Pamela Freeman and Liz Anelli win at the CBCA Book of the Year Awards

We’re so thrilled that our Director of Creative Writing Pamela Freeman and acclaimed illustrator Liz Anelli have won the Eve Pownall Award for their book Dry to Dry at the CBCA Book of the Year Awards.

Congratulations to this dynamic duo!

We chatted to Pamela about the win…

1. What does this award mean to you?

The Book of the Year Award is the most significant prize for children’s books in Australia, so it’s both exciting and confidence-building to receive it (and yes, even established authors love to have their confidence built!)

I’ve been shortlisted several times before, but never won, so it’s particularly satisfying!

2. What did you enjoy most about writing Dry to Dry?

Two things: The research (including having gone to Kakadu), and working with Liz Anelli, which is a great privilege. I'm a bit of a research junkie – the hardest part about writing the book was culling out the information; there was so much more we would have loved to include, but picture books are very strict on size!

When people think about writing for children, they automatically think about fiction or story-based picture books. But non-fiction is a fantastic area of children’s publishing, and is so much fun to do (and much less nerve-wracking). If people have a speciality in their career, they should really think about turning that into a kid’s non-fiction book!

3. How would you describe the way you and Liz work together?

It’s unusual – most of the time, authors and illustrators don’t work ‘together’ in the way people think. The writer writes a final draft, sends it to the editor, who sends it to the illustrator, who does roughs and sends them to the editor, who sends them to the author for comment… and so on. The idea is that both parties can be honest, even brutal, with their comments, and the editor acts as a very polite interpreter. I have several wonderful picture books where I’ve never met the illustrator face to face, or even talked to them on the phone.

But Liz and I became friends after Desert Lake was published (we hadn’t met until then!), and when Dry to Dry was being planned, we worked very closely together. I did a draft, then Liz went to Kakadu. I was happy to rework the text based on what she wanted to paint, because Liz is a genius and it’s her illustrations that make these books so amazing. So after she’d gone and done a fantastic collection of sketches, we met up in her studio and went through the images to decide on any changes to the words. It was so much fun!

However, I’d like to give a warning: if you have a friend who draws, do not get them to illustrate your first book before you send it to the publisher. It’s unlikely that you’re both of publishable standard, and publishers like to choose their own illustrators, especially for debut authors. If you want to illustrate your own book, then send the text with a couple of sample illustrations, and make it clear you’re okay with them choosing another illustrator.

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