Wednesday, June 2, 2010

J.R Poulter

J.R. Poulter is a prolific writer and my guest today. Welcome, Jennifer. Please give us a brief bio.
Trained as a reference librarian, I have worked in a variety of positions from a rare books librarian to book reviewer, from English Expression tutor and academic editor assisting Indonesian postgraduates, to assessment package writer for the Queensland Education Department, from children’s magazine literary editor to working in a circus! I wrote plays before writing poetry and later I wrote stories. I have been published as a literary poet in leading journals in Australia as well as the USA [e.g., Quadrant and Antipodes] under J.R.McRae. I was first published as a poet when still at school. I started writing for children when totally sleep deprived with my youngest, twins. I have 10 books out here, so far, as J.R.Poulter – 6 volume series for education, two picture books and two junior novels. I am married with five children, two full time cats, a part time cat, geckos, water dragons, possums and lots of wild birds from the large park nearby.

What books came along at just the right time to influence your reading/writing?
I have always been an avid reader. My Grandmother had a wonderful collection of books called ‘Lands and People’ and a children’s version of the stories of the Shakespearean plays. My Aunt Mary had amazing books on Egyptology and on famous artists like Rubens, the Pre-Raphaelites, the Impressionists, Kandinsky and others. My Father and maternal Grandfather used to recite the poems of Lewis Carroll and Henry Lawson, Mrs Hemans and Banjo Patterson. I think the end result was manifold. I love the sound and shape of words, the music locked in language, how you can bend and blend them to say new things new ways. I love combining words and images [am teaching myself illustrative art], have been called a highly visual writer and have a Carrollesque sense of humor.

What are your writing goals?
To have books published around the world – stories and narrative poems that children will love - stories that will engage them and make them want to read, poems that will imbue in them a love for poetry and the rhythms of language, books with images by the amazing illustrators with whom I have been very fortunate and honored to collaborate. I want very much to publish a book of literary poetry as well, possible with my own illustrations.

Is there a message in your writing you want readers to grasp?
The love of reading! Reading is the key that opens many, many doors - books do not just entertain, they also inform, instruct, guide and illumine. These days, children and young people are much more visually oriented so I believe that images accompanying the text of books of prose and poetry for children, young adults and even adults are important in helping to convey meaning and messages.

Briefly tell us about your latest book.
Can I give you two – each in different media?

Hard copy -

Mending Lucille, which deals with loss and grief, will hopefully be released in the US later this year. It won the Crichton, a major award out here, was listed in the top ten children’s/young Adult books in New Zealand, and was nominated for the Family Therapists’ Award,

Digital media –

“Toofs” has just been accepted for publication on iphone with PicPocket Books. It will be released in mid to late August and was co-written by my daughter Estelle Poulter and illustrated by Monica Rondino and Andrea Pucci of Italy. This is a first venture into the digital publishing arena for all four of us!

What’s the hook for the book(s)?
Hard copy -

Loss and resulting grief happen in all our lives but for a small child it can be harder to communicate the heart ache and sense of loss. The central character, a little girl, is helped to reach out for help on her road to recovery via a kindly woman who mends the child’s broken doll.
Digital media –

Did you know the Big Bad Wolf had teething problems? He did when he was a baby and oh what problems he caused for his big brother! This is a humorous look at the problems caused in a family by one baby's teething driven need to chew and BITE! The text has been co-written by Estelle who is a childcare professional and features the methods used in childcare to overcome the problem for other siblings and playmates.

Do you think your writing has improved since your first attempt? In what way?
Yes, I hope so – practice makes perfect! J Always be prepared to learn and be prepared to listen to constructive criticism. You aren’t perfect so don’t expect your writing to be that way first off. Put distance between yourself and your writing before a final edit. It helps you be more objective. It is not easy to tear your own child limb from limb and that is what a writer’s creations are to them!

Were any of your books more challenging to write than the others? If so, why?
The series of six books for education was the most challenging. The book was submitted originally as one volume, accepted and contracted. Then a new curriculum came out in draft form in one Australian state and the publisher decided they wanted the book to comply. No one outside of the higher echelons at the Education Department had a copy. This was a challenge. Sleuth work required. I did it whilst in hospital with a copy of the draft smuggled to me by a contact in the department. The rewritten ms was submitted. The company then went to the brink of bankruptcy and dropped their education titles. I found a new publisher. They decided they wanted to split the book into an anthology and four subject grouped collections –more work. They also wanted a sixth volume of humorous poetry.

How do you develop characters? Setting?
I’m a right brain writer. I get a phrase or image etc and just go for it! The story creates itself as it writes.

What are your protagonist’s strengths? Flaws?
It varies. Some are not so much protagonists as people on a journey of discovery about others in their lives, the world, and perhaps most importantly, themselves.

How do you determine voice in your writing?
Whatever fits that particular story. It happens spontaneously. Sometimes it is first person, sometimes third and so on.

How does your environment/upbringing color your writing?
I think the challenges, sorrows, traumas we all face in life shape us and help us grow. You write best, I believe, about what you know from experience or close observation.

How do you promote yourself online and off?
I’m learning – I’m not a natural self-promoter. I prefer to just write and draw so this doesn’t come naturally. I’m trying to get my head around FaceBook and Twitter and LinkedIn and JacketFlap and blogging – trouble is, when do you find time to write with all this stuff!

Where do you write? When? What do you have around you?
Anywhere! Any time! J Paper and pencil or biro at all times – never be without them!
Lots of books, computer, dictionary, images, photos piles of papers etc.

After hours of writing, how do you unwind?
Word games, drawing or photography, writing humorous verse that plays with words.

What are your current projects?
“Toofs” is coming out on iphone with PicPocket Books in mid to late August. It was co-written by my daughter Estelle Poulter and illustrated with humour and a real feel for this family’s not so funny dilemma by Monica Rondino and Andrea Pucci of Italy. This is my first venture into the digital publishing arena and I am truly excited about it.
Other projects include picture books with Angel Dominguez [Spain], Mary Manning [USA], novels [including “Cats’ Eyes” and “The Quizmaster”], a collection of literary poetry [“Blood and Other Essentials”], a collection of stories for children with Shahab Shamshirsaz [Italy] and two collections of humorous verse for children with Mattias Adolfsson [Sweden]. “Fox Shadows” will be published by Windy Hollows Books in 2011.

Where can folks learn more about your books and events?
Watch - mid to late August “TOOFS!” will be released on iphone. for children’s writing and
for literary material and poetry
and blogs at and

Jennifer, continued success. For more information about all of Jennifer's books, see the sites listed.


Anonymous said...

Lovely interview, ladies. Thanks for sharing. Must admit, I was running to keep up with you, Jennifer. You have so much on the go! Your digital PB looks gorgeous and sounds great. I love a family project! And there's more...

Keep up the fantabulous work - but don't forget to breathe. :)

Anonymous said...

Thanks Kat! Yep, still breathing last time I checked! :)
Folk might like to know that Kat is Twitter Chatting with QC CEO Kate Eltham on e-book publishing at 11.30am Australian time [USA 6.30pm] - Picture Books Only - link up with Kat at @KatApel

Thank you again, Susan, for this opportunity!

Jason Ferguson said...

A great read!
Congratulations Jennifer!

Looking forward to reading your ebooks on me iphone!

All the best!

Thanks Jennifer, and Susan.