She also loves hermit crabs and has a backyard full of chooks, so it’s easy to see where she got her inspiration for Bad Crab and The Book Chook. Both books have performed brilliantly in 2020, with Bad Crab being released in France (with the title Gare au Crabe) and Book Chook shortlisted for the Speech Pathology Australia Book of the Year Award AND deemed a CBCA Notable Book.
Amelia McInerney also draws inspiration from the happenings outside her window, where she sits to dream up even more fun ideas for future picture books.
Where do your ideas come from?
I imagine a character (usually a child or an animal) and often a story idea will come from one little thing about them that is funny.
When I have my character, I start by thinking about who they might be talking to. This person or animal then becomes my secondary character.
Then I imagine what my character might want, which leads me to think about what problems my character could have, given their personality or the situation they’re in.
What tips do you have for students who just don’t know what to write when they’re faced with a blank page?
I think reading lots of books is the perfect way to get inspiration. A great book makes me want to write a story that someone else likes as much as I enjoyed that story.
Maybe you could write the same type of story as one you’ve read, but in your own way, with your own plot. You might find your characters will take on their own personalities once you get going.
Or you could think of your favourite TV show. If you want to write something funny, maybe you could try to use some of the same type of humour. If you want something lifelike, you could incorporate the same types of emotions or big drama.
Of your books you’ve written, or are writing, is there a particular one that holds a special place in your heart?
All of them!
The Book Chook was my first book, so that was extra exciting.
Authors spend so much time editing their stories that by the time they are done, we usually feel very close to them.
You’re only allowed to pick one — which of your characters is your favourite and why?
Well, Bad Crab is pretty cute, and does learn to behave better. This makes Bad Crab likeable — though certainly not perfect!
But I think Ray the book chook might be my favourite. It’s so funny how he talks so much and panics when he discovers he’s not actually a real chicken. All he wants is to get out of the book.
I think I might be more like his friend, Janine, though.
What do you want children to gain from reading your books?
Mainly, I hope kids really enjoy reading my books, and that they smile or laugh.
A good book can feel like your friend!
Also, most of my stories rhyme because I love it so much – it’s like music. So I hope people enjoy reading and hearing rhyme.
Do you have any other books coming out?
Yes! I have a few more funny picture books on the way – keep an eye out during 2021. They’re all rhyming stories but have different rhyme schemes. They’re so much fun to read out loud!
The next one is coming out on February 1, 2021. It’s called My Bird, Bertie.
There’s certainly lots of exciting stuff coming up for Amelia McInerney, one of which is her upcoming move to live in Canberra! (Brilliant news for schools who are looking for author visits.) I can’t wait to see what she comes up with next.
You can find out more about Amelia McInerney and her books through her website or her Facebook author page. If you’d like to learn how to write stories about animals, just like Amelia does, check out her short YouTube clip about anthropomorphism.
Authors are always attending workshops, to listen to and learn from other authors – and there’s no reason why children can’t do the same. Inviting an author to visit your school and talk about what they do and the tricks they have for getting new ideas is a great way to inspire a passion for writing. Start this journey by checking out all of the local authors, illustrators and storytellers featured through Just Right Words and tap into their ideas and words of wisdom they’ve so generously shared.