Wednesday, December 16, 2009


Well, I am really supposed to be working on my novel right now - only two and half days til my kids break up from school!! - but what does any procrastinating writer do when they hit a wall? Blog! So, here I am.
Earlier this month I was fortunate enough to participate in a brilliant masterclass at the Victorian Writers' Centre run by Antoni Jach, with a formidably talented and incredibly supportive bunch of fellow writers and, in the days following the course, boy, you couldn't stop me! I was churning out those words. But then, as to be expected, I had one crap day of writing and suddenly all my momentum goes down the drain. Now I approach my computer with a horrible mixture of fear and trepidation. When I read back over all those thousands of words that spilled out of me, will I be horrified to discover that they are all crap! That really, I have no idea what I am doing or where I am going?
I don't know about other writers but I constantly swing between feeling like a genius and a complete waste of space. There doesn't seem to ever be much in between. It's such a deeply personal and vulnerable thing to write, even if you are doing so behind the veil of fiction, that I find it almost impossible to be able to judge my work myself. Apparently, according to Antoni, writers become better at this over time - but this self-awareness and confidence is unfortunately still a long way off for me.
However, I am always comforted by the words of Peter Carey in despairing times like these:
'The whole business of writing is to live with doubt: to do what you don't know how to do, to place yourself continually in a situation of ignorance and inelegance. When you begin writing you're in a basic state of stupidity because you don't know anything.'
I figure if even PC feels like this after all those book sales and awards under his belt, I'm probably not alone.
Have a Merry Christmas everyone and if, like me, you're trying to write with a houseful of kids, my sympathies go out to you. :-)

Thursday, November 26, 2009

Winding down and looking forward to 2010!

I've had a busy year, illustrating and writing, and I'm looking forward to seeing the finished books early next year. First one to hit the stores will be a book I illustrated for Black Dog Books, written by Gabrielle Wang. It's called The Race For The Chinese Zodiac and we are looking at launching it in February 2010.
The next one to come out, also in February next year, is a lovely story by Krista Bell, called Peeking Ducks and published by Windy Hollow.
I'm also really excited to launch a series of four books that I have written for young readers about a fiesty young girl called Billie B Brown. These are published by Hardie Grant and will be out in April next year. I will write more about these in detail later on.
Lastly, I've finally got my new website up and running so have a look and let me know what you think.

Thursday, November 12, 2009

A Thousand Words Festival

Martine Murray and I will be appearing at the Thousand Words Festival (see below) between 11.40 - 12.20 pm to chat about the making of Mannie and the Long Brave Day

Storytime sessions with Andrew Daddo, Anna Pignataro, Anna Walker,

Tony Wilson, Sally Rippin, Martine Murray & Dan Jerris

Talk and reading by multiple CBCA award winner Glenda Millard

YA fantasy panel with Michael Pryor, Jen Storer and Lili Wilkinson

PLUS book signings, generous giveaways, free Go-Go Class, competitions, craft activities,

and a special appearance by SANTA!!!

Cost: Author Sessions: $10 adult full day, $5 child full day, children under 2 FREE.

$5 young adult fantasy panel. Plenty of free activities too!

Saturday 21st November

10am – 5pm

The Abbotsford Convent

1 St Heliers St, Abbotsford

Thursday, October 15, 2009

Family Fun Day

As Children’s Week celebrations draw to a close, a new initiative—Children365: celebrate them every day—will be launched at Melbourne Museum on Sunday 1 November 2009.

The concept for Children365 was developed after the tragic death of Darcey Freeman in early 2009. Following the loss of their precious little girl, Darcey’s mother and her family suggested an annual day to cherish all children. They asked the Alannah and Madeline Foundation to help make it a reality. The Alannah and Madeline Foundation initiative Children365 encourages all of us to cherish our children every single day of the year.

The Victorian State Government is proud to partner this initiative and by hosting a family fun day to launch the beginning of Children365. This day signifies the end of a week of celebrating children and the commitment to cherish and protect our children every day of the year. Melbourne Museum is supporting Children365 by generously offering FREE entry for all adult patrons on Sunday 1 November 2009. Concession and children 16 years and under are free every day.


