made such an impression on me as a child, that I’d love to chat with him. I really enjoyed reading his autobiographies as a kid too, so it would be fascinating to hear more of his life stories.
5/ If you had to take 3 children's books with your to a deserted island, what would they be - and why?
My answer to this would, I’m sure, change according to the day and what’s top of mind, but here are three children’s books I’d always love to have with me:
- The Magic Faraway Treeby Enid Blyton
- Harry Potter and the Philosopher’s Stoneby J.K. Rowling
- A Court of Thorns and Roses by Sarah J. Maas
As mentioned above, The Magic Faraway Tree, and the rest of that series, cemented the joys of reading for me as a kid. The book really taught me about how stories can take you to all sorts of lands, and that anything can be possible in life. I’d like to have that on a desert island to remind me of this.
Harry Potter– I imagine I don’t need to explain this one?! It is seminal kidlit, just as great on the twentieth read as it is on the first, and features themes of believing in oneself, friendship, family, and good triumphing over evil. I think this would help me to stay sane if I was alone on an island, away from everything and everyone I love.
A Court of Thorns and Rosesis one of my favourite YA novel (the whole series is brilliant, as is everything by Sarah J. Maas). I would happily read this over and over again, and be inspired by the kick-butt female protagonist to take charge of myself and my life, and find a way off the island!
Kellie Byrnes lives on the Sunshine Coast in Queensland, and is often found out and about with her two cheeky dogs (who both inspire and distract her from her work). Kellie is a children’s author, book reviewer, blogger, and freelance writer with a BA degree in Literature.
Her debut picture book, CLOUD CONDUCTOR, was released in 2018, and her second picture book, YES! NO. will be published in 2019. Kellie is a member of SCBWI and 12x12, and was recently awarded a mentorship with author Adam Lehrhaupt as part of the 2018 Writing with the Stars program. Kellie’s ghostwritten work has also been published on sites such as Huffington Post, Forbes, Lifehacker, Entrepreneur and Inc. You can find her online at www.KellieByrnes.com, on Twitter at @KellieJByrnes, and on Facebook under KellieByrnesAuthor.