Interview with Maggie O’Hara

 

Today I am privileged to be interviewing Margie O’Hara, author and illustrator of the children’s book “The Elly Rose Adventures”

 

As a child, what did you want to do when you grew up?

I wanted to be an architect or author.

 

When did you first realise you wanted to be an author?

I wrote my first children’s chapter book at age 8 years old. I still have the old manuscript at home. It’s faded and barely readable now.

 

What is your favourite childhood book?

Anything from Enid Blyton and of course CS Lewis.

 

What do you think is the biggest misconception about your genre?

That authors make heaps of money or that writing a children’s book is easy.

 

What or who inspired you to write “The Elly Rose Adventures”?

I wanted to write a travel adventure aimed at children. There are heaps of travel books for adults, but not a lot for children. I want to inspire children to travel and experience different cultures. Travel and writing are my two passions and I wanted to combine both into a children’s story for my future grandchildren (one day). I have been lucky to have travelled to many different places around the world and have many photos to turn into illustrations.

 

Was it harder to write the story or illustrate it?

Most definitely harder to write it. I start back to front from most authors. I have the basic idea, the place and the setting in mind. I then take photos from different angles to use later in the illustrations. Often the illustrations start to take on their own life and shape the story accordingly. Then I fine tune the illustrations to fit the final story.

 

How long did it take to complete the project

12 months from the first idea. It took a couple of concepts before I settled on the final layout and feel.

 

What advice would you give to your younger self?

Have a go at something, don’t worry about what other people think. You will never reach your full potential if you listen to people who say it can’t be done.

 

Is the character Elly Rose based on a real person?

Loosely off my niece Azalea who has wild red hair and wants to travel the world one day. The artwork for the character was created by a US artist Rebecca McMeen. I was searching for a redheaded girl and came across her. I approached Rebecca and purchased the commercial rights to use her. I change her dresses and the things in her hair for each page.

 

 

What do you like to do when you are not writing?

I love to travel to unusual and varied places and take photographs. I love exploring different angles, textures and lines. Sometimes I think I should have studied photography.

 

The title suggests there will be more than one adventure for Elly Rose. Where will she travel to next?

Elly Rose has been invited to the Maranaoa district to do a country lifestyle, which will make great illustrations. I would love for Elly Rose to travel to many different places around Australia. Anywhere that has interesting places to photograph, which in turn will make beautiful illustrations. I am open to suggestions form the readers. I also have quite a few overseas destinations in mind.

 

 

How big a part does social media have in marketing your book?

Since many of the book shops are now closing, I think Social Media will take over and become very important in this series. She has a blog where she travels virtually and my hope is children will become mini ambassadors for where they live and send me images and 5 reasons why she should visit. I can then drop her into a photo and share on the blog page.

 

How can people “Follow” Elly Rose.

Facebook- The Elly Rose Adventures

Website- www.ellyrosetownsville.com.au (follow the blog attached)

 

What other marketing strategies have you used to promote your book?

An exhibition of the illustrations at the Thuringowa Library was very successful and I sold several limited edition prints. The prints are 100 of each illustration, signed and numbered with certificates of authenticity. I will be developing an education pack for schools and day-care centres.

 

What merchandising if any will you have?

Books for two different age groups $19.95 each or one of each for $30

Postcards of the illustrations $4

Limited edition prints on watercolour paper from $35

 

How can people purchase “The Elly Rose Adventures”?

From the website or by emailing me at ellyrose@gmail.com I still looking for stockists to stock the book. I can’t offer the full retail mark-up as I want to keep the price under $20 and to print small quantities is quite expensive.  I will be doing a market stall soon and will advertise on facebook where and when. I am in negotiation with a couple of cafes to stock the book at the moment.

 

How are the illustrations done?

I start with my own photo and digitally manipulate it in Photoshop with many layers, slowly adding and texture and depth to each piece. Some images have over 30 layers and take over two months to get just right.

 

Thank you so much for your time.