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Buzz Words catches up with Katrina McKelvey

November 26, 2019

What is your latest book?
No Baths Week illustrated by Cheri Hughes (Big Sky Publishing) is my latest picture book. It’s perfect for 3 – 7 year olds.

Where did you get the idea for No Baths Week?
I have vivid memories of my daughter loving baths when she was little. My son didn’t love them as much. When we went to the beach, my daughter would jump in the waves while my son played in the sand and dug to China. Most of my books include something from watching my children when they were little.

Then during a writing course in 2013, I started thinking about baths again. I wrote a rough story plan on a wrinkled piece of paper instead of doing the writing task assigned. I knew back then I wanted to feature the days of the week in this story as well as a boy and a dog. I don’t know why I wanted a dog in the story as we didn’t have one at the time. Maybe I thought it was the closest I would get to owning one – ha! I wrote my first draft early 2014.

Why did you choose Big Sky Publishing?
Big Sky Publishing (BSP) was open to unsolicited picture book manuscripts back in 2017. I sent them two manuscripts. Then BSP chose me, plucked me from the slush pile.

Did you have long to wait for an acceptance after submission?
I submitted this one early June, 2017 and was accepted late September, so I waited close to four months. Before the acceptance, Diane Evans rang me to discuss how smaller publishers work and how they would need my support and help with publicity if they chose my stories. Then she took both my manuscripts to an acquisition’s meeting. I had submitted a second manuscript in August. A few weeks later, Di emailed me to let me know they would like to accept both my manuscripts.

Did you have to do much editing/re-writing? And who was the editor your worked with?
Sharon Evans worked with Cheri and I to do edits and guide the illustration process. Towards the end of that process, I was invited to do any last minute rewrites. The book was fully illustrated at this stage so I had to be very careful not to upset the illustrations. It had been nearly two years since the manuscript was accepted and my writing style had changed a lot, so I did a bigger rewrite than most publishers would have ever approved. The rewrite added more emotional depth to the story.

How long did you have to wait from contracting to publication?
I waited just over 18 months (Nov, 2017 – April, 2019). I’m very good at waiting … and waiting … and waiting ☺

What plans do you and the publisher have to publicise your book?
I did the first live reading of No Baths Week at the State Library of NSW as part of the SCBWI Professional Development Day for educators in Sydney in February. I had to ask special permission as we were two months out from release and I didn’t even have a hardcopy of the book! I made a slideshow using the electronic file.

There was a book launch in Newcastle in collaboration with Newcastle Region Library, a Storytime dog picnic in Lambton Park. Then Cheri ran a book launch in Melbourne in May. We are also planned a blog tour, interviews and more. BSP was at the CBCA National Conference as part of the trade fair. I was there, signing books. I also be shared this book at the CBCA NSW High Tea with the Stars event in April. I did and am doing many school visits and literary events this year so No Baths Week will make lots of appearances.

Is No Baths Week your first book?
My first book was Dandelions, illustrated by Kirrili Lonergan (EK Books) in 2015. No Baths Week illustrated by Cheri Highes (BSP) is my second book. In May my third book, Up To Something illustrated by Killil Lonergan (EK Books) was released. And I have two more books coming in 2020.

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