Pixi’s Book of Circus

I have known Pixi, ever since we met at a Writing Group in Wollongong. She once kindly gave my family tickets to go to see Circus Oz as well when we last caught up in Brisbane over ten years ago! I was delighted to hear she has recently published a book on circus especially for children, but attractive for all ages.  Pixi has lived and studied circus, and her book is written from a true first hand and an academic researched understanding of what circus actually is.

Pixi was born in Perth and studied classical ballet.   She worked on circuses in Germany and England, flying trapeze, aerial ballet, riding elephants. Back in Australia she married a fellow-performer on Swiss Circus Royale in the “big top”. A founding member of Circus Oz, Associate Artistic Director for the first three years of The Flying Fruit Fly Circus.   She has an associate Degree in Visual Art at Western Australian Academy of Performing Arts (WAAPA), BA (1st Class Hons. Writing) and a Masters at Edith Cowan University. She self-published Bunty Armitage – Circus Girl (2014); Tempo – a circus romance (2015) both on Lulu.com; A Book of Circus (2017) and you can order on FB.  She is the Oceania Co-ordinator, World Circus Day and Co-organiser, Australian Circus Festival.

 

1.What is your earliest memory of circus? 

Seeing Bullen Bros Circus or Ashton’s Circus, or possibly Wirth’s Circus (can’t remember which but saw them all) in early 1950s in Perth. It always rained when the circus came! My main memory, is of massed girls spinning in the air, the sound of the circus band, andthe evocative smell of exotic animals.

 

2.When and why did you begin to write this circus book?

It grew out of another project, a serious, slightly academic picture book on the history of Australian Circus. I felt it was important to share the important cultural aspects of circus in the colonies and in the present day; most people have no idea of this rich, vibrant history.

 

3.Why did you pick the style of the book? And how would you describe it?

This is a picture book using real photographic images of historic and contemporary circuses and performers. The use of drawn or painted illustrations was not a consideration as too much of “circus” is presented as fantasy while it is, in fact, gutsy and earthy and real.

 

4.Why did you independently publish your book?

I’ve been submitting unsuccessfully to publishers and agents for quite some time, even though I had a Second and a Highly Commended from the Children’s Book Council of NSW “Frustrated Writers’ Awards” which ultimately led nowhere, so decided a few years ago that I just better do it myself as I can’t seem to get past the gate-keepers of the book publishing establishment.

 

5.Who is your main interested audience for this book?  Why?

The Book of Circus is designed for young circus audience members, circus fans and collectors of circus books; it has eye-appeal for children (target audience) and grandmas who buy treats at the circus. For adults it  contains information about general circus history and some facts about circus animals. It is a resource for schools, libraries and other interested parties with listings for all the travelling circuses in Australia, circus schools, circus shows and circus equipment suppliers.

 

6.What five words would your use to describe this book?

Colourful; fun; entertaining; affordable; informative.

 

7.Share  your favourite short excerpt from the book.

Given the current (and puzzling) hysteria surrounding clowns, I’m quite pleased with my explanation aimed at young children in an endeavor to normalize our clown colleagues:

Clowns are ordinary people wearing face paint and funny clothes”.

 

8.What is your favourite image in this book?  Why?

I love them all, which is why they’re in the book, but I have to admit to particularly loving “l is for lion” – young Cassius West from Stardust Circus with his favourite lion cub, just beautiful. This family of animal trainers, acrobats, aerialists and circus proprietors shares a special affinity with the Big Cats.

 

9.What advice would you give to anyone wanting to go into circus work?

Aspiring circus performers and workers need to understand that it is a way of life, not just a job, whether you are an artiste, an animal handler, the fairy-floss maker, or the on-site school teacher. Rather like farming, really, in many ways: the weather, the outdoor aspects, the animals, the constant harassment by animal activists, but with the bonus of constantly changing scenery! So if you chose this path you have to be committed 100% to 24 hour days, 7 days a week, 52 weeks of the year. Hard work? Yes, of course, but more rewarding than you could ever imagine.

 

10. What advice would you give to new writers when picking a topic to write about?

Let the topic pick you. I never meant to write about circus, but it just keeps happening, ha, ha!

 

 

How to get hold of the book

Pixi is now taking orders for A BOOK OF CIRCUS.  $15 plus postage. VIA email:  sumarapixi@hotmail.com

You can find out about her other circus books via Lulu

More information about Pixi is HERE

 

Tempo on Lulu

Thanks so much for appearing on the blog Pixi!  May you write many more books of circus!

