Interview with Trish Donald by Becky Holland
Trish Donald is in her fifth year as a board member of the New England Writers’ Centre. Her artwork regularly makes an appearance in the newsletter.
Most recently, Trish launched her first book with Little Pink Dog Books who were looking for emerging authors and illustrators. Little Pink Dog Books liked some of her monster drawings and asked if she would write and illustrate a book where those monsters were Worry Monsters. Where they would be manifested by a young girl’s anxiety. They asked if she could overcome her Worry Monsters by using mindful breathing, that would help young children cope with their anxiety. It aligned with Trish’s desire to help parents and children connect through books.
Trish’s creative process begins with play and exploration. She starts with a shape whether it is drawn or cut out and adds to it. Often she makes the same shape or character over and over and does different
things with it; give it extra arms, hair, multiple eyes, no eyes, make it really tall. Then she might cut it out of the paper and add a different medium such as a squashed bottle cap she found on the road, or put it into the computer and play with the scale of the character. When she has a specific purpose such as developing Tissywoo and her friends at school then she does lots and lots of working drawings. Their bodies usually come later. When working on Tissywoo’s expressions Trish created pages with multiple images of her head and drew in her face exploring all the emotions. She has pages full of little drawings of her toys and the objects in her bedroom. She then assembled all the elements together until the composition and flow of the page worked to help tell the story.
We all have someone we aspire to be like or who grows our work and for Trish that is Shaun Tan. Trish loves his use of texture, industrial images, and his unusual characters. “Shaun Tan gives everything he
draws such personality and his stories are whimsical and touching and my favorite is Eric”, Trish says.
Trish is always part of the Writers’ Centre events. You might not see her there every time, but she is collecting presenters from the airport and working behind the scenes on posters and graphics for the
We asked her if she’d like to share something with the readers of The New England Muse and she said, “if you want to be published join a writer’s centre, go to as many workshops as you can and be open to
feedback. Even if the workshop is about a topic such as fantasy and you are interested in crime, go. You will find they share commonalities such as plot and character development, dialogue, how to write to the targeted age group, tips on editing and approaching agents. You also make vital connections and build a community of support around you. Lastly, you have to really want it because it is not easy. It is hard fitting everything in; work, family, friends, creative projects, staying healthy, it is not easy and you have to make sacrifices but for me, it is definitely worth the effort.”
Pitch Independent — Sophie Masson (NEWC Chairwoman)
As one of the three co-ordinators for the New England Writers’ Centre’s big Pitch Independent program, I am happy to report that it was a brilliant success! The prep day two weeks ago went really well, with lots of people getting advice and practising their pitches in front of local publishing professionals. And last weekend, we hosted a fantastic lineup of some of Australia’s best small and independent book publishers and literary magazine editors, who participated in a lively and engaging symposium, heard lots of one-on-one pitches from writers in all genres as well as illustrators, and generally gave generously, and warmly, of their time, knowledge and expertise.
It was an inspiring, creative and fun weekend, and we are so grateful to all who participated–publishers, editors, pitchers, presenters, attendees, and University of New England staff and students. All of our participating publishers and editors came from a long way away, in some cases a very long way, from Western Australia, South Australia, and Victoria as well as various locations in NSW, and we are so very appreciative that they were willing to travel to our region. Thanks very much to all the people who supported Pitch Independent by attending the symposium, and/or pitching their work–we know it takes courage and we salute you for it, hope you felt encouraged, and wish you the very best for your work, whatever the outcome of your pitch. Big thanks goes to UNE for their generous and major support of the event, financially, promotionally and with venues; to the Small Press Network for its kind support and encouragement–and to SPN Chair Michael Webster for making the long trek from Melbourne to speak at the Symposium–and to the Armidale Bowling Club for sponsoring the great venue for Saturday’s big pitch day. And of course huge thanks to the New England Writers’ Centre and all my fellow Board members who supported the creation of this event in so many ways. And to my fellow co-ordinators, John C.Ryan and Catherine Wright–hurrah! We made it! And it worked so well, worth all the hard work and all that midnight oil we burned
Pitch Independent was a unique event–nothing like it, with its focus on bringing creators and small and independent press and literary magazines together–has ever, to or knowledge, been held in Australia before. And the response has been amazing, from all, publishers, editors, pitchers, and attendees alike. It was a massive amount of work, but I am so proud to have been involved in initiating an event that we think people will be speaking about for a long time, and which will have a significant impact. We intend to continue building on the fantastic momentum created by Pitch Independent–watch this space!