Map illustration workshop — 19 June 2021

I’m giving a narrative map illustration workshop for the Queensland Writers Centre on 19 June 2021.

Pen drawings with bits of maps, clouds, compass roses. A sheep on a solitary island with "Map of the Last Lonely Island". A stag running down a beach with a label that leads to "Elsewhere".

It will be face to face at the Queensland Writers Centre in the Queensland State Library (Brisbane), but the event (and me bounding around drawing on boards and building small worlds, while pursued by the videographer) will also be live-streamed.

Birds-eye-view photo of paper and flowers and hands drawing on a table.
Photo courtesy of Where the Wild Things Are

Please note, it is an illustrative rather than a scientific cartography workshop! I am neither a cartographer nor a geographer — my maps are big pictures of the spaces where stories happen. BUT you do not have to be an illustrator or even able to draw particularly well to take this workshop — you just need to be willing to draw and break open a world. I will be teaching some drawing tricks, and mostly it’s about story.

MapAfter
Map detail from Holly Black’s The Wicked King

QWC sign-up links

Brisbane Writers Festival 2021

The Brisbane Writers Festival is back — and done for the year (it’s staying in May, now, and next year is the 60th anniversary). It was lovely to see people again, and sketch in the cafe, and listen to talks on history and life, poetry and family.

Of course, sketching in the SLQ cafe mostly means sketching ibises

I (with Flyaway, although I got in a tangential reference to Travelogues!) was on the “Magic and Myth” panel with Krissy Kneen (The Three Burials of Lotty Kneen) + Tabitha Bird (The Emporium of the Imagination) + Melissa Ashley (The Bee and the Orange Tree).

The Three Burials of Lotty KneenFlyawayThe Emporium of the ImaginationThe Bee and the Orange Tree

Krissy ran a great discussion on three very different books (a novel of murder trials and fairy tale salons in 1699 Paris; a tale of a magical store that arrives by night in a Queensland town and heals sorrow; an Australian Gothic story of secrets and things in the trees; and Krissy’s memoir of searching through Australia, Slovenia, and Egypt for the true history of her grandmother). But there were many common elements too — secrets and generations, loss and what we cling to instead, and stories told and believed in different ways.

I usually have difficulty remembering what happened on a panel, but many people said lovely things about it afterwards, and there were some excellent questions.

I do remember one question on how you judge the parameters of magic/myth when writing it into a ‘real-world’ story. We all had different answers, of course — the fairytales in Melissa’s novel were specifically contained and retold within a historical, non-fantastic setting; Tabitha followed a theme and let the elements grow; I talked about (a) developing an ear for certain types of stories, so you can hear when you strike a false note, and (b) letting the magical elements sit in the setting/story until they start to change each other — and following the consequences.

There was another question, too, on the purpose/use of myth and fairytale. Melissa was specifically dealing with the way fairytales were used to communicate and argue around the restrictions of a society and royal censorship. Tabitha was using them as a way to allow the processing of grief and loss, and the preservation of what is mourned. I spoke about their usefulness as a template, because I find it more organic to use a fairy tale as a structural key than to think about acts and arcs — that’s a matter of familiarity and ease. But I also got onto another favourite topic, about how there are points in time where people sort of agree on how certain stories are to be told (you see it when artists agree what the basic cat should look like, which makes medieval cat drawings look implausible, until you meet cats who look just like them). I find that having a sheaf of alternative templates (fairy tales, for me) lets me shake those ideas loose, and look at them in a different light. So, for example, people are starting to tell post-lockdown stories, and those are starting to converge. But you could pick any number of fairy tales and retell the story through that: “Rapunzel” is an obvious one, but “Little Red Riding Hood” would work just as well (the year that was eaten by a wolf), or even Cinderella — I had just broken new shoes in at the start of 2020, and now I’m having all sorts of problems wearing them again.

I did make it to a few other panels! A few standouts were the First and Last Word bookends, Ellen van Neerven‘s talks, “The World’s Biggest Survival Story” (Melissa LucashenkoBruce PascoeLisa Fuller and Thomas Mayor). And then of course so many wonderful conversations in the green room and the cafe, at signing tables and over drinks.

A particularly memorable panel I went to was “Out of the Wreckage”, in which Kelly Higgins-Devine interviewed Margaret Cook’s A River with a City Problem: A History of Brisbane Floods and Jamie Simmonds’ Rising from the Flood: Moving the Town of Grantham. I still have very vivid memories of the 2011 floods (as well as being cut off, I’d started at the Department of Transport and Main Roads just days before they happened, and since something like 95% of the state’s transport networks were affected by that year’s rains, it was a crash course in the department’s responsibilities!), and was tangentially involved with some of the Grantham relocation. It was a vivid and compelling discussion (and surprisingly entertaining), so I am looking forward to reading these two.

