Jessica Dean and Marc Eiden are the creative duo behind the children’s book Gertrude, which is currently on sale at the Colour Box Studio’s Summer Pop Up Shop until the 21st of December.
Gertrude is a 100% Melbourne production from the writing, artwork, typography, design to the printing. This beautiful book is about a little sparrow called Gertrude, who sets off on a perilous journey in search of the things that matter most: family, friends and a place where you truly belong.
Jessica Dean will be hanging out at the Colour Box Studio stall as part of the Nicholson Street South Pop Up Market on Thursday the 12th of December. Make sure you come on down to say hello and, if you’re lucky, grab yourself a signed copy of Gertrude. We spoke to Jessica about the book, her involvement with the Nicholson Street South Pop Up Market and her hot tips for good writing.
What inspired you to publish a children’s book?
I have always loved children’s books, not just for their stories but their artwork. I wanted to write a longer form children’s story that was also full of great artwork and that was the inspiration.
Who inspired the character Gertrude?
She’s inspired by a few good souls I’ve met along the way.
What is your writing process? Do you always write as a duo?
Writing is usually a solitary pursuit and that was the case with Gertrude. Marc and I have written other work together, but for this project we worked on the artwork together more than the story.
Why was it important for you to produce the entire book locally?
I liked the idea of collaborating with other local creatives and businesses, and in terms of printing, it kept the carbon footprint as small as possible.
What was the publishing process like? Do you have any advice for others looking to self publish?
Gertrude was a very collaborative project and I was lucky to work with some fantastic and talented folk. I learned so many things working on Gertrude. It’s probably a bit trite, but in a weird way the lessons learned were a bit like the story itself: don’t give up, try your best, collaborate with good people and just go for it.
There were a few teething problems along the way, like there are with any project, but I think the end result speaks for itself.
As far as advice goes, I’d say: be respectful of your collaborators, particularly if people are giving their time and talent for free; be passionate about your project and people will want to get involved; listen to the advice of those you respect; be clear about what you want to achieve; do your research to find the right suppliers who will get excited about your project and will come on the ride with you. And save your pennies if you are self publishing.
To you, what are the most important elements of good writing?
A vivid imagination; honesty and fearlessness; tight, economic sentences that read like a dream and zing off the page; story that pulls you in and doesn’t let go; and as prosaic as this sounds, correct spelling and grammar.
What is the message in your book? What are your readers’ reactions to it?
I don’t like to be too prescriptive about messages. Hopefully people connect with the story and take from it the message that most resonates with them. Readers have reacted really well to Gertrude. It has been an absolute delight hearing from young and older readers who’ve enjoyed Gertrude.
Did you learn anything from writing your book and what was it?
A good edit is a beautiful thing.
What is your involvement in the Nicholson South Pop Up Market?
The fantastic folk at Colour Box Studio invited me to get involved with the Nicholson South Pop Up Market and I will be selling Gertrude there. I think it’s going to be a great evening – come on down everyone!
Why should people come along and what can they expect to see?
I really hope there’s a great turn out. The market will show case some fantastic local makers and designers, yummy food and good music. It’s the perfect place to pop down to do your Christmas shop and support your local creative community.
Are you currently working on any other projects?
Yes, I’m putting the final touches on album artwork for local electro outfit, Nonagon, which I’m really excited about and am at the embryonic stages of another children’s book.
Jessica Dean will be hanging out at the Colour Box Studio stall as part of the Nicholson Street South Pop Up Market on Thursday the 12th of December.