SOME people know early on in life what they’re good at, while others discover what they’re good at later. I’m in this second group.
Arnold Mundua wrote recently that he didn’t think he could ever become an author. I never planned to be one either; I just knew I liked to write – a joy I discovered as a teenager through the simple act of composing letters to my family and friends.
It’s amazing how one thing leads to another. In 2014, my story Oa the grasshopper & Kaipa the caterpillar, won the Crocodile Prize for children’s writing.
At the time that award was sponsored by Buk bilong Pikinini and I can recall the moment of disbelief and then uncontrollable excitement when I read Keith’s email informing me I had won.
For me, having my entry included in the Crocodile Prize Anthology that year was an achievement in itself and I was absolutely delighted but to win first prize in the category was definitely the cherry on top.
Then Buk bilong Pikinini decided to publish Oa the grasshopper & Kaipa the caterpillar as a sand-along storybook. It took two years to publish and it was an unforgettable experience for me – from the first rough drafts of illustrations to seeing the actual book itself, which was launched last month at a book fair at the Murray Barracks Sports Hall in Port Moresby.
I was beside myself with excitement when my copy arrived in the mail. Once more, I was in disbelief as I held the book in my hands. I was so happy I almost cried.
I felt it, hugged it, smelt it, I ran my figures over the illustrations while flipping through the pages. I will be ever grateful to the late Marlon Kuelinad for putting his heart into bringing my characters to life, characters I affectionately refer to as my ‘babies’.
It is unfortunate that Marlon and I never got to meet each other as he passed away a couple of months before the book was launched. I am also immensely grateful to Anne-Sophie Hermann, my editor and the founder of Buk bilong Pikinini, for her effort to have my story published. I also want to thank Andrew Kelly, Donna Rawlings and Neil Conning; people behind the scenes, whom I am yet to meet, who contributed to the making of the book.
My newfound journey as an author has been a fun and nerve-wracking at times. The anxious part came at the launch when I had to do a live reading on stage to a group of children. Likewise with media interviews. I know I will get better with more experience.
There will also be a launch in Brisbane but a date hasn’t been set. If you’d like to purchase Oa the grasshopper & Kaipa the caterpillar you can do so at Theodist in Port Moresby or at the Port Moresby Nature Park shop. Alternatively, you can order it online from Buk bilong Pikinini here.
Buk bilong Pikinini also have a pop-up bookshop in Theodist which opens today, so if you’d like to buy some reading books for your kids, Theodist is the place to go.