 

 

Presenting at Sandcliffe Festival: June’s Preparations

Last year when I was running my kickstarter campaign I came across the Sandcliffe Writing festival whilst online, and it looked kind of cool because it was concerned with diversity and was in Brisbane.

I emailed them to let them know I thought their festival looked great and to say I had a book coming out,  Magic Fish Dreaming, would they be interested in my participation.

I promptly forgot all about it, and then early this year an email from the lovely Adele Moy arrived, with a phone number and asking me to ring her about the Festival, she apologised for taking so long to get back to me.

I phoned Adele as she requested and had the most beautiful conversation about diversity, life, writing, family and my book which went much longer than I think we both expected, and next thing I know I am on a panel to tell my unique story.

I met Adele for the first time in person at the Insights of an Outsider Panel last week, and felt like I had known her for years.  She greeted me with such friendliness and warmth.  Thanks for that Adele.

I am going to give you three photographic hints about my presentation on Saturday, and well you will have to attend to find out fully what this all means.  I am going to share the story of  my main inspirations, and the things that compelled me to write.

My favourite literary character, Mma Ramotswe, in The No.1 Ladies’ Detective Agency novels, by Alexander McCall Smith, because she is curious, caring and looks for the most just resolution to any situation. She also knows a story for almost every situation.

Now I don’t have to tell you to go to any links really because this is my main blog home and if you are reading this well you are here.  But I can also be found on twitter, instagram and facebook.

My website is HERE

So if you want to catch my very first festival appearance for Magic Fish Dreaming

Unique Journeys

April 29th commencing 9am

Bracken Ridge Library, 77 Bracken St, Bracken Ridge

Join authors Duncan Richardson, June Perkins, and Michael Aird as they talk about their inspiration  and ideas and what compels them on their creative journey, where they are today, and where they hope to be in the future.

A huge thankyou to the Sandcliffe Writers Festival Organisers for giving me the opportunity to share the story of why I love writing so much and how I set about becoming an author! I also look forward to the literary dinner with Matthew Condon on Friday and the panel following ours (and the lunch!) and catching up with Lauren Daniels.

PLEASE NOTE FOR SALE

 I will be selling copies of Magic Fish Dreaming, $18 each and signing them at the event.

Please bring cash, exact change if you can is much appreciated.

For $25 in total you can receive a custom printed calico bag  along with your book.

Harry Helps Grandpa – Approaching Alzheimer’s in a Picture Book

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Karen pictured with the book

Karen Tyrrell is an award winning Brisbane based, ‘resilience ‘author, who publishes on this theme for both children and adults.   Her earlier books, like Stop the Bully,  have dealt with themes like bullying and mental health.  Harry Helps Grandpa Remember marks a slight change in direction,  in tackling the realities of dementia and their impact on family, although it still has at its heart the theme of empowerment and emotional resilience.  

Harry is about the special love between a little boy and his grandpa who has Alzheimer’s. Harry will do ANYTHING to help his grandpa remember . . .

1. June: Why do you think picture books on this topic are important?

Karen: One in six people are affected by dementia, Alzheimer’s and memory loss. These stats are on the sharp incline. Children are affected by their grandparents and loved-ones affliction and need to understand the disease and how their grandparents still love them. Picture books are the perfect way to teach children coping skills for memory loss.

2. June: What does your book offer that isn’t in other books already out there?

Karen: Harry Helps Grandpa Remember is written from the children’s point of view, as a problem solving, problem verses solution challenge. Harry gently shows the realities of dementia at the same time encourages children to take an active role in their grandparent’s lives. Harry Helps Grandpa Remember teaches memory boosting skills and coping skills for the child and for the one affected.

3. June: I’ve heard about your pantomime of the book. Why did you launch it with a bit of play acting?

Dementia is a difficult subject to present to children. An interactive, multi-media pantomime displaying humour, strong emotions and a sense of fun communicates the deep messages of dementia awareness, coping skills and most of all, love. The pantomime and the actual story Harry Helps Grandpa Remember spring-boards in-depth discussion.

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Scene from the Pantomime  at one of the local launches.

4.  June: Who was involved?

Karen: Actually our writer’s group, Write Links played most of the key parts. The lead role of Harry was played by Anthony Puttee, who played Bailey in Bailey Beats the Blah, a book about lifting a child’s mood.

5.  June: As a hybrid publisher (seeking traditional publishing options but also self publishing) myself I am interested in how you found your designer and editor.

