Pat Simmons - Just Right Words

Pat Simmons

Minibeasts and more ...

Author, Pat Simmons with illustrator, Katrin Dreiling who also loves minibeasts.
Pat Simmons with Katrin Dreiling who has illustrated two of Pat’s books, ‘George’ and ‘Cicada Sing Song’

Minibeasts, cats and all sorts of critters – author Pat Simmons loves them all! Just check out her list of picture books if you don’t believe me … Ziggy’s Zoo, Little Spiral (a snail), George (a dog), Gargoyle’s Garden, The Cat Thief and her most recent book, Cicada Sing Song (a glorious celebration of sound written in haiku and rap) … all featuring animals.

Pat worked for many years with children and young people in daycare, museums and TAFE and now devotes all her time to writing – poetry, short stories, flash fiction and, of course, picture books.

While it’s pretty clear what inspires Pat Simmons to write – minibeasts and the antics of other critters – there is always something to learn from an author’s experiences and thoughts, no matter where you are on your writing journey.

Cover of The Cat Thief
‘The Cat Thief’ is based on Pat Simmons’ childhood memory
What are your tips for students, or adults, whose minds go blank when they’re asked to write?

Think about other stories you’ve read and loved. Which ones made you sad or happy? Think about your memories. Let your thoughts wander. You’ll be surprised where they take you.

Which of your books holds a special place in your heart? Why?

The Cat Thief. I attended a writing workshop run by Tristan Bancks. He asked us to spend ten minutes writing down childhood memories. One of mine was that I used to steal cats when I was very young.

Tristan said, “Write the book.” So, I did.

Do you have a favourite character? Who is it and why?
Pat Simmons at a school visit with burrowing cockroaches
Pat loves minibeasts of all kinds – including burrowing cockroaches

Olive in The Cat Thief. She really wants a cat but her plan to steal one doesn’t work … does it sound familiar?

I also love Liz Duthie’s illustrations of this cheeky little girl.

When you think about children reading your books, how does this make you feel? What do you want people to gain from your books?

I feel extremely proud and have a sense of deep satisfaction that my books have been published and illustrated so beautifully. All I want people to gain is a love of words.

What do you love the most about being an author?

I love bringing stories to life. For me, picture book texts can often take years to perfect but I love the journey. To have a book published is the icing on the cake.

Cover of Cicada Sing Song
Do you have a quote from a favourite author that inspires you?

I do. I love the image it invokes.

Watch with glittering eyes the whole world around you because the greatest secrets are always hidden in the most unlikely places. Those who don’t believe in magic will never find it.

Roald Dahl

This quote certainly rings true when you read Pat Simmon’s most recent book, ‘Cicada Sing Song’. In amongst the rap and haiku, we find the magic of the minibeast world.

You can connect with Pat through her website, Facebook or on Instagram and find out more about her books and her life as a writer. Pat loves connecting with other writers, at every stage of the journey, so do pop over and say hello.

If you’re looking for more stories written in rhyme, check out Amelia McInerney‘s books or totally embrace everything poetic with something by Harry Laing.