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Justine Lawson

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Justine Lawson

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Genres: Author-illustrator of children's picture books
Member Bio

Justine wrote and illustrated her first picture books for Children’s Book Week when she was in primary school, and she’s been writing and drawing ever since. Justine lives in Brisbane near a lovely creek where you will often find her communing with nature. Justine’s picture books express her keen observation of life and her delight in understanding who and what and where and when and how and why! While her creative interests stretch far and wide, melding words and pictures into a story has Justine captivated.

Questions with Justine

How long have you been writing?
I’ve always written, in one form or other, but two courses with the Children’s Book Academy in 2015 took my writing and illustrating to another level, and showed me what might be possible.

What writing resources (online, books or other) do you recommend?
I tell everyone who reveals the slightest “I wish I could draw” feeling about a book, “Drawing on the Artist Within” by Betty Edwards. Betty Edwards believes drawing is a skill that can be learnt, just like reading or riding a bike. Her book also delves into how to tap into your creativity. The other thing I love to share are videos of Ira Glass on storytelling. He talks about people getting into storytelling because they have taste. This taste also tells them that their early work is not much good! There’s a gap between what you can make and what you want to make. So, what do you do? Here’s a 2minute video with the essence of Ira’s talk, by Daniel Sax:
And the full version:

How do you extend on your writing & illustrating skills?
* Write Links people are friendly and inspiring, the professional development sessions are always interesting, and connecting with people to share and critique work all helps.
* I’m also in an online group of four writers and we set challenges and critique each other’s work.
* Videos and free courses online.
* Really studying picture books that I like, and those I don’t, to figure out how the magic was done.
* The Craft and Business of Writing Children’s Picture Books, and the matching illustration course with the Children’s Book Academy helped enormously.

Best time of day to write or draw?
No particular time of day is best. The most helpful thing for my writing and drawing is working in little steps, steps “too small to fail”.

Was there a book from your childhood that had a big influence on you?
Yes! Anne of Green Gables and other books by L.M. Montgomery. When I was in grade seven I was interviewed on TV and I couldn’t say L.M. Montgomery was my favourite author because I’d only ever read her name and didn’t know how to pronounce it! I’m correcting the record today!

What are your writing goals?
I want to make books for kids that intrigue, inspire and bring comfort.

Any other projects you are working on:
While picture books are my ongoing focus, I always have other creative projects underway, such as designing and sewing, knitting and knotting, and I’m working on designs for using a CNC router to make furniture.

Have you got any inspirational writing quotes you would like to share?
“Don’t get it right, get it written.” I think I first heard Thomas Keneally say this.

1942 Amsterdam Ave NY (212) 862-3680

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