AFTS Conference — registrations close 18 September 2022

AFTS conference dates and dreamy imagery by Lorena Carrington

REGISTRATIONS CLOSE SEPT 18 for the Australian Fairy Tale Society conference in Brisbane on 1-2 October 2022. You can see further details and register here: AFTS Conference.

I will be on the keynote panel with Bettina Nissen (MC), Uncle Alan Parsons and Jo Henwood.

Australian Fairy Tales: Flesh or Fossil? with MC Bettina Nissen, Uncle Alan Parsons, Jo Henwood. Kathleen is a Brisbane-based illustrator and writer. As an illustrator, she has won one World Fantasy Award (and been a finalist three other times), and has been shortlisted once for the Hugos, and once for the Locus Awards, as well as winning a number of Ditmars. As a writer, she has won a British Fantasy Award (the Sydney J Bounds Award) and two Ditmars, and been shortlisted for World Fantasy Awards, the Courier-Mail People's Choice Book of the Year Award, the Crawford Award, the Australian Shadows Award, the Eugie Foster Memorial Award, and several Aurealis Awards.

Oz Comic Con Brisbane 2022

Oz Comic-Con is on in Brisbane this weekend, September 17 and 18, 2022, and I will be there, selling books, being interviewed with Trent Jamieson, and sketching cosplayers!

Photo of me, with covers of Flyaway in the background, for OzComicCon

The sketches from the Homegrown event in March are in the post Oz Comic-Con sketches, but here is my favourite (masked Kermit holding Mjölnir).

Marker sketch of cosplayer in Kermit hoody holding Mjolnir


Silhouette of Queenslander house and birds on top of a frame

Getting the birds framed for the launch of Darryl Jones’s Curlews on Vulture Street, next Wednesday (14 September 2022) Avid Reader in Brisbane.

Cover of Curlews on Vulture Street by Darryl Jones — a photo of a bush stone-curlew on a blue background

I don’t cope well with measuring and cutting rectangles, so a massive shoutout goes to the very efficient Frameshop for saving me (again, as usual).

Night at the (Gympie) Library 9 September

Next week (less than a week!) I’m going up to Gympie again to give a drawing-and-stories workshop for WriteFest.

WriteFest ad

WriteFest: Night @ the Library with Kathleen Jennings

Date: 9th September 2022
Location: Gympie Library
Cost: Free but booking required
Time: 17:00 – 19:00

Are you looking for ways to spin ideas for art and stories? Join author and illustrator Kathleen Jennings and learn how drawing fast and badly can help you collect inspiration and expand your creativity. Suitable for ages 12-17.

Book online here: Booking

The Stone Road — online conversation with Trent Jamieson

Cover of The Stone Road. Photo of Trent Jamieson. Photo of Kathleen Jennings.

Trent Jamieson and I will be talking about his new book, The Stone Road, online for A Room of One’s Own, this Monday August 15, 2022 in the evening (if you are in America) and Tuesday August 16 in the morning (if you are in Australia).

UPDATE/EDIT: you can now watch the conversation here:

Here is what I’ve previously said about The Stone Road:

Trent Jamieson’s The Stone Road is a heart wrapped in thorns. Its world, even as it unpicks itself at the seams, is shot through with bright mysteries. And the novel, like its heroine, holds dear a loving, quarrelling community, even as it understands that towns — like time and people — slip away like dust. The Stone Road is a cycle of mysteries, an invocation of kindness amidst decay, a promise to the living, and blessing for the dead.

To read The Stone Road is to enter a lyrical, wavering world, a landscape wearied by time but vibrant with monsters grown out of history, watched over by clever birds, whispered beneath by the dead, where a girl strives to hold one town safe even as time and the long shadow of other people’s choices erode what she knows to be true.

If you love Tiffany Aching and CSE Cooney’s Saint Death’s Daughter, you’re going to want to read Trent Jamieson’s The Stone Road

BWF Author-Illustrator Episode

Screenshot of link to Author-Illustrator episode

Sarah Davis interviewed me for an episode of the Brisbane Writers Festival’s Author-Illustrator series. You can watch it through the BWF website, or on YouTube (below).

Author/Editor conversation: Angela Slatter, Cath Trechman, and me

Link to Author/Editor Episode 5 on the BWF website

The Brisbane Writers Festival and the Institute of Professional Editors have put together a series of conversations between authors and editors, and ours has just been released! This time, it’s editing relationships all the way down — Cath Trechman is Angela’s editor at Titan, and Angela has edited me, and I’ve had tangential kind-of-sort-of editorial conversations with people from an illustrators perspective…

You can buy single-episode on-demand access or season passes here: Author/Editor Episode 5

And you can see the other episodes (released and forthcoming) here: Online events and series.

