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?


  1. karenmcfarland says

    Hi Alarna! I totally believe that what you’re writing is from the heart. It comes across in your blog and no doubt it will come across in your series too. I think it is awesome how much Pepi inspires you. Viva Pep!!! 🙂

  2. says

    Alarna thanks for the share I love the idea of Pepi and I wish you every success with your journey. I love how a story finds us, my problem being I have to many cramming up my head. Indeed they need to be set free. Looking forward to following your success.

  3. says

    I love that you are writing a series based on your beloved pet, Pepi. I think that is one of the nicest, sweetest homages a human can make to a pet. I fully agree writing is mysterious, and it’s never the same thing twice. We just have to go along for the ride.

  4. lynnkelleyauthor says

    Ah, it’s wonderful to hear you’re working on the next four Pepi books! Yay! I’m looking forward to reading them, and I agree they’re not just for kids. Now I have the song from the video stuck in my head! Catchy little tune, for sure! 🙂

  5. says

    Aw, this is so awesome! Pepi sounds like a fine character. Writing about animals is a whole different world, but so much fun. In my current WIP, I had a good time playing with a more prominent pet character…a clumsy cat who the main character curses and loves. : )

  6. says

    Sorry Alarna I’m getting here only now! I know I read the first book of Hello Pepi and loved it and fell in love with Pepi! I can’t wait to hear your announcement about the the rest of the series being out!
    Oh, I just love how much you love my roses!

    • says

      I’ve never seen such healthy, well-loved roses 🙂 No apologies – I’ve had a hectic week myself. Now I’m itching to get the next books out as soon as I can! Have a great Easter, Rita. Will be over to ‘visit’ you soon 🙂

  7. says

    Nothing as good as reading out loud, listening to a writers words spill like liquid licorice from the bottle (black ink), except I don’t like licorice that much, so for me, words are like rivers deep in chocolate, rich, dark, mysterious until heard, waiting on each page to turn. I can remember a solid wooden box with a fliptop double lid too, but more like a crate in size, eight foot by three and it was filled to the brim with an assortment picture books for us kids, well there were/are five of us so there had to be plenty to go around, some were more wordy than others, but that was okay.

    Waiting for the full set of Pepi to come out, but finding it hard to wait, so much going on… Thanks for letting us in on your progress.

    What’s the most child-like guilty pleasure you enjoy? Making sand castles and eating ice-cream, because days at the beach were rare while growing up. What am I saying, they’re still rare, but fun still too…

    • says

      Words that spill, yes, this is the stuff. The stuff that rolls off the tongue. The equivalent would be a fine liqueur, for me 😉 But I love the idea of a wooden chest full of colourful literary treasures!

      Sandcastles? A rare enough occupation for me, too, but there are still a few kids around to enjoy it with.

      Pepi progress – slow even for me, I must confess. Though I am told all good things are worth waiting for…. 😉 Will indeed keep you posted. Happy Easter, Sean!

      • says

        A fine liqueur sounds good, always partial to peach ones in the summer time. But I was in childhood mode, hence the liquorice and chocolate 🙂

        Yes, an occupation, and a place to live without rates or bills, just have to be aware of erosion and flooding tides 🙂

        Good things, all worth the wait, yes… Happy Easter, ALARNA!

  8. says

    Can I just tell you how much I love the illustrations in your books? I adore that nostalgic look. And I’m so excited you’re working on more in the series! Also can totally relate to your writing process: sometimes linear, sometimes not. Totally.

  9. says

    Rose whisperer? Ha! This I must see, as mine are looking a bit spotty this week.

    You are not the first in this hop who writes by hand, then transfers digitally. Might have to try it. A dancing dog is not a bad idea, either. Your books (and the accompanying artwork) are wonderful. It’s no wonder, since all of it is Pepi pre-approved.

    • says

      Nothing ever happens without Pepi’s paw print! 😉 Yes, there’s a certain freedom in hand writing. I’m not sure for me if that would translate to prose as well as poetry. But worth trying.


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