AN interview with the editors
by (cub reporter) Pablo Edmonds
PE: So how did this all begin?
Susan: Remind me how we got into this?
Kate: I was going for a run and thinking about bookish things and the idea for an Annual kind of fell into my head on the footpath outside Ian Galloway Park. True story. I ran home very fast and rang Julia from Gecko Press and arranged to have breakfast with her the next morning. At breakfast we talked about the how to/who for and wrote a brain dump on this paper bag…
Susan: Why did you have a paper bag?
K: It was a Pandoro bread paper bag (unavoidable endorsement) and it had some interesting words on it already. See below.
PE: Where does Susan come in?
K: I told Julia that Susan was essential to the Annual enterprise. Did I ring you then?
S: You emailed me. It was cryptic. Something about ‘a secret project, blah, blah…more later’. And then you demanded a meeting. You were all flushed and excited. We met at Poquito (unavoidable cafe endorsement) –
K: Poquito became like our office –
S: I got a bit excited too and – I’m not making this up – the next day at Poquito I saw Gregory O’Brien (see ‘Get rid of Fetu Fototo Day’) and he had an actual annual under his arm –
– and I demanded he give it to me. He didn’t put up a fight –
PE: What Annual was it?
S: The Puffin Annual, 1973 –
K: It was the Puffin Annual that really got us going. We loved the idea of the classic Annuals, Girls’ Own, Boys’ Own, Beano, Princess etc, but Puffin’s annual was really classy – and full of incredibly good writing and art –
S: I particularly liked the kooky interview with the rocking horse maker. Accidentally hilarious but alluring, and something like this has become my secret mission for the next Annual (intentional endorsement: Annual 2, due out in October 2017) –
K: And I kept thinking of the Bunty annual that my sister got for Christmas when she was eight. In 1970 –
S: I wasn’t born then, btw.
K: She was still reading it when she was eighteen –
S: Sad –
K: And finding new things in it…
K: But seriously, we really liked the annual recipe.
S: A kind of bumper miscellany, lots of different forms – story, comic, poetry, pictures, articles, how tos, puzzles, etc –
PE: Stuff for everyone?
S: For different kinds of readers –
K: And different ages.
PE: What happened next?
S: Then we had to actually do it.
K: The fun part – dreaming up ideas, then dreaming up writers and artists to go with them.
S: We wanted to get the right mix – a bit of this, a bit of that. Some funny stuff, some sport, a quiet poem, cities, small towns, beaches, boys, girls, a zebra, that sort of thing…
K: We thought pretty hard about which contributors best matched each idea – so, for example, James Brown is a master at poetic form and has a well-developed funny bone… we thought he’d do a found poem really well. We needed to use something that readers would recognise. School newsletters. Perfect. (See ‘Lost Items’.)
S: James made that idea his own…all the contributors did that –
K: True. We suggested ‘A map for getting lost’ to Gavin Mouldey and that idea morphed into BONE, a fantastical voyage in search of lost items – told through maps and journal entries.
S: And we asked Barbara Else for a boarding school story with mean girls – classic annual fare – and her ingenious spin was to make the picked-on new girl a robot (See ‘Tin Girl and the Crying Time’.)
K: What bit did you like best?
S: Getting my way without you realising it.
PE: But seriously?
S: I was serious.
PE: But really seriously?
S: Our meetings…knowing that nothing was out of the question…that an idea could go anywhere –
K: When one of us had an idea, and the other built on it, and then the other built further, on and on –
PE: Like playing nicely with Lego?
K: Mostly nicely. Except when Susan laughed immoderately at my ‘Interview with a Wood-turner’ idea –
S: One of the great bad ideas.
PE: Are you sad that it’s all over?
S: But it’s not.
K: Annuals come annually.
PE: Would you like to give people a taster for the next one?
K: Nah. Keep them guessing.
S: But I won’t let her do the interview with the wood turner. Promise.