Karen: My designer, Anthony Puttee designed the cover for Harry Helps Grandpa Remember and formatted the pages too. My editor, Penny Springthorpe is an ex-Penguin editor. I worked collaboratively with her, developing the characters and the story line to the highest possible standard. Both Penny and Anthony work for Book Cover Café, who act as my publishing advisers for my imprint Digital Future Press. I’ve worked with Book Cover Café since my very first resilience book, Me and Her: A Memoir of Madness.

6.  June: What did you most like about working with them?

Karen: I loved working with all the staff of Book Cover Café in a collaborative way, bouncing ideas off each other. I independently sub-contacted illustrator Aaron Pocock to create full colour illustrations. Penny, Anthony and Aaron are all incredibly talented and creative. They’re all perfectionists too, demanding their own work is completed to the highest publishing standard.

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Harry Helps Grandpa Remember  is now on Amazon world-wide as a print Book and as an eBook.  You can also find it in many local Brisbane book stores.

ISBN: 9780987274083

Blog Tour Book Giveaway

Please leave a comment on any of the visiting sites or a chance to win a signed print copy or 5 eCopies of Harry Helps Grandpa Remember. 6 Copies to be won. 6 Winners announced 3 July.

Next Stop

The next and final stop in the blog tour is  1 July Dimity Review http://dimswritestuff.blogspot.com.au/

You can still also retrace the tour and make comments on earlier visiting sites.

Books and Brunch with Pam

Catching up with Pam for brunch at New Farm – October 4th

On Saturday I was delighted to catch up with my dear friend Pam Galeano, who was doing a visit to family and promoting her books, now available at New Farm Editions, and being the special lady she is before doing her author duties she treated me and my daughter to a birthday brunch as a present.

She has written five picture books over the last few years,Glissandra the Glider, Hull River Rolley, Elmo the orphan, Count Back Crocodile, and Cassowary Coast Count on Country, so next time you are over at New Farm Editions look for them on the shelves.

She has worked closely with three illustrators, all themselves talented ladies. I was fortunate to attend a few of the local launches in the Cassowary Coast.  Pam was one of the first people to make me and my family feel welcome during my time living there and I enjoyed our time together as part of the Licuala Writers Group and co-working together on our writer’s group anthology and other projects.

Boolarong now distributes all her publications to bookstores but she and her illustrator partners sell directly to tourism outlets and gift shops. Boolarong Press.

Pam and Books – at New Farm Editions

Stop the Bully: Karen Tyrrell Writing to Empower the Young

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Karen is offering a free book for the best comments on the book blog stop tour.

 

Writing to empower young people and children is a topic close to my heart, so I was thrilled to interview Karen Tyrrell, a local Brisbane author and former teacher, about her latest book Stop the Bully.

I met Karen virtually through the Monday writing sprint group on facebook (started by Anita Heiss and now chaired by Angela Sunde) which we are both members of and more recently have caught up with her in real space at Write links ( interested in joining email – brisbanewritelinks@gmail.com)

Karen’s book is written with children, victims, bullies and bystanders, parents, teachers, school Principals and the community all in mind.  It focuses on eight to twelve year olds but as we shall find out is intended as inspiring and equipping anyone reading it to stop bullying. I ask Karen what led her to write a book about how to deal with bullying.

She explains:

I was bullied as a child. Grade six was a bad year for me.  I dealt with it by focusing on my school year and doing well.  Later as an adult I was bullied when working as a teacher, by both parents and students over a period of two years, and although I initially seemed to cope with it, I ended up in a psychiatric hospital and suffering from a mental illness.  I have since recovered from the bullying and mental illness and have become a mental health advocate and anti-bullying campaigner. 

I realise now, I am the kind of person who when criticised becomes stronger and these experiences have made me into the advocate I am today. The goal with Stop the Bully was to create a fast paced story, a page turner with hooks that could send out positive messages about bullying prevention and resilience. I wanted an appealing story, where children could become engrossed in the story and care about characters.

Karen wanted to create a narrative which would empower readers to have their own discussions about how the characters deal with their challenges. She tells me the storyline of Stop the Bully:

Eleven year old Brian is hiding something can Brian stop the bully without revealing his shameful secret… His life is falling apart. Dad abandoned his Mum and sister Tara. Brian hates his new school. And now an aggressive bully attacks him every day. His shameful secret is a mystery, and is clues and hints as to what it might be are part of what makes the reader want to turn the page as they wonder  What will Brian do?  What will happen next? The mystery reveals the bullying dilemma from all angles including his parents, his classmates Pete and Amelia, his teacher Miss Bliss, the principal and even the bully who reveals his honest perspective.