A wide range of free activities will take place throughout the family fun day including – kite and puppet making workshops, chalk drawing, appearances from Premier’s Reading Challenge Ambassadors, sports and games, arts and crafts, entertainment and lots more!

The museum is open from 10am until 5pm. Most of the free activities will run from 10.30am until approximately 3.30pm (some will finish a little later). Andy will be speaking at 1.00pm. Some activities will be held outside the museum (in marquees such as the kite making), but most will take place inside. A full program of the day will be distributed to patrons attending the event and will also be available on our website from mid October.

Sunday, October 4, 2009

Mannie and the Long LONG Brave Day

Mannie and the Long Brave Day is now out in the world. It was a long (and brave?) process, finding just the right style to suit Martine's text, so I thought I'd post some of the early sketches to give you an idea of how the book developed.
There is also a photo of the 'real Mannie' - Martine's little girl. I took heaps of photos of her and stuck them all around my studio while I worked to inspire me - but this is one of my favourites, sent by Martine when they were in Paris together.
I have included the illustration we ended up using for the cover (left), as well as another cover idea (above) the designer came up with using one of the illustrations from inside the book. It took a long time to find a style that everyone was happy with and I worked in many different mediums. You can see that at one stage Lilliput was going to be in pink gingham! In the end we decided on the pale watercolour wash because Martine and I wanted the book to have a classic, almost old-fashioned feeling.
Every book I work on I try out many different styles and techniques until I find the one that most suits the feel of the book. I will post some other examples of more books I am working on later on.
"Mannie" has had some nice reviews so far. Here is a lovely one from the Sunday Age:
13 September.
When you were a child did you have (or wish you had) a Useful Box chockers with incredible items that might come in handy some time? Mannie has a special box filled with secret things and it's the perfect accessory for a girl with a yen for adventure. The intrepid Mannie coaxes companions Lilliput and Strawberry Luca into an expedition. They set off into the great unknown, stopping regularly to check the box for anything that will put the excellent back into their exploration. During their journey, repetition and delicious onomatopoeia abound, reminiscent of "We're Going On A Bear Hunt". Indeed, read this to an under-five and you'll see their eyes light up as they detect the patterns in the story. Two talented author-illustrators have collaborated for this tale. You can feel their friendship frolicking from page to page.

This one is from Australian Bookseller & Publisher:

And this one was from Magpies:

Friday, September 11, 2009

Blog reviews of Chenxi

I know I said I'd finished with 'Chenxi' - well, I have! I just wanted to post two 'reviews' I received from people during my blog tour. Here they are:

"I can tell you as an Asian that Sally Rippin nailed 1980s China/Asia. There was a point while reading the novel when I wanted to cry because I was so happy that although Sally is a wai guo ren, she captured 1980s China/Asia so honestly (both the good and the bad) but without being patronizing.
I want to read this novel all over again. I read the North American edition and I think I will be receiving the Australian edition in the mail soon. Sally says the Australian edition is different, so I want to read it." - Tarie

"Dear Sally,
I loved going on tour with you through your site. I am one of the many groupies of your book Chenxi and the Foreigner, and I loved how you took us on a journey to the book's very inception, Shanghai, 1980s, complete with pictures from your dad! What I loved most about your book was its ability to capture the heady delirious excitement of first love, and its rather sexy and complex ASIAN male protagonist. Most love interests in young adult popular fiction (as opposed to young adult literature, which is what your book is) are focused on portraying white middle-class boys that look like Ashton Krutcher with blonde hair. You portray another culture with great sensitivity and kindness. Thank you for a brilliant book!" - Alice

Friday, September 4, 2009

blog tour - that's it from me!

Well, I have come to the last photo I wanted to post on my blog tour. Many readers have asked me what happened to the 'real' Chenxi. Well, he is alive and well and working as a full-time painter in Austria. This is one of his more recent works and the painting I describe in my novel. For more about the 'real' Chenxi as opposed to the invented Chenxi (who I write about in my novel) you can read Tarie's great interview with me tomorrow, which is the last post of my blog tour.
Thanks to Joanna, the Book Muncher, Cindy, Greenbean and Steph for hosting me this week. And
thanks to everyone who has followed - especially Rach.
Hopefully see some of you at: intothewardrobe tomorrow!
And for the blogger who asked to see all the covers so far, here they are. There are two more versions to come from Germany and Belgium. It's always exciting to see how different they can be. I'd be interested to know
your favourite!

