Today it is my pleasure to introduce you to Penny Macoun and her delightful new picture book Gorkle. This interview is part of a Books on Tour promotion.
Have you ever sent a text message that has taken hours or even days to arrive, or never turned up at all? Gorkle is an imaginative and fun picture book that explains just what might happen to those text messages that go missing in cyberspace.
About Penny Macoun
Penny Macoun was born in Sydney, Australia, and has been writing since when her story about a funnel web spider was printed in a school newsletter. Ever since, Penny has loved the ‘other worlds’ that words create, and hopes to continue to create these worlds for many years to come. Gorkle is her first book. When she is not writing or editing, Penny dabbles in various forms of visual arts and enjoys being in the garden.
Gorkle is a gremlin who lives in cyberspace. He doesn’t like where he lives, it’s a miserable place because there are no bright colours anywhere. He likes the look of Earth. He really likes the brightly coloured text messages that humans send to each other, which he tries to keep.
One day, Gorkle is visited by two humans from Earth who are looking for the text messages that Gorkle has been keeping.
What will happen when they all meet?
What I like about this book
Gorkle is an imaginative picture book about text messages lost in cyberspace. It introduces young children to the idea of cyberspace in a fun way. It includes themes of diversity, acceptance, uniqueness, getting along, and taking only what belongs to you. I think young children will enjoy the colourful book and its adventurous story.
Welcome to readilearn, Penny. I am delighted to have this opportunity of speaking with you about your picture book Gorkle.
Thank you for having me.
What gave you the idea for writing Gorkle?
I was texting a friend and I accidentally sent a message with a letter instead of his name. I immediately sent a correct message with his name, to be polite. He received the second, correct text message straight away but received the incorrect message about two hours later. I suggested that there was a gremlin out there and that was what gave me the idea for Gorkle.
Why did you feel it was important for you to write Gorkle?
I didn’t feel it was important to write as such, it was just a fun story that I wanted to write. Once I had written it, I felt it was a good story to turn into a picture book.
What is the most important message you would like children to learn from Gorkle?
To be safe when using technology.
How would you like teachers and parents to introduce and discuss Gorkle with children?
As a teacher myself, I understand the value of using books to educate children. It’s great when they are learning and don’t even realise it. Initially Gorkle was written as a fun story with fun pictures in mind, but as I worked on it, I quickly saw its benefit in an educational setting. I have linked Gorkle to the stage 1 curriculum, particularly focusing on the safe use of technology, interacting responsibly and respectfully with others and creating friendships.
Are you planning to write any other stories about Gorkle?
Actually, yes, I am. I definitely thought this was a one-off story, but I have been working on a few ideas for future Gorkle books.
Do you like the way Anam Akram has illustrated your story?
Anam did an amazing job. I gave her illustration ideas for each page that were very specific and some more open ideas. She was able to capture what I wanted wonderfully.
Which is your favourite illustration?
My favourite illustration is on page 7, where Gorkle is touching the satellite and the brightly coloured text messages fly up from Earth. He looks so excited with sparkling eyes. It is also a lovely bright page with Earth, the satellites and the text messages standing out on the red background.
When did you know you wanted to be a writer?
I knew I wanted to be a writer when I was in year 8 in high school. I had always loved writing but was not a very good speller, so I never liked to show my work to anyone. I wrote a story about a funnel-web spider and my English teacher suggested I submit it to print in the school newsletter. I wasn’t sure and waited a few weeks before deciding to submit it. I was glad I did because the response was encouraging, and it set me on the path of being a writer.
Where do you write? Do you like to be by yourself in the quiet, or do you like to write in a noisy space?
I have my study desk in front of a large window that looks out onto the back garden. I like to always look out rather than facing a wall. I usually work on a computer but often begin jotting down ideas on paper with a pen. I have in the past enjoyed writing in a café, but then I always ask someone to type what I have written. I can’t work in complete silence, there always has to be some noise somewhere, even the hum of a fridge is enough, but it can’t be too noisy, just enough so I can tune the noise out if I need to.
Do you have any advice for children as writers?
Give it a go. Don’t worry about spelling or grammar, you will learn that as you go. Just begin writing your ideas and have heaps of fun with what you create.
Do you have any advice for teachers in their role as writing guides?
Even if you aren’t confident teaching an aspect of writing, don’t let the class see it. Show that you are having fun creating with them.
What is your favourite picture book?
I have always liked Possum Magic. I still have the hardback copy I got when I was 5 as a gift. It is so uniquely Australian with gorgeous illustrations, with a touch of fantasy thrown in.
Who is your favourite author? What do you like about his or her work?
I don’t really have a favourite author. I like to read mystery and historical fiction novels. I also loved the Harry Potter series. Growing up I loved reading Roald Dahl.
Thank you for sharing with us the story behind the story of Gorkle and your writing process, Penny. It has been lovely to hear about what inspires your process.
Find out more about Penny Macoun
On her website: http://www.pennymacoun.com.au
On Goodreads: Penny Macoun
Or connect with her on social media
Facebook: Penny Macoun Author
LinkedIn: Penny Macoun
For information on where you can purchase Gorkle,
Visit Penny’s website.
To find out more about Penny and her book, check out these other posts in the Books on Tour promotion.
This interview is now available free, in a ready-to-print format, in Literacy Resources Author Spotlight Author Spotlight – Penny Macoun, along with interviews with other authors. The information may be displayed in your classroom or included in a class book about authors and illustrators.
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