Introduction of Vikki Conley – Children’s Author, Speaker, Collaborator

1) Who were you and what problem did you have when you started out?

Before I became an author, I’d worked as a journalist, marketer and photographer across three continents, often with diverse communities, and for many years with the international aid agency, World Vision. Writing and storytelling was always at the core of what I did, but the urge to write more creatively had nagged at me for most of my life. So about four years ago, I threw in my marketing job and plunged into the world of publishing and writing for children.

2) How did you solve it?

I just went for it. I wrote every day for three months solidly. I skilled up by doing a few courses specific for writing picture books (Australian Writers’ Centre and Writers Victoria). Then I kept writing until I found ‘my voice’. I started to immerse myself in the industry by joining a writer’s group, attending book launches and conferences, and pawing over websites of publishers to understand the submission’s process. I also read everything I could in the genre of which I hoped to one day be published.

3) What was the one thing that impressed you the most about following your passion?

I didn’t give up. The more I wrote, the better I got. I was happier. I was calmer.

4) How is sharing your story making a difference for you right now?

I hope it might help others also chase their dreams.

5) As a child, what was your relationship with books?

I had an insatiable hunger for books. I loved everything about them. Words seemed like magic that fascinated me endlessly. Understanding the meaning of new words was like unlocking small pots of honey. Perhaps I was slightly obsessed, because I kept several notebooks that I’d fill with words and their meanings. I was equally taken by illustrations, and the power they had to transport you to another place. I fondly remember long summers reading for days on end in our hammock under the shade of our mulberry tree, plucking ripe berries straight from the tree.

6) What is the most important thing about what you want to do?

To create wonder.

7) Do you believe books can change the world?

I believe books have the power to open minds, to help children and families imagine how things could be. They inspire, excite and educate people. Education is also the key for many communities to unlock poverty. So perhaps books could play a key role to help build a better world!

8) What do you hope people will take away from your story?

“Let it go. Let it out.
Let it all unravel.
Let it free and it can be
A path on which to travel.”
— Leunig

9) What is your ultimate goal?

To create joy through writing (for readers and myself).

10) If you could change one thing about the world, what would it be?

To remove money from the planet. Imagine if we didn’t have to work for money? Perhaps then we’d get the right leaders in the right jobs! And a more innovative, diverse and creative world.

11) What did you like about working with Red Paper Kite?

Red Paper Kite is a tiny, but lovable press. Collaborative, creative and artistic are three words that jump to mind when I think about my experience working closely with founder and publisher Sandra Van Doorn. Being matched with Italian artist Caterina Metti took my breath away because her calibre of art is just so extraordinary. Often, a picture book is a child’s first contact with fine art. I’ve loved working with Sandra and the team to create a very beautiful, artistically rich and highly entertaining book.

Introduction of Caterina Metti – Illustrator

1) Please provide a short excerpt of how you approach a project?

I love the moment when I get to read the story for the first time. It’s quite similar to a path, nothing definitive, possibilities. And I start with a good coffee, I settle to read the text. Then there is much daydreaming and I go where the story leads me.
Worlds appear. I feel lucky for the visual revelations.

2) What inspired you to become an illustrator?

I think being an illustrator just happens. I don’t know very well why.
I love sketching, painting and reading stories, and to be an illustrator is the perfect balance between all these things.
When I started as an illustrator, I wanted to prove to myself that I was able to surprise people. But I think in time what inspired me the most is the idea that children and adults can find something of their own through my illustrations.

3) What has been your journey up to this point?

I don’t know… I think it’s only just starting.
It will be in the making forever. There are so many things in the world and in people from which to be surprised that I only hope that my sensitivity can always be perceptive.

4) As a child, what was your relationship with books?

My father started to read me books when I was a “tiny cutie ball”, so I think that’s why I always loved stories, and so, books. I’m hungry for stories and pictures, and illustrations, as I was a child, so much so that I would also love to write one.

5) What is the most important thing about what you do?

I think the desire to tell stories and every time being amazed by them. But also make people and children interesting in something, feeding their imagination.

6) Do you believe picture books can change the world?

I think picture books can give to people and children beautiful moments and inspirations. People are stimulated to say “WOW!” But also to reflect on these books. I believe that people living in fun, in art, in contact with emotions can change the world.

7) What do you hope people will take away from this experience?

A lot of fun!

8) What is next?

I don’t know. I’m currently organizing three exhibitions of my works here in Italy.
But first I will be at the Bologna Children’s Bookfair to paint something about The Lost Moustache for Red Paper Kite.

9) What did you like about working with Red Paper Kite?

Red Paper Kite is for similar to a comfortable space, It feels like “Home”.
We worked hard on two books together, and I hope for others in future, but the password is: “DON’T STRESS”. Clear communication is at the base of our working relationship, and it is useful to be allowed to have creative space and much freedom.