Totally Twins: Musical Mayhem is Happening Here!
I first met Aleesah last year at the Children’s Book Council Book Week Lunch on the Steyne Ferry where she was receiving the Runner Up Award in the prestigious Frustrated Writers Compeition. So I knew she could write but what impressed me was the commitment, drive and passion I heard in her voice when she talked about her writing and her soon-to-be realised dream of becoming published.
The Totally Twins series features identical ten-year-old twins, Persephone (she’s the sensible one) and Portia (she’s the messy one) Pinchgut. The books are for girls aged 7 plus and are written in diary format by Persephone, or Perse, for short. In Book 1, Musical Mayhem, which is out now, Perse begins writing her own personal secret diary. She’s horrified when she has to audition for the school musical because she can’t sing a note. As the Heartfield Heights musical extravaganza launches into full swing, Perse takes comfort in recording her secret thoughts and fears in her diary.
Why did you write a series about twins? Are you a twin or do you have twins in your family?
Sadly, I’m not a twin and I don’t have twins in my family either. But I’ve always been fascinated by twins and I’ve always wanted to be one! I don’t think that’s completely unusual, lots of people have told me they often wished to be a twin, too. Writing as Perse, I can be a twin, I can make my dreams for twin-ness come true – and hopefully entertain readers at the same time. Did you research twins for the stories?
I did research twins and found out lots of interesting things about them. Some of those things, I’ve tried to build into the books, like the ‘Top 5 Trying Twin Questions’ that Perse records:
1. So, you’re identical twins. Does that mean you’re sisters?
2. Which one of you is smarter?
3. Do you like being a twin? (As if we know what it’s like NOT being a twin!)
4. If you have a stomach ache, does your sister get it too?
5. Wait for it, it’s a good one … Do you ever wake up and forget who you are and think you’re the other one? As if!!!!
This list is based on real questions asked of twins – which is obviously funny, but also bizarre when you think about what twins get asked.
The books are illustrated throughout. What’s it like to work with an illustrator?
The illustrations for the series are done by Serena Geddes, a talented up-and-coming children’s book illustrator. Serena is great to work with. We live near each other so have been able to collaborate closely on the books. We’ve met several times for hot chocolate and a chat about the series and how each story should read and look. I’m really happy that Serena sought my input in the illustration part of the process. She was very considerate and valued my feedback. Her illustrations are simply divine by the way, I’ve been delighted with everything she’s done. Overall, I think we make a great team!
What have you done to celebrate the release of the series?
Besides the blog tour, I organised a major book launch at Berkelouw Books, Balgowlah (Sydney). We had prizes and goody bags to give away on the night and around 80 people turned up which was magnificent considering a huge thunder storm was raging outside at the time. It was standing room only in Berkelouws! I’ve also been travelling up and down the east coast of Australia promoting the series. It was launched at the CYA Conference in Brisbane in September, at the CBCA Northern Sydney children’s literary lunch titled, ‘Lunch with the Stars’, and also at the SCBWI Conference by Marc McEvoy, Books Editor at the Sun Herald.
I’ve also been doing loads of school visits and festival appearances. In November, I’ll be returning to Brisbane for more events including an appearance at TLC bookstore in Manly. I’ll also be visiting the Manning Valley, where I grew up, and in Tasmania. You know the song, ‘I’ve Been Everywhere, Man’, well that’s me at the moment. It’s been a wild, wild ride, but I’ve thoroughly enjoyed every minute of it.
When is Book 2 in the series due out and will you be launching it?
Each time I launch a book, I try to do something different. I’m hoping to be able to launch Model Mania, the second book in the series, in a school and I’m just trying to work out details for the event now. I have some fun ideas in mind!
What has been the best part of having this series come out?
Connecting with kids, most definitely. Kids are so passionate and enthusiastic about the books and about me as an author. I love their feedback, I love hearing them laugh at what I’ve written (laughing with me, not at me!) and the illustrations that Serena has drawn. The books themselves are really beautiful – if I do say so myself – and they’re also fun and quirky and real so I think they have loads of girl appeal. When a child comes up to me and tells me they really loved reading Perse’s story, there’s nothing better.
Do you have more books planned in the series?
I have loads more adventures planned for Perse and Portia. I absolutely love writing as Perse and fulfilling my twin fantasy – even if it is only in my books! I guess we’ll have to wait and see how well the first two books do, but fingers crossed, there will be more twin adventures heading my way soon.
Thanks for dropping by today, Aleesah. Where can people catch up with you next?
I’ll be stopping at Kirsty Burow’s Be A Fun Mum blogspot tomorrow at: www.beafunmum.com. For a full list of my blog tour stops, you can visit my website at: www.aleesahdarlison.com.