IPEd tweet: Award-winning gothic fantasy author Angela Slatter discusses creative processes with her #editor at Titan Books, Cath Trechman, and her illustrator, Kathleen Jennings, also an award-winning gothic fantasy writer whose works have been edited by Angela.

The Path of Thorns — Brisbane launch 17 June 2022

Photo of hand holding The Path of Thorns book with purple foil lettering

A. G. Slatter‘s newest novel, The Path of Thorns (available to pre-order) is being officially launched in Brisbane at the

Friday 17 June 2022
registration required (but free)

Angela will be in conversation with me! There will be a signing, and books for sale, and you will see us talking elegantly (Angela says bickering).

About the event:

Asher Todd goes to live with the mysterious Morwood family as a governess to their children. Asher knows little about being a governess, but she is skilled in botany and herbcraft, and perhaps more than that. And she has secrets of her own dark and terrible – and Morwood is a house that eats secrets.

With a monstrous revenge in mind, Asher plans to make it choke.

However, she becomes fond of her changes, of the people of the Tarn, and she begins to wonder if she will be able to execute her plan – and who will suffer most if she does. But as the ghosts of her past become harder to control, Asher realises she has no choice.

Angela Slatter is the author of the gothic fantasy novels, All The Murmuring Bones, The Path of Thorns and the Verity Fassbinder supernatural crime series. She has won several awards including a World Fantasy, British Fantasy, Australian Shadows, Ditmar and Aurealis Awards.

Join Angela in conversation with illustrator and writer of Flyaway, Kathleen Jennings as they discuss her latest novel Path of Thorns.

Books will be available for purchase on the day or bring your copy from home to be signed.

Presented as part of the Lord Mayor’s Writers in Residence series.

Registration is through Eventbrite (required but free).

Handouts as a structuring principle, mockups for getting things done

Mock-ups of a book of map making instructions

For the 1-hour drop-in map workshop at BWF, I made little zine-fold (aka 8-fold) booklets, which I put in little mermaid-stamped envelopes with little pencils and little pieces of nice drawing paper. (I think I learned this in primary school, but there are plenty of instructions for this sort of booklet online, e.g. wikiHow.)

Above, you can see the mock-up process (the easiest way to turn a vague idea into something real: Mockups and outlines).

Photo of yellow envelopes stamped with a linocut mermaid, with versafine clair stamp pad and hand-carved stamp in foreground
  • I folded a piece of paper into a booklet and really quickly, without thinking too hard, scribbled the whole layout into it. Then I went back over and drew all over that with arrows, moving things around — but that hand-drawn version has almost everything in it.
  • Then I drew up a template in Photoshop, with shading for margins and areas that wouldn’t print, so I knew what I had to work with.
  • I put the main text roughly into place, and then put in the example images I already had (I’d deliberately drawn some calendar pages and other illustration to give me examples for map workshops — see for example Tiny Forests and Banners).
  • I printed that out, and used it as a template to draw all the extra details around, like the map and lettering on the front cover.
  • Then my housemate and I proofread it a few times, and I spent some pleasant hours cutting and folding and listening to music.

Was this overkill for a free one-hour drop-in workshop? Yes. Was I overcompensating for my own uncertainty as to the exact venue constraints and whether this workshop could be done in an hour? Yes. Would I do it again? Yes.

Designing and folding the booklets took time, but it was proportionate to the result. People enjoyed them (they were awfully cute), and said it was good to have for such a short class, and to be able to take away if they had to leave early (since it was drop-in). And I really liked have a physical object to give people, so I knew they left the workshop with something.

The biggest lesson for me was how useful this sort of booklet/zine/object was in planning and giving the workshop. It’s easy to just go wild with handouts. But this was a single, self-contained object, with a size appropriate to the length of the class (three double-page openings and a wrap-around cover — the flip-side of the paper was blank for people to use as scrap paper). It was something that constrained my natural urge to put ALL THE INFORMATION in a talk, but it was also a prop I could talk to and scale my time around.

It might not apply to every format, but I’d like to experiment with similar (if less-illustrated) scaled handouts as a central structuring object for other workshops.