Thursday, September 3, 2009

Blog tour Day Three

Here are a few photos of Shenyang, a small rural village in central China just outside of Xian - the city known for its Terracotta Warriors (or as my son used to call them, the Terracotta Worriers - what are they worrying about, Mummy?)
As a student, I spent two weeks staying there with the 'real' Chenxi's family and much of what I write about Anna's experience there mirrors my own. Like Anna, I was the first foreigner that many of the locals had seen and even a simple walk down the street would cause all kinds of commotion and uproar, much more extreme than the attention I received in Shanghai. And, like Anna, during my stay in Shenyang I had to endure the humiliation of the public showers, where I was praised by all the other women lathering up under the jets of lukewarm water for my whiteness and fatness - sure signs of prosperity!
'Xiao Pang Pang' or 'Little Fat Fat' was the nickname I earned myself in China. While this may have been considered a compliment by the Chinese, many of whom had lived through years of famine in the not too distant past, it was not exactly the kind of nickname a nineteen year old Australian girl had been hoping for. I had been hoping for something more along the lines of 'Slender Willow' or 'Shining Treasure' but 'Small Fat Fat' it was.
If you ask nicely, I might post a couple of photos of 'Small Fat Fat' and 'The Real Chenxi' later in the week. Then again, you might choose to avoid the disappointment. Neither of us are nearly as glamourous as Anna or the made-up Chenxi. :-)
This last photo is the bus we caught from Xian to Shenyang along with a few dozen live chickens strapped to the roof.

Wednesday, September 2, 2009

Blog tour Day Two

Day Two of my blog tour and here are a couple more photos from my time in Shanghai. This is the marketplace where much of the novel takes place. Anna rides through this marketplace each day to get to the Art Academy and at first is horrified by all the blood and gore and filth of the meat section. Like many sheltered Westerners, she is only used to seeing her meat under plastic, or preferably already cooked. Her father continues to eat this way, in fancy Western restaurants, where the meat is imported and the wine is from home. As far as he is concerned, if he can transport his comfortable life intact without having to deal too much with the locals, well, that suits him fine. 
Anna believes herself to be more adventurous. She wants to taste the local life and before long is eating at the street stalls and making friends with the locals - despite her father's warnings. She ignores his warnings as over-protectiveness, but it turns out that it is her friends who are more in danger than she.
The top photo is of the street stall where I would regularly eat my breakfast as a student in Shanghai. On freezing winter mornings, there was nothing better than a bowl of steaming tofu soup with a fried chive pancake to accompany it.

Tuesday, September 1, 2009

Shanghai past and present

Well, it's Day One of my 'blog tour' (see below) - at least in the US - which makes it all a little confusing, but keeps me on my toes! Anyway, I have turned up for work, so I guess that's the main thing, isn't it? 
It's a strange thing writing these pieces not knowing if anyone will ever read them, or worse still, reading them and rolling their eyes, but I suppose it's not all that different to writing a novel in a way, in the sense that you never get to see who is reading your work - and you can only hope they don't hate it. Or, if they hate it they do so quietly. :-)
Anyway, as promised, I am posting some more photos. For those of you who have read Chenxi and the Foreigner, you will know that it is set in Shanghai in the late 1980's. Shanghai has changed enormously since those days, in fact, it is unrecognisable from the Shanghai of my student days. When I first moved to Shanghai to stay with my father, in 1989, he lived in the tallest building in the whole city. I think it was only fifteen or twenty stories high. Now, it boasts some of the tallest buildings in the world and to me has become a city that looks a lot like that 1920's futuristic film Metropolis
Gone are the shabby street vendors, babies with split pants and wind-chapped bottoms, and gnarly-faced old grandmothers scaling fish into the gutters. All this has been replaced by a sleek modern city of shining towers and glossy window displays of extraordinarily expensive handbags. 
The last time I was in China, I was complaining about this to a Chinese journalist I met on a train; Oh, how I missed the old Shanghai! He scoffed and said, 'It's all very well for you to think that those tiny coal-filled apartments look romantic on postcards. We much prefer living in clean new apartments, thank you very much!'
So, as a tribute to my student days, here are some 'before and after' shots of The Bund, in downtown Shanghai. The bottom one was taken in 1990, the top one in 2008. (Thanks for the photos, Dad!)

