Special thanks to Claire Saxby for answering 5 questions about her recently featured book – Emu
Words have fascinated me as long as I can remember. I have always loved reading. I used to go home from boarding school and read for days on end, only emerging to swim and eat. It took me much longer to realise that I also loved writing. But I’m doing my best to make
up for lost time. I mostly write stories for children although I also write poetry (for adults and for children) and non-fiction articles. – From Claire’s Homepage
Claire’s Homepage: http://www.clairesaxby.com
#1 – What was the impetus for Emu?
I had published ‘Big Red Kangaroo’ which also has a dual narrative – narrative non fiction and non fiction text on all openings. Emu, the other side of the Australian crest, seemed like a good follow up. And I was curious about this big bird, that in some ways appears to have been put together by committee – those feet, that beak, those little wings.
#2 – How did you find the process of interweaving facts about Emus and the storyline?
It was challenging at first but it became easier once I had clear in my head that the narrative non fiction strand told the story of this particular individual, and the non fiction text offered information about the species. I research then I let the research sit on my shoulder and guide the narrative.
#3 – How did you go about doing research for the book?
I read very broadly anything I could find about emus, from scientific books and articles to fictional stories, indigenous stories, and non fiction for children and adult. I search online as well, and spent time both in my local and in our state library. I sourced emu eggs and feathers, visited an emu farm and also spent time in ‘known haunts’. Alas, no wild encounters.
#4 – In Australia, Emus are such a common part of our history. How have adults and children from other parts of the world responded to this big bird?
‘Emu’ has only recently been released in the US and the UK, so there’s not been a lot of feedback from readers yet. Reviewers have enjoyed it, and I hope children will too. I have been happy to discover how much Australian school children know about the emu. And whenever I talk in schools, there’s always at least one child with an ’emu story’. The illustrator, Graham Byrne, went bush and beyond in search of a emu nest, but didn’t find one. It seems that emu nests are so well hidden and in spots with great views of their territory that an emu will see you long before you find him.
#5 – Are you working on any new books/projects you can tell us about?
I’m working on a number of projects, some history, some for very young children and another in this Nature Storybook series. ‘Koala’ is currently being illustrated and is looking beautiful.
[Image Credit: http://s47.photobucket.com/user/mskrypuch/media/ClaireSaxby_038.jpg.html ]