Jacque DChildren’s author and illustrator Jacque Duffy chats to the AWM intern about how she wrote her book The Bear Said Please and some of the writing events that helped her stay on track.

Jacque Duffy has written and illustrated seven children’s books in a series. These books were placed into Queensland State schools and libraries. One book has been used by mental health groups as a counselling tool for children made homeless after numerous natural disasters in Australia and New Zealand. It has now been digitized by the Queensland Education Department for special needs children. Her picture book, The Bear Said Please published by Wombat books is used in the National Curriculum Grammar Strategies book in schools alongside books by Mem Fox, Jackie French, Jeannie Baker and Narelle Oliver. Jacque is an active member of various writing and illustrating organisations in Australia and Internationally. She is heavily involved in the literary and arts communities, attends and presents at conferences, festivals, television and radio interviews, and conducts workshops. Her artwork has won many major awards and is in galleries and private collections around the world.

How would you describe The Bear Said Please to someone at a party?

If it is a kid’s party I would describe The Bear Said Please as a story about a clever bear who lives in a house, drives a car, reads books, but forgets something important. He remembers what it is after he takes something without asking. If I was at an adult party I possibly would say the story is about travel, finding one’s greatest desire and claiming it.

Why was it fun to write about a bear with manners?

In truth I had fun writing the story because I was alone in a hotel room telling myself jokes (I’m funny) and the story came to me as I danced and rapped it out. But I do think we all forget to use our manners sometimes and need to be reminded.

What piece of advice do you wish you’d been given when you were starting out as a writer?

That’s tricky. I think, for me, a great piece of advice would have been ‘Trust in you immediate thoughts, have faith in your abilities and don’t self-doubt. Put your first thoughts on paper and then polish, polish, polish.’

What is the next book on your must read list?

The next book on my must read list could be anything. I have a must read library, pile and piles of books surround me at all times and I don’t always take from the top. I generally have four books on the go at the same time, one will always be about the craft of writing, one will be something literary and the others will be purely for my enjoyment.

The Bear Said Please

This year you’re participating in Start the Year Off Write, how has this helped your writing?

Start the Year Off Write started out OK but then I fell off the wagon. Life got in the way but that’s not necessarily a bad thing. I have been writing and keeping VERY busy in the book world. Challenges like Start the Year Off Write, PiBoIdMo, NanoWrimo, 12 x12, and Chapter Book Challenge, are all fantastic and they help to keep writers on track, inspired and enthusiastic. Sometimes (like this year) I have been productive without requiring friends (other participants become friends) checking in on me.

Georgia Lejeune is currently studying a Masters of Arts in Writing, Editing and Publishing at the University of Queensland, she previously obtained a Bachelor of Creative Industries majoring in Drama from the Queensland University of Technology. Georgia is a freelance writer/blogger, actor, and circus teacher who likes Jane Austen novels and dislikes ironing, sultanas, and writing in the third person.

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