Last Saturday over 200 people packed themselves into the local art gallery. Excitement crackled through the air. Many excited arms were loaded with books by Graeme Base, their owners eager to speak with Graeme after his one hour author talk. Many others were busy buying his books so that they too, could get a signature from the internationally famous author and illustrator.
Introducing Graeme Base...
Graeme Base walked up onto the platform. The audience settled. For the next hour we heard him talk about his life, his cranky art teacher that made a difference, his eighteen months of failed attempts at trying to fit into normal work in advertising, and then deciding to go out on a limb and hand his illustrations into a publisher. Lo and behold his illustrations got accepted. He did some cover art and illustrations for others. Then he decided he’d like to write his own stories and illustrate them. My Grandma lived in Gooligultch was accepted immediately by his publisher. He doesn’t know what a rejection slip looks like with his name on it.
Animalia was the book that changed his life. This was his second book and was accepted in America... but that is another story.
Many other books followed: The Sign of the Sea Horse, The Eleventh Hour, The Worst Band in the Universe, The Discovery of Dragons, Truck Dogs, Uno’s Garden, The Legend of the Golden Snail… and the list goes on.
The most important lesson I learnt from Graeme is to do what you are passionate about. As an author, what you are passionate about comes out in writing. For Graeme it is animals. For me, though I love animals, it is people that come to the fore in my writing. For years I’ve been involved in all sorts of work in the community. From youth leader, to volunteer with a disability advocacy group, volunteer as a parent helper in my children’s primary school, and volunteer with Riding for the Disabled (mixed my two loves... people and horses).
Another important lesson was that, as a writer, you take your notebook and pen everywhere with you as you never know when inspiration will hit (This I already do). For example, the inspiration for The Legend of the Golden Snail came from an interesting lamp he saw while on holiday.
All in all it was a great afternoon. I did not get to personally meet Graeme, but a couple of my friends did and so did my daughter. Maybe next time…
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