Brisbane Writers Festival

The Three Burials of Lotty Kneen; Flyaway; The Emporium of the Imagination; The Bee and the Orange Tree

I’m going to be on a panel this Saturday at the Brisbane Writers Festival!

WHEN? Sat 8 May 2021

WHERE? Auditorium 2, SLQ

ABOUT? “An enlightening discussion of how myth, magic and a good fairy-tale help us live in the real world by pointing out the fundamental truths of the human.”

WITH? Krissy Kneen (The Three Burials of Lotty Kneen) + Kathleen Jennings (Flyaway) + Tabitha Bird (The Emporium of the Imagination) + Melissa Ashley (The Bee and the Orange Tree)

BOOKINGS: https://bwf.org.au/2021/brisbane-writers-festival/magic-and-myth

Map illustration workshop — 19 June 2021

I’m giving a narrative map illustration workshop for the Queensland Writers Centre on 19 June 2021. It will be face to face at the Queensland Writers Centre in the Queensland State Library (Brisbane), but the event (and me bounding around drawing on boards and building small worlds, while pursued by the videographer) will also be live-streamed.

Please note, it is an illustrative rather than a scientific cartography workshop! But you do not have to be an illustrator or even able to draw particularly well to take it — you just need to be willing to draw and break open a world. I will be teaching some drawing tricks, and mostly it’s about story.

Face-to-face sign-up link

Livestreaming sign-up link

The tiniest things

8x8 very tiny drawing on a 0.5cm grid of flowers and fairy-tale motifs. The tip of a ball-point pen is visible.

Some extremely tiny process sketches, collecting my thoughts for the school workshops I taught last week at Words Out West.

These smallest drawings, just the faintest hint of thoughts, are very useful for collecting thoughts, and sorting through plans, ideas, and references it would take a long time to organise any other way. It’s therefore also a good way to condense large and nebulous ideas onto observation journal pages.

Several rows of very tiny drawings of fairy-tale motifs.
2 down, 6 across is a plumb line; I think the lower right is a… lion?

The workshops ended up being about drawing tiny things (although not this small!) and collecting favourite parts of stories (because most of my art workshops end up being about stories).

The drawings with the students were much larger than these, but I did show the classes these examples, to demonstrate how low the bar between informative and illegible is.

A ballpoint pen lying on a very tiny 6x6 grid of drawings of map elements
map components

The grid is the 0.5cm grid in a Moleskine notebook, and the pen is a Pilot BPS-GP Fine tip ballpoint.

This post began as a post on Patreon — if you’d like to support more tiny art, patrons there get behind-the-scenes process and sneak-peeks, starting from US$1, or you could buy me a (virtual) coffee at ko-fi.com/tanaudel (and I get through quite a bit of coffee).

KGB Readings

Shveta Thakrar and I will be reading at KGB Fantastic Fiction (online) this week! New York time it’s at 7pm on Wednesday 17 February. That’s 10am on Thursday in Brisbane, which is 11am Eastern Australian daylight time (e.g. Sydney and Melbourne.

It will be live-streamed on YouTube, you can read more about it on the KGB Fantastic Fiction site (including how to support the KGB Bar and the readings while everything is online).

Edit: The recording is now up on YouTube:

Capalaba Library — author talk

This Friday 11 December 2020, from 2-3pm, I am delighted to be giving an author talk at Capalaba Library.

It’s free, but it’s limited to 20 people. Tickets can be booked through the library: book here.

Books will be available.

Words Out West

I’m delighted to have been invited to be involved with Words Out West in Dalby and Chinchilla next year, 11-14 March 2021.

More details of my plans to come, but you can check out the speakers and events on the website.

Faster Forward interview

My interview with Mike Zipser on Faster Forward Live is up on YouTube, talking about art and Flyaway and all sorts of things — and while we were missing catching up in person, I think we got the chance to talk to each other with far fewer distractions than we would have at a convention!

A few upcoming events (all online):

Flyaway — Avid Reader launch video

The video of the Avid Reader launch of my Flyaway (from August) is now up on Avid Reader’s YouTube channel — it starts with an introduction by Garth Nix, followed by a really delightful conversation with Fiona Stager.

Incidentally, if you’re not from Brisbane but are chasing a personally signed copy, your best bet is to contact Avid Reader or Pulp Fiction — they know (or should do, but do tell them) that I’m happy to get myself to the store within the following week and sign things (maybe let me know you’ve ordered the book, too). There will probably be a similar arrangement with Travelogues.

There are also (at the date of this post) signed copies in-store at Avid, Pulp, and ReLove Oxley.