Welcome to the blog of the Tasmanian branch of the Children's Book Council of Australia!

Saturday, 6 July 2019

Working in collaboration


Tasmanian author and illustrator team, Tahnee McShane and Mary-Ann Orchard, share their creative collaborations to bring Annabel and Turtle to life.

Our process in creating Annabel and Turtle was an unusual one; we were both new to publishing a children’s book and we learnt a lot of new things along the way. We knew each other prior to making the book together, and were aware of each other’s talents and our joint passion for working with children. During our initial discussion things gelled and we were excited to get started. We met (almost) monthly in early 2018, at our favourite local cafĂ©, The Wooden Spoon, in Oatlands, perfecting our art.

Author’s recollection
After wanting to write children's fiction for so long, Annabel and Turtle is finally here. The story evolved from one I used to tell my children at night to a persistent idea that would not me alone. Driving in the car one afternoon (where I often have my best thinking time) I was struck with the inspiration to seek out Mary-Ann to help bring my words to life on the page, and the project took off at an almighty pace soon after.

What came next was a creative and collaborative process, in which Mary-Ann and I built on each other’s knowledge and ideas. Mary-Ann regularly sent me pictures of her sketches. It was an incredible feeling to see my stories come to life visually in a way that I never could have imagined.

Illustrator’s recollection
Working with Tahnee’s words has been an enjoyable challenge. She had a clear idea on how Annabel should look, which was extremely helpful when it came to creating her. Apart from Annabel, I was given free rein to create. Tahnee was very encouraging during my experimentation period. After I had the characters and the treehouse created, it was time to experiment with colour. Tahnee got to see how water-colour, pencil and acrylic looked, before we settled on pencil, which strongly reflects the soft nature of the text. A pencil is usually a child’s first encounter with creating colour and I felt this would be familiar to the little readers of this book.

Knowing Tahnee was working hard behind the scenes on the promotional and business side of publishing was comforting. Annabel and Turtle have their own website, Facebook page and Tahnee’s whole family have embraced these characters with their entertaining podcasts.

Tahnee and Mary-Ann are looking forward to collaborating further with more tales from Annabel and Turtle in the near future.

About the author: Tahnee McShane is a Tasmanian author, teacher and podcaster. Tahnee began her career as a violinist and music teacher, before becoming a farmer’s wife, mother, qualified teacher and business manager for her family farm. Tahnee has a master’s in teaching and degrees in English, Journalism and Music. Annabel and Turtle is her first book.

About the Illustrator: Mary-Ann Orchard is an award-winning artist and illustrator living in the midlands of Tasmania. Mary-Ann’s art often features animals with curious and interesting personalities that bounce off the canvas. Annabel and Turtle is her first illustrating venture. Mary-Ann also works as a Pastoral Care Worker, where she provides moral support, mentorship and enriches children’s broader educational outcomes.


Annabel and Turtle
Format: Hardcover
ISBN: 9780646993362
Publisher: 40 South/Tahnee McShane (Tasmania)
RRP: $24.95
Publication Date: June 2019
annabelandturtle.com/@annabelandturtle (Instagram|Facebook|Spotify|itunes)

Editor's note: Tahnee's podcasting and musical skills are evident in her podcasts telling of the adventures of this duo. Why not listen to the Introduction to Annabel and Turtle for starters?

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