Calling All Children’s Authors and Illustrators – CYA Conference 2017

June 22, 2017

Do you remember your favourite children’s book? I had many favourites including ‘The Secret Garden’, ‘The Magic Faraway Tree’ and later ‘What Katy Did’ and ‘Little Women’. My most loved times as a mother and teacher were introducing new books and reading aloud to children. Seeing the rapt expressions, hearing their giggles and sensing the children’s excitement when they were listening to a new story were priceless gifts.

I had the pleasure of speaking to Tina Clark, who writes as T.M Clark, the organiser of the CYA Conference. This conference brings together aspiring children and young adult writers and illustrators and presents workshops, talks and provides mentoring from established authors and illustrators. Editors and publishers are also on hand to offer their insights and knowledge of the industry and set you on the road to publication.

I asked the lovely Tina to shed some light on what we can expect from the conference this year.

What are some of the highlights of this year’s conference ?

1. Jacqueline Harvey- is running a master class on Junior and Middle Grade fiction: How and why she writes for children and how you can too. This is a particular stand out as Jacqueline was a teacher, so she knows not only how to write fabulous books (having just celebrated her millionth one!!) but also how to impart that same knowledge onto those in her class.

People in her master class are in for an awesome three hours. She’s also presenting a talk on putting it all on the table. How she celebrated selling her millionth book and taking questions from the audience.

2. Shaun Tan will be appearing via a Skype session where he will be explaining the process from conception to completion, and a few gems, like technology changes and the importance of editing and leaving out things in a book. Shaun will explore the problems participants are grappling with, from creative and publishing issues and sharing what he can about his own positive and negative experiences.

Who would most benefit from attending the conference?

Anyone who ever wanted to write or illustrate a children or young adult book as well as aspiring and already published authors would benefit greatly from attending the conference. The CYA Conference is multi- level targeted and no matter where you are in your publication journey you can benefit from attending these sessions. We expect a tangible outcome from every workshop, so we try and ensure that you are learning all the craft, information and also creating a network in the right profession at the same time.

What else can we expect from the CYA Conference?

There are lots of amazing workshops:

Pamela Rushby is presenting a session on education vs trade. Which one should you aim for?

Pamela has written over 100 books for both trade and educational publishers.

Natalie Hatch- The Adolescent Brain- What drives adolescents and how to incorporate this into your writing.

There is a Publisher’s Panel where you can learn about the real process behind the editor looking at your submission. Many editors from around Australia will take you through the process of what happens before you receive the dreaded rejection letter.

There’ll be sessions with Phil Kettle on writing stories that kids will actually pick up and read.

Michelle Worthington will show us how to create dynamic picture books and Jake Harris will give a crash course in writing in the electronic games industry. Many more workshops are outlined on the CYA conference site. There really does seem to be something for everyone in these eclectic sessions.

Lastly, one of the teachers from Higaturu Oil Palm International School will be attending the conference. For the last few years the conference has been part of a project that has shipped books to schools and libraries in Papua New Guinea. The professional development and knowledge gained from the conference will be shared with other teachers and librarians across PNG. A wonderful initiative!

What were your favourite books as a child?

Growing up in Africa T. M.Clark enjoyed reading anything by Joseph Rudyard Kipling and ‘Jock of the Bushveld’ by Sir James Percy Fitzpatrick.

Tina adds, “But when my kids were younger, the two books that stuck with me were Fairy Dreams by author/illustrator Carol McClean Carr. We would spend hours looking for the treasures in this book and saying the rhymes over and over. Also Snow Bear by Lilliana Stafford which taught compassion and also to accept the individual and their uniqueness. As Tina, who runs the CYA conference, my favourites are all the book babies that CYA has been part of and helped create. I often wonder where they would be without the CYA Conference.”

So if you are keen to become the next Mem Fox or Andy Griffiths this might be just the conference for you. Come along and network, learn from the professionals and fine tune your story so it is ready for publication. Bookings are now open for sessions. The 12th CYA conference will be held in Brisbane on Saturday 1st July at the TAFE Queensland Brisbane – South Bank.

Michelle Beesley
Freelance writer, wife and mother of three sons, occasional supply teacher and aspiring romance author, Michelle Beesley can be most often found in a coffee shop chatting with friends or beside a rugby field cheering on her favourite teams.

Michelle is a prolific—albeit reluctant—traveller, keen walker, bookworm and yoga enthusiast who loves anything pink or sparkly (including champagne!).