Monday, March 23, 2009

That Initial Story... or How Monster-Blood Tattoo came to be.

'Bout time I posted don't we think!

E N Reinmuth was pondering... "If memory serves me right it was your interview on either the Today show or Mornings with David and Kim that got me out searching for MBT-Foundling, (technically I saw the gudgeon design before Lamplighter was even published, whoot!) and you said that you had gone to a publisher for a different story, and upon leaving you had dropped your notebook which held details of the world of the HC, and in turn the publisher asked you to write as many words a week, etc etc, leading to Foundling. Might I ask what that initial story was?"

Yes you may! It goes a little like this...

'Tis a long story I shall attempt to make short. I trained back in the early 1990's as an illustrator in Adelaide, South Australia. In 1995 I moved to Sydney to pursue illustration work with magazines, newspapers and advertisers. In 1997 I began as a cartoonist at Burgo's Catchphrase working there and as a freelance illustrator until I followed adventure overseas to the US in 2003, before crash landing back in Adelaide again.

Looking for illustration work, I went to a local publisher - Omnibus Books, an imprint of Scholastic Australia - on the recommendation of a fellow illustrator friend, Cheryl Johns. At Omnibus, the publisher, Dyan Blacklock, gave me a cover to complete, then a whole picture book (Grannysaurus Rex written by Tony Wilson, which is that "different story" I mentioned).

I used to sit in her office and talk about life the universe and everything and one day one of my many small black notebooks fell out of my bag as I reached for some gum. The book had the number "23" boldly on its cover and snatching it up, Dyan immediately began to peer within, wondering (she later told me) where the previous 22 notebooks were. Inside she found my crabbed notes about a pretend world I had been scribbling about since about 1993 (hence the then 23 and now 32 - almost 33 - notebooks). Dyan tells it that she felt the hairs on her neck raise; she asked me if I had written any stories about this pretend world.

I said, "No."

She returned, "Do you have any characters from this world?"

To this I responded "Yes," and began to list some off, including Rossamund, a boy with a girl's name.

Dyan thought he sounded interesting and persisted, "Put him down somewhere in the Half-Continent and tell us what happens."

So I did... and here we are.

22 comments:

portals said...

Awesome. Funny how amazing things happen unexpectedly.
Sweet Child O' Mine, for instance...

Klesita said...

Thank you Master Cornish, that is a very good story and Thanks Dyan Blacklock from all of us for her foresight.

tanita said...

*sigh*
This is still, aside from the novels themselves, the best how-it-all-began story, every. It's got Happily Ever After written all over it.

noelle said...

Great! Now I know how to get my books published. *labels notebook 23 and goes to wander around various publisher's offices to "accidentally" drop notebook*

Colog: a fragrant alcohol that can be used either for drinking or for use as perfume.

Anna said...

I so wish I could write stories. I was quite good at it when I was younger but I´ve noticed that as I have grown older I´ve lost most of my imagination and my brain has turned to stone.

ZombieWrangler said...

That's fantastic! I love the fact that it's all based on notebooks full of background and characters. I wouldn't be a bit surprised if those (along with a good editor) have helped you stay focused in making this story so tightly woven and cohesive.

To Anna: You were probably much better at writing when you were younger because you had much more practice then. If you're still interested now, start practicing! Try to write a few flash fictions (1000 words or less) first, and practice telling stories to children (they are very honest critics). Good luck.

Anonymous said...

What a great story! Happenstance can lead down the most wonderful paths...

E N Reinmuth said...

I am so glad I asked that question.

Can't say why. Just, glad.

Atesilda:
An annoying and dangerous weed to come across. The atesilda plant will leave its sticky seeds on the trousers of annyone who trapes through its reach, and once the seeds begin to germinate (immediately) they emmit a scent so fine only to be smelt by monsters, and boy do they love the stuff.

me said...

...and I thought you'd been bitten by a radioactive wombat.

That's a wonderful story - one of those great literary anecdotes. I for one am excited about where those other 32 notebooks can take us.

Magos Kasen said...

Well, that was a very fortuitous drop, since it has given us one of the finest works of fiction published.
Thankyou for writing Master Cornish, your work is a blessing!

Matt Bacon said...

Fantastic story. Fantastic books.

So if we kept you in a endless supply of notebooks that would mean endless stories of the Half-Continent right?

E N Reinmuth said...

Logic states that ought to be the case there Matt.

Damien said...

Great to hear this story again!
Just checking back through emails and found my first email to Mr Cornish in July 2006 - and talk of seeing MBT on the shelves of Borders in Brisbane City.
Some research found this story about this new up-and-coming author and I'll happily state reading MBT and hearing about how it came about helped spur me on to finish the first draft of my first story.
Thanks Dave!!

Pearlius said...

Teehee, that's a pretty cool way to get a book published. Now I feel warm a fuzzy inside.

Frull: The supporting beam of a bogle house/nest.

Arty Bel said...

Your story has inspired me to pursue my own career in illustrating and book writing, plus it has doubly encouraged me as a Christian. Thanks heaps!

monday said...

notebook #23, you say? I'm halfway there, then. maybe noelle and I will bump into each other in our innocent wanderings in publisher's offices and accidentally drop our books at the same time, severely rearranging the harmony of the universe and fusing both stories-in-waiting into one overpowered Superstory that, I don't know, catches bullets or something...

Ailityag: a bit of compost in a seedling-planter that looks like a new sprout but is only playing a cruel joke

noelle said...

Monday:
Maybe if we dropped our notebooks at exactly the same time and shone some gamma rays on them for good measure...nothing could stop our Superstory!!

Ovelfwe: a boiled egg on a string.

E N Reinmuth said...

I don't know if I'd ever be at catch-bullet stage but illustration for me is still a-cruisin'. I met an amateur author who wrote a parable for children and I'm his illustrator. First paid bit of work so I hope it will at least kick off my career.

I have a story of my own and most of my drawing is centered around it, but nothing will become of it until the long run has reached its end and goes out with a bang.

I try not to get over-excited, but it definately revives the heart when you find out such happenstance as this is still possible.

Cophy: John Cophy, like the drink, only not spelt the same ;P

Magos Kasen said...

Yes, it is inspiring. I am working on my own story as well, though I know I will never be able to rival Master Cornish's literary perfection.
Oh well, it is helpful to have something so grand to aspire to.

Bullet-catching superstories... awesome!

Lumper- (n) One who lumps.

portals said...

Something MBT needs is random merchandise, like those MBT playing cards that the lighters at Wormstool played with.

noelle said...

Mr. Cornish, did you get a Facebook? Either that or I just became friends with someone who has the same name as you and has also written a book series called "Monster Blood Tattoo."

Escalus said...

Oh! Oh! I'm so very, very glad aout that serendipitous drop! And PLEASE pass on my thanks to Ms. Dyan Blacklock; I owe her hourse of enjoyment. Well, you too sir, but really, that goes without saying =3

Facbook, eh? Hmm...