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  • Debra Palmen

Yes, you know a Media Megastar


Guess what happened this week? No, go on – guess.

I’ll wait.

Still waiting …..

Oh alright, this is what happened this week: my Media Megastar career has commenced. Stand back, stand back, there will plenty of time for you to all genuflect before me. That’s right, you’re not worthy.

ABC Radio rang to ask if they could briefly interview me next Sunday (24 March) for a show on the ABC Listen app. So okay you will only be able to hear my dulcet tones for maybe five minutes at around 4pm, and only via an app on your phone or computer. So okay it’s not exactly Media Megastar status yet. But it’s a start.

They want to talk about my book, and they want to quiz me about vintage tins. It turns out I have a rather a nice collection of vintage tins, so I feel comfortable with that. Mine are lovely but not expensive, as you can see by the few I'm showing here.

But I’ve always said that things don’t have to be expensive to be beautiful, and they don’t have to be perfect to be beautiful, and I’ll stand by that position on-air. I’ve never been in a radio studio before, so that should be interesting. More on that after it’s happened.

But in conjunction with this interview, if you haven’t yet bought my book Travel & Shop the World for Free it’s your lucky day because I have reduced the price to $22, and that includes postage to anywhere in Australia. That’s down from $34. It’s my first ever Sale on the website. As I build the website everything I feature will be as economical as I can make it, so you can afford to buy online from me as easily as in person.

Meanwhile, also on the book front: I plan to have Vol 1 of Little Beasties & How to Collect Them published hopefully by May. I was rethinking that title, but enough intelligent people have told me they know what Little Beasties are (it's another term for animals), so I've decided to keep it. I’ve selected most of the illustrations, and I’m really pleased with how it's shaping up. Now it’s head down and editing pen out, and then I’ll need to brief the cover designer. I have an idea about what I want for the cover, so we’ll see what a professional designer thinks about my non-artist suggestions.

On the topic of being a non-artist, I really like the Papyrus type-font. You can find it on most computers that create Word documents. I like this font so much that Calypso was seriously considering it as the cover font for her books. But that was until Anticia (the books' illustrator) pointed out a bunch of websites created just so people can showcase their undying hatred of Papyrus font. Yes, some people have way too much time on their hands. Apparently, it’s a thing in the design community to hate Papyrus font and Comic Sans font, and anyone who does like them (the rest of us) is deemed “uneducated and artistically stunted”.

But even though I’m uneducated and artistically stunted, somehow I'm labouring on. Book 1 of Calypso’s series A Cat’s Tale (Sink or Swim) is now into final colour draft stage. It’s taken a long time, as I get used to providing sufficiently good briefs for the illustrator, and she gets her head around my sometimes-peculiar instructions.

But I think we’re on the same wavelength now, and I really hope Book 2 (That was Zen, this is Meow) progresses somewhat faster than this book. Anticia assures me this will happen now that we understand each other.

Here’s one of the colour drafts for the back and front cover of Sink or Swim. In the final version all of Calypso’s markings will be incorporated (so you’ll see her spotted belly), and naturally there will be a blurb on the back about the story and the authors. But here’s the work-in-progress.

Sink or Swim is a gentle introduction to Calypso and her girl Tallulah. It’s set in Paris and Vietnam in the 1920s/30s. It’s about how Calypso helps Tallulah overcome her fear of the water so she can learn to swim. And then hold a fabulous party on her luxury yacht. As you do. Throughout the series Calypso helps Tallulah to be strong and fierce and independent, which was as relevant for young women almost 100 years ago as it is today. After Book 1 things will get a little more weird, as you'll see.

And by-the-way, Calypso knows that Vietnam only started being called that officially in 1945, because she’s an educated cat. But it was referred to as Vietnam unofficially before then, so she's going with that rather than Annam or French Indo-China. Because she is. Talk to the paw if you’re a famous historian who objects to such an intellectual travesty.

Finally, here’s a few of the fishes Anticia has created from my briefs for some of the ocean scenes. Isn’t she good? Yes, that one with wings is a flying fish. I know flying fish aren’t so fabulously coloured in real life, but I told Anticia we don’t have to be bound by reality with these fishes. Hey, the book is being written by a cat so how realistic does the rest need to be?

Meanwhile, if you have to chance to hear my interview on the ABC Radio Listen app on Sunday 24 March, sometime around 4pm(ish), let me know how I went. Be honest! But not too honest.


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