Karen is keen to emphasise Stop the Bully will appeal to a wider audience than children being bullied:  

It is a helpful tool for Teacher’s counsellors, mental health workers, and parents – as well as children themselves and I’ve had many children’s writers interested in it too.

I could have done with this book when my children were this age and being bullied and can’t help but share some of our family story with Karen. She is an empathetic listener.

Karen shares one of the major strategies for dealing with bullying in her book:

The book covers a range of strategies as different approaches might be needed depending on the situation, but the bigger picture is that a team including victim, perpetrators, parent, classmates and community is needed to deal with bullying, I cover all angles in Stop the Bully.

I am particularly taken with the idea that the whole community needs to be involved in stopping bullying.

Although it is early days in the case of the response to the book from the public, Karen has had a number of beta readers and reviewers from advocates for mental health to school Principals, children’s writers, and parents with children in the target age group of the book.  She is active in a number of writing groups for adults and children and has drawn strength and support from these writers to write her book.

Since Karen’s past mental illness and triumphant recovery she has maintained links and connection with SANE and Beyond Blue.  The response, from all who have had early exposure to the book, whilst it has been written, or in the limited pre-release has been overwhelmingly positive.

I was excited to receive some five star reviews and an extremely positive response from a school Principal.  One of the reviewers, Ali Stegert, was particularly impressed that I wrote about the bully as sensitively as I wrote about the victim.

Another reviewer, a Children’s Mental Health promotion specialist is equally glowing:  ‘My kids couldn’t put this book down!  Clever characterization and compelling storyline gives ample opportunity for in-depth discussions on bullying and the strategies needed to tackle it.’ — Michael Hardie.

Karen’s most cherished goal is to have the book resonate with and empower children and their families.

She intimates that it is the:  

emotion in book which allows young readers to identify with either Brian or his other classmates, a few kids going through challenge, boy and girl characters, empathise challenges, identify anti- bullying strategies come together at end.  The book aims to open up discussions and then children can identify how they would react.  

Just a few of the writers Karen considers inspirational to her own journey are:

Anita Heiss, Jenny Stubbs, and Susan Gervay for their work in the community with literacy, spreading positive social messages. Susan Gervay has also written a book about bullies, called I am Jack.  PLUS I am spurred on by real life working class heroes who strive to speak out to help humanity.

I am inspired by people who have had big challenges in their lives, bullying, abuse, domestic violence and have then risen up and often become advocates for others.

 

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The best comment on this blog will receive a free book from Karen.

When I ask Karen whether this book might have made a difference to her as a child she answers thoughtfully:

When I was a child bullying was not spoken about at all, school was all about learning facts.  I had no idea when I was in year 6, of what to do, and felt like victim. Reading a book like this as a child could have possibly have changed my future life. Although the experience I had was necessary to writing this book.  That said I think I have become stronger through my experiences and developed emotional wisdom and self -awareness, as well as greater awareness of how other people feel.

The irony of bullying is that whilst it is an experience that tests our children and can have dire consequences, for those who develop the same self -awareness and emotional wisdom as Karen it can be a crystallising and motivating experience.

The conversation with Karen, makes me recall another one with a woman who on hearing about my son’s experience of being bullied through high school by both students and teachers, had the self-awareness to admit, ‘I was a bully at school, and I totally regret it.  We went for the sensitive boys, and one in particular who we teased or ignored, grew up to be extremely handsome and successful, and we gave him hell at school.’

There are several launches of Stop the Bully planned for Queensland. One has already been held in Brisbane. The Logan launch of the book will be held at Logan Library on June 21st Karen is looking forward all those who would benefit from the book joining her. All are welcome. There will be taekwondo demonstrations and some guest speakers in the mental health advocacy field.

To further enhance the engagement of children with the book Karen has some online support resources.

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The Next Stop in the Blog Tour for this Book is:  Nicky Johnson Review 11th June http://www.nickyjohnston.com.au/blog

STOP the Bully is endorsed by Kids Helpline and aligned with Kids Matter, Australian curriculum.

Download FREE children’s activities and FREE teacher notes from www.karentyrrell.com

ISBN: 9780987274069

Now available from Stop the Bully Amazon.

 

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