Photo of whiteboard with very scribbly fairy-tale map on it
The whiteboard by the end of the workshop

I’m adding this to my running list of lessons I’ve learned for giving workshops and presentations (see e.g. lessons for presentations and conferences). I should probably do a master post at some point, but for now the main lessons I have learned (your mileage my vary) are:

  • Use a handout scaled to the workshop size.
  • Do an initial outline very quickly, before overthinking.
  • If a presentation is image based, arrange images in the slideshow first, print them out 9-to-a-page to keep track, then just talk to/about the pictures. Minimal script needed — often any title-slides and maybe one or two scribbled notes of phrases to remember are enough.
  • If a slideshow is image-heavy, export a copy to PDF and use that if the tech set-up allows — you can zoom in on a PDF in ways a Powerpoint doesn’t easily allow.
  • If a script is necessary, use cascading dot-points — this makes it easier to edit for time (skip up to high-level dot-points) or elaborate (by referring to the low-level ones), as well as to navigate quickly.
  • If it’s a creative workshop, get people making things as early as possible.
  • If you want people to interact, get them to share their thoughts/activities in smaller groups, then pick on the groups for any ideas that emerge (giving everyone safety in numbers/plausible deniability).
  • If possible, mixed-age workshops can be great. Adults mellow the kids, kids loosen up the adults, everyone seems more willing to show their work, and if you need someone to act out an implausible action for art reference purposes, young joints are better suited.

Brisbane Writers Festival 2022 very brief recap

Bookmarks with suburb names from old estate maps
Suburb bookmarks from the State Library Bookshop

I had a lovely three days at the Brisbane Writers Festival! I had hoped there would be more days, but was miserably unwell during the week, and only just managed to claw myself back to being able to go in on Friday.

Unfortunately, this meant I missed hearing the readings and seeing the announcements of the winner of the Wordplay Microfiction prize on the Thursday, but I was permitted to read all the finalists’ stories after the event, and was enchanted with all the elegant, eloquent, unexpected ways they riffed on the inspiration image.

I can’t find a list of the winners online yet, but congratulations!

Cut paper silhouette swirl with fish, birds, person with paper planes
A particular shout-out to the student who made this image about soft-serve icecream!

On Friday I chaired the “Debuting in a Pandemic Panel”, with Jacqueline Maley, Sophie Overett and Lyndall Clipstone.

The three books were very different: Jacqueline Maley’s The Truth About Her is a novel of guilt, journalism, love and motherhood. Sophie Overett’s The Rabbits depicts of stifling Brisbane summers, and the damage and enchantment that can exist between generations. Lyndall Clipestone’s Lakesedge is a gothic, romantic fantasy, with more than a touch of the fairytale.

And it was lovely to bring together all the experiences which went into bringing these books into being, editing and launching them during the second year of a pandemic, and finding space and peace to write — and books to vanish into!

On Saturday I gave a one hour map illustration workshop.

Mock-ups of a book of map making instructions
Mocking up the handout booklet

It was actually really fun to see if this workshop could work in 1 hour (it did! although of course you can dive much deeper and do a larger map with more time) and to put together this little zine-fold instruction book which I hope to build on for future projects. This, although brief, was a very large and lively workshop between LoveYA events at the Brisbane Square Library.

Photo of whiteboard with very scribbly fairy-tale map on it
Crowd-sourced map of Little Red Riding Hood (the version with the zombie giraffe on a floating island)

After that I was on a panel with Lynette Noni and C. S. Pacat, chaired by Samantha Baldry, called “Sweet, Sweet, Fantasy”.

Book covers: The Gilded Cage, Dark Rise and Flyaway
The Gilded Cage, Dark Rise, Flyaway (although I was there as an illustrator, too)

We got very intense about research and making things up, getting things written, planning, exclaiming over each others’ writing processes, etc.

Sketches of people waiting in a book signing line
The trick at a book signing is to sit near people with long queues and sketch their fans

And on Sunday, I gave a three hour workshop on observation journals, honing skills and pursuing creative fascinations.

It was a smaller group and a long delightful workshop, wide-ranging and intense, and everyone dug thoroughly into the exercises, which was fascinating for all of us, because a lot of the point of this approach is that it will vary as people chase down their own processes. It was lovely to see how many pages of exercise, thoughts, ideas, plans and even drawings everyone left with.

It was lovely to update and expand this from the version I gave for the Queensland Art Teachers Association Conference last year, and bring in more focus on writing.

I have no photos of the session because I was bounding around talking and chatting for three hours and forgot

And around all the presenting and planning there were wonderful conversation with friends new and old, writers and publicists, publishers and agents, readers and fans, librarians, waiters, volunteers and BWF staff and board members, poets and musicians.

I might update this post with some photos if I come across them.