Känguru Hop

This week I was tagged in a blog hop by Rita, the crafty almost-Australian French Canadian writer and rose whisperer over at Crafty Expat. (Have you ever seen roses like these?).

I’m pretty impressed by Rita’s commitment to the path less travelled from criminal lawyer to tortured writer. Hop over here to learn more.

But for this week, here are my answers on all things writerly:

What am I working on?

HP Titles clusterGood question. Given my relative silence on the matter, you’d be forgiven for thinking I’m having you all on, that the first three books of Hello Pepi were just a ruse, a means of tricking you into believing Toy Dogs Are For Real.

But it’s no ruse – toy dogs demand to be taken seriously! All of last year until now I have been working with an illustrator to complete the final four books in the series – a fictionalised account of the real life Pepi, in verse.

How does my work differ from others in its genre?

I could tell you about the things it does and doesn’t have in common with Tales of Peter Rabbit. Or how the illustrations evoke the classic feel of Alice in Wonderland.

I could say this is not a children’s story, but rather a story for kids of all ages. And I could tell you how Pepi would object to being used as a device for a human centred tale.

Or, I could simply show you one of the songs in the Hello Pepi inspiration soundtrack. A song that tells about a day in the life of Schnappi the Krokodil.

(How could you Not fall in love with this creature?)

Why do I write what I do?

I wrote this series because Pepi taught me many things. He taught me how to love, how to listen, how to speak. His greatest gift was that he taught me how to live.

Most importantly, I wrote this series because small dogs, and by extension, small creatures, are so often misunderstood, misrepresented and overlooked in the greater human narrative.

But they have their own stories to tell. Stories that not only need to be told, but need to be heard.

How does my writing process work?

PepiDaneWriting is a mysterious thing. I hardly know how this came into being. Except that Pepi somehow linked his synapses with my brain waves and transmitted a story in lines and images that surprised us both.

I’d write solidly for half a day, a combination of scribbled lines that were then shaped and reworked on the digital page.

Sometimes it was linear. Sometimes the end came before the beginning. Possibly, there was a little bit of Rhymezone involved (ahem).

Always there was an animated sequence in my mind that somehow made it to the page.

When I was done, I would read it out aloud to Pepi. And he would jump up from his bed and dance for me.

Since this blog hop came to me from the land down under, I thought it only appropriate (in the spirit of Schnappi and his hopping Känguru friend) to extend the hop to another Australian writer.

Kath Unsworth is new to my blogging world, but I was immediately taken with her magical illustrations of miniscule moments (and other creatures), as her knack for making a story out of almost anything.

Here’s her bio:

manny2Kath Unsworth is an artist and writer who lives down the far south coast of Australia, her dream is to create, illustrate and write happy hopeful picture books for children. She takes her inspiration from the world around, remembering what it was like to be a child. She hopes to inspire others to follow their dreams.

Kath blogs weekly about the journey of a writer at Minuscule Moments, using her photos and art to give her readers a personal view on the journey. Learning the craft of writing and illustrating picture books, whilst balancing every day life as a mum with two children.

What’s the most child-like guilty pleasure you enjoy?

Small is Big

While many of you have been enjoying that last of summer’s sizzle, this past fortnight saw me huddled in my own bundle of mid-winter misery.

So here I was on Monday, fighting off my winter woes, when a precious little package arrived in the mail…

DSC01061

Inside was a hand-painted wooden box…

DSC01065

A gorgeous hand-crafted bracelet…

DSC01068

A curious note…

DSC01071

And a hand-written letter from a special faraway nephew

DSC01090It’s been almost a year since Pepi passed away, and his story was released into the digital landscape of endless ones and zeros.

Who knew he would capture the imagination of young men and colourful painters half a moon away, and come back to nudge me with his little button nose?

“So much personality in such a tiny package!” someone said about him, once.

And they were right. He was always so much bigger than I gave him credit for…

GiftofLove

Somehow, the writer boy reached through the fabric of reality and delivered an enormous Pepi-shaped hug – just when I needed it. I am deeply moved.

Who is Oliver Colors? Where will Pepi’s legend show up next? Only time will tell…

Thank you, Vincent Mars, for this rare and beautiful gift. YOU will never be forgotten.

Tell me about something small you feel is a BIG deal…

Hello, World!

This week, I’m introducing you to a little fella who’s been itching to guest post on my blog.  I wasn’t sure I should let him loose – you never know what he might say.  But in the interests of going with the flow…

Please say, “Hello, Pepi!”

