Juliette MacIver

Andrew Daddo

For information regarding Juliette MacIver and Sarah Davis’s joint sessions please click here.

Juliette MacIver lives in a seaside suburb near Wellington, New Zealand, with her husband and her live-in test audience of four young children. Before becoming a children’s author, she completed a Bachelor Degree in Linguistics and a Diploma in Teaching English as a Second Language. First published in 2010, she now has 14 picture books released with four different publishers: Scholastic NZ, Gecko Press, Walker Books and HarperCollins Australia. Two of her books have won the Storylines Notable Book Award, and several have been short-listed for other awards: one for the Crystal Kite Award, three for the New Zealand Book Awards for Children and Young Adults, and two for the LIANZA Book Awards. Her books are available in Australia, New Zealand, Canada, the UK and the USA, where one of her most recent books, Yak and Gnu, received excellent reviews in the Wall Street Journal, the New York Times and the Boston Globe. When not writing, she enjoys yoga, playing soccer, and dancing with her children in the kitchen. She is also a little bit fanatical about the Rubik’s Cube.

Sessions I Run

I like to work with pre-school and primary-aged children, as my books are pitched at this level, but I am also happy to visit intermediates and colleges (ages 11 – 18 here in New Zealand). In my sessions, I will often do a song with younger children – I have three that I have written to go with my books, one of which is an action song. I speak about being an author, how I write, the publication process, with readings of my books in between. I  usually have question time at the end.

I prefer group sizes of around 20 – 60 for presentations. If the school want me to address a larger group, of say, 70 – 300, it really helps if they can provide Power Point facilities, and I can bring a pdf version of my stories and read them that way.

I am also happy to judge writing competitions, if required.

I enjoy presenting to adults too, either alone, or with another speaker, or in a panel discussion.

Workshops

I have run workshops for children of all ages, from as young as 7, up to 16 or 17 years. I have also run several workshops for adults.

My workshops focus on the craft of picture book writing, and I specialise in teaching the art and mechanics of rhythm and rhyme. I can combine these two in a long workshop, or focus on one or the other.

For a general picture book writing workshop, I like to look at the ingredients required for a strong story: writing from a child’s eye view, looking at how words and pictures work together, at characters, repetition, pacing, and how to create a satisfying resolution. Examples and counter-examples from published books are presented throughout for discussion.

For rhythm and rhyme, I like to examine rhyme scheme, scansion, editing and condensing, with practice exercises throughout.

For an adult workshop, I also take some time to look at the requirements of the publishing world: the picture book format, illustrators, agents, dealing with rejection, and finding a publisher that is a “good fit” for your work.

I also have a shorter session (45 minutes to 1 hour) that I run with children (ages 8 + works best), wherein we look briefly at the elements of good story structure, and then we create a story together. I elicit all the ideas for the story from the (popping) children, and together we craft it into good sentences, which I write up on a whiteboard, sometimes leaving them to create the ending. It is hilarious! And hopefully, gives them a good feel for the process of creating a strong story.