AUTHOR/ILLUSTRATOR INTERVIEW: Peter Carnavas

AUTHOR/ILLUSTRATOR INTERVIEW: Peter Carnavas

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The lovely, talented Peter Carnavas was one of the very first creative I met on the Sunshine Coast, and he really helped give me some confidence to move ahead with my author goals. (Poor Pete - he is one of my all-time fave picture book author/illustrators, so I was totally fangirling when I met him!)

Today, I’m thrilled to welcome Pete to my blog to chat about his latest picture book, A Quiet Girl, that he both authored and illustrated. Published by UQP this year, the meaningful story captures the importance of celebrating the quieter people in our lives. As an introvert, I really connected with this story, and can see why so many other people, children and adults alike, are loving it too.

Let’s find out more…

Welcome, Pete. Can you tell us a bit about your book, and the themes/issues it explore?

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A Quiet Girl is about Mary, a quiet girl in a noisy family. They make so much noise (just like any family - lawnmower, blender, hairdryer) that they hardly notice Mary is there, and they never hear what she has to say. So one day, Mary shows them what they’ve been missing, and how wonderful quietness can be.

What was the inspiration behind writing/illustrating this particular story, and did it change much as you were writing it?

I’ve always been told to speak up, especially as a kid, but also as an adult. I know it’s true, but I’ve had a sense that the rest of the world could afford to quieten down a bit. A few years ago, I read Quiet by Susan Cain, which explores the power of quiet people in a noisy world, and the strengths of introverts. It really appealed to me, and inspired me to write this book, A Quiet Girl.

The motivation of Mary changed a little throughout the process. In the end, it was important that she didn’t save the day with any quiet superpowers, she didn’t have to justify why she was quiet, she just gently opens others to wonderful things we notice when we are quiet.

How do you hope readers will connect with the book, and/or what do you want them to take away from it?

I just want them to be quiet(er), I guess. And I especially would love families or schools to recognise that they might have a quiet person sitting amongst them that might need to be heard a little more. And the best way to listen to somebody is to be quiet. But really, I’m not trying to change the world - I just hope people like it as a sweet story to share.

Do you have a favourite children’s book that you can never get enough of? What about a favourite book character?

Yes, I have many, but it’s hard to go past Roald Dahl’s Matilda. She somehow has a beautiful childish innocence while being wise, intelligent and a little bit cunning. It’s also amazing how Quentin Blake manages to capture all of this with just a few squiggles and dots.

Biggest challenges in writing/illustrating this story, or in getting it published?

Well, this was supposed to be the book I illustrated with my left hand. I enjoyed it for a while but it was just too hard to pull the whole thing off. So I turned back to ol’ faithful Righty.

Do you have any suggestions on ways parents, teachers, librarians, booksellers and readers can get more out of the book?

The lovely person who wrote the teacher notes has done a wonderful job, and you can find them on UQP’s website.

Can you let us in on any sneak peeks into your next books or other projects?

Um, I’m not sure if I’m allowed. I’ve finished illustrating a book for Penguin Random House, and I’ve also just finished illustrating the last book in Damon Young’s series, which is called My Dad is a… sorry, can’t tell you. Both will be out in August 2019.

Can you tell us something not a lot of people know about you?

I was in a thrash metal band in Grade 11 called Corrosion. Long hair, converse sneakers, dark lyrics. I was one of the guitarists. We played about one and a half gigs.

Where do you do your writing, and do you have any particular rituals in your creative process?

I work in my little studio at the top of our back yard at home. All I need is music playing, a cup of tea and my dog sleeping beside me.

What about a favourite word or quote?

I stuck this up on my bedroom wall when I was about twenty, and it’s on the wall in front of my desk today:

“People are idiots not to write poems or try to paint pictures or to dance or to write a piece of music just because they can’t make a living out of it. Practising the arts is not a way to make a living. It’s a way to make your soul grow.” - Kurt Vonnegut

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