______________________________________________________________________

Hello, World!! Finally, she let me out of my pen!

She promised me fame and fortune, but seriously, this writer has been sleeping on the job.  I bet you don’t even know there are already three e-Books out about me…

ME, ME, ME!

Pepi

Me when I was still a pup! How cute am I?!

  • Name: Pepi.
  • Age: Forever Young.
  • Breed: Small dog. BIG personality. (If you must know…chi cross foxy).
  • Eyes: Chestnut.
  • Fur: Raven silk (with peppered milky paws!).
  • Star sign: Gemini.
  • Likes: Bouncy balls, squeaky toys, Mummy’s platform shoes, foreign languages, talking, sugar, spice and Mummy’s home cooked food, being the centre of attention, all creature comforts, MUSIC!
  • Dislikes: Being ignored.
  • Idol: Prince.
  • Theme song: Return of the Mack.

So. Where was I?

That’s right.  There comes a time in a dog’s life when he needs friends.

At least that’s what Mummy tells me.  Apparently I’ve been chewing on too many of her shoes…

Pepichew

Anyway, she’s in the process of finding me what she calls a ‘fur friend’. Can’t help feeling a little bit demoted – who said anything about fur friends?!

I want HUMAN friends! Like my mate, Andi.

She’s cute, adorable and (okay, a little bit naughty) – just like me! She loves dogs…

AndreaTweet

…and she totally gets my need for celebrity!

The other day she set me up with my very own Twitter account! She’s my bestest buddy in the whole wide world – I follow her everywhere!

I’m so excited! At the risk of sounding a little bit needy… :P

Pleeeeease follow me… I wanna play…!!

PepiParkies

I promise, if you do, we’ll have a blast…!!

______________________________________________________________________

Phew! I’m glad he didn’t give away too many secrets…

Thanks for tuning in! We wish you a wonderful Easter break.

But before you go. Are there any Twitter tips you’d care to share with Pepi to keep him out of mischief?

There was a little puppy…

…With a coat of raven silk,

A lightning splash upon his chest

And paws of peppered milk…


ANNOUNCING

the Release of

Hello Pepi: A Toy Dog is for Real

A series about the special friendship
between a toy dog and his most important person.

Based on a true story.

Books 1 to 3

Out Now for 99 cents on Amazon!

To my beloved followers:

In celebrating Pepi’s joie de vivre, and in appreciation of your support, the first book is Free for You until the next blog post is out.

Just leave your email address in the comments, and I’ll gift you the book from Amazon :) .

Alternatively, email to: alarnarosegray (at) gmail (dot) com.

If you’re new to this blog, it’s okay!  Subscribe now – as long as it’s before the next blog post, the offer stands.

Thank you for joining me in honouring the memory of the little Pepi being.  May his spirit be with you…

Sketching Memories

Since my loyal blogging buddy passed away, I have to confess to inspiration having been in short supply.

Left to my own devices, I’d have put the fictional Pepi aside for a future never-never date, and wallowed quietly alone.

Instead, I found myself mid-way through illustrations for Book 2, with an artist waiting to be paid, and a crazy goose unleashed upon the world.

The show must go on!

At first, I felt guilty and disturbed.  But as the lines between fiction and reality blurred, there came a peace.

It’s as though he is still here with me, in the fullness of his youth – and I am comforted.

The process of illustrating Pepi has had its challenges.  No matter how many times you rearrange words on a page, all you have in the end is an approximation of the picture you might like to draw.

With very few photos to reference, the question remains how to convey the pictures that exist inside your head?

To this end, I’ve been fortunate to work with a very talented illustrator, who is not insulted by my lame attempts at storyboarding.

Instead, with a little magic, she has transformed the vision of a shy, dorky everygirl and some squiggles on a page…

…into Mona, an unpretentious city girl…

…a peppy little puppy…

…and precious fragments of shared memory.

Anyone who knew Pepi, and cared to see past the exuberance of a little yappy dog, saw in him an undeniable spirit of love and positivity.

It was his sixteen year long gift to me.

Was it unconditional?  Hell no!  Like any feeling creature, he had his pet grievances and gripes.  It’s just that he refused to be quelled.  (And I can tell you, he would not have wanted to be kept inside a drawer…)

So, in honour of his unquellable spirit, I’ve decided to set a date for the launch of Hello Pepi.

Fingers crossed, ready or not, Books 1 to 3 will be out on 16 November.

There will be plenty of opportunities to grab a free copy, for more than anything, I want to share his joie de vivre with you.

If you could sketch a memory of the joy of life, what would it be?