Today, debut fiction picture book author Julie Murphy joins us to talk about her recently released book, Gilly's Treasures (Cedar Fort). Welcome, Julie, and congratulations!
Thanks, Jody! It is wonderful to be here. Thanks for having me over.
First, tell us about you. You live in
Yes, I live in
Melbourne, which is a major city in southeastern Australia. Melbourne is located near
the coast. I love the sea, and have a few favorite coastal spots that we regularly
visit for family holidays.
It looks amazing! How did you come up with the idea for Gilly's Treasures?
It was a combination of my love of the beach, and my feelings about advertising constantly bombarding us with messages that we will be happier if we get more stuff. Seagulls can be greedy for anything edible, and my character Gilly takes it a step further. He likes finding shiny, pretty things, and can’t stop wanting more.
Sounds really cute, and relatable! Did the writing come quickly, or did you write several drafts?
The story has been with me for so long that it is actually quite hard to remember! I think the general story came fairly quickly but I have no doubt that, as with all my stories, I then revised it ad infinitum. I actually entered it early on as a short story in a Fable (for adults) competition and it got an honorable mention, which was encouraging. So then I developed it into a picture book. I remember it took me ages to even settle on a name for my main character. For a while I was quite attached to “Gulliver.” I thought “Gulliver’s Treasures” had a certain ring to it. In the end, however, the name didn’t flow well in the text, and I thought the joke probably wouldn’t work with most children. (GULLiver, and the classic story "Gulliver's Travels." Get it? Okay, never mind.)
Ha! Once you finished writing, how long did it take to sell it? Cedar Fort is a
Right. Cedar Fort is a Utah-based publisher. Many of its books are LDS-oriented, but they also publish general books that are uplifting and help people to think about what’s important in their lives. I discovered Cedar Fort when I read a tweet from their then Commissioning Editor, Ashley Gephart, on Twitter’s Manuscript Wishlist (#MSWL). She said that she was looking for “uplifting/family values” stories. So I sent off Gilly and quickly got a favorable reply. My pitch went something like: While out fishing, Gilly the seagull finds a beautiful, shiny treasure. He loves it so much he can’t help searching for more…and more. Will he ever be satisfied with what he has? My experience just goes to show how important it is to target manuscripts to appropriate publishers!
Wow! Social media to the rescue! Did you work with your editor on further revisions?
Yes, some very minor ones - only changing a word here and there.
What would you like kids to take away from your book?
Great question! I would like kids to take away a number of things. Firstly, a love of story and reading…although hopefully they already have that! I’d also like them to spare a thought about what matters most to them, and to be encouraged to get out and experience nature for themselves. And lastly, I hope they enjoy the fun and playfulness in Illustrator Jay Fontano’s striking artwork, which offsets my story really well. Jay has introduced a great little character too – a friendly crab – who children will have fun spotting on many pages.
What else is on your plate?
Oh, I always have lots on my plate, but I generally enjoy the juggling act. Right now I have several stories at different stages of development; most are picture book manuscripts (fiction and non-fiction), and there is an early reader also calling for my attention. My next book to be published is a non-fiction illustrated picture book for 4-8 year olds, about fascinating feet of the animal world. It will be called I’ve Got Feet! - from Amicus Ink (distributed by
Chronicle) in 2017. I also have
more deals in the pipeline that I can’t talk about yet. I am almost bursting
from wanting to spill the beans! Rest assured that when the time is right I
will happily reveal all on my website and Twitter - follow me via the links below to stay in touch!
Ooh, secrets! Sounds great, Julie! And now, readers, for the giveaway:
Cedar Fort has generously provided a copy of Gilly’s Treasures to give away to one lucky US reader. To enter, tell me your favorite beach activity in the comments below. The winner’s name will be posted on this blog and on my Twitter (@jodywrites4kids) on December 12.
You can visit Julie at www.juliemurphybooks.com
Facebook (with book preview): www.facebook.com/GILLYSTREASURES
Gilly’s Treasures is available from many on-line book stores and Cedar Fort’s sales site, Books & Things (which offers free postage to most parts of the
Thanks, Julie, and good luck with Gilly's Treasures!
Thank you, Jody! It has been an absolute pleasure.