Monday, August 31, 2009

Chenxi and the Foreigner - Annick Press cover

My good friend, Rachel Power, commented on the gorgeous new Annick Press cover (see below) and this has given me the idea of starting off this blog tour by saying a few words about it. I was so thrilled when I received the image via email - I knew instantly that the designer had absolutely understood the book as he had summed up the main theme so brilliantly in a single image. The three Chinese characters tattooed on the back of the girl's neck are 'Wai Guo Ren' - or 'foreigner', in Chinese. In the beginning of my novel, my protagonist, Anna, believes she is fitting in so well at the Art Academy in Shanghai; she has made friends, she has impressed her fellow Art students with her painting, she convinces herself that she understands the locals so much more than her distant and aloof expatriate father does. Yet it is only later in the book that she realises that no matter how hard she tries, no matter how long she stays, she will never be accepted into this new country that is so different to anything she has ever known. She will always be branded a foreigner - even if she can't see this for herself. That vulnerability of being tattooed with this label, on the back of her neck, where everyone can see it except for her, mirrors for me so well the vulnerability of being in a foreign place and, even worse, the danger of falling in love with a total stranger.
Thanks again to the amazing cover designer at Annick, Irvin Cheung, and to the gorgeous model, Anna Warshawski.
Lastly, I have planned to post some photos throughout this week, that have inspired my novel or were taken during my time in Shanghai to add some interest. So, here is the first one (above). For any of you who have read the book, you will remember that Chenxi presents Anna with a painting on silk; a portrait of her in traditional Chinese dress. Well, this is the painting that inspired that part of the book.

Friday, August 28, 2009

Blog tour of Chenxi with Annick Press

Children’s and young adult author Sally Rippin is heading off on a blog tour to promote her book Chenxi and the Foreigner. She’ll be appearing in the following blogs over the week of Aug. 31 to Sept. 4, so follow along for fun interviews, reviews, giveaways, book chats, and more! Also, be sure to check out Sally Rippin’s blog throughout the tour, as she’ll be posting updates and sharing pictures from her time in China (1989–1992) that inspired Chenxi and the Foreigner!

Monday, August 31: Tea Time at Annick Press

Tuesday, September 1: The Book Muncher

Wednesday, September 2: Cindy’s Love Of Books

Thursday, September 3: Green Bean Teen Queen

Friday, September 4: Hey! Teenager of the Year

Saturday, September 5: Into the Wardrobe

Note: the tour dates are based on North American time zones; if you’re following along from Australia (like Sally!), you can either stay up really late or just wait until the next morning!

Sunday, August 23, 2009

Annick Press cover

My young adult novel has recently been published in Canada and the US with  Annick Press  - this is the new cover. In a week or two (I will keep you posted) I will begin a 'blog tour' - a bewildering task indeed for someone of so few blogging skills! However, my lovely publicist, Joanna Karaplis, has kindly held my hand the whole way and it seems it is not such a daunting task after all! 

Thursday, August 20, 2009

Hardback copies of 'Millie' for sale

I was at the Whitsundays writers festival in Queensland last month with John Marsden and found out that he still had dozens of boxes of hardback Millie's in storage! This is probably one of my favourite books and I was very sad when it finally went out of print earlier this year. 
So, thanks to John, I now have a hundred of them, in hardback, that I am happy to sign and pass on if anyone would like to buy one (or half a dozen?) - drop me a line.  :-)
Just email me at

Friday, July 31, 2009

Advance copies of my new book.

Just received my advance copies of Mannie and the Long Brave Day. Very exciting! Here's the front cover. I love Martine's writing and I fell in love with this story as soon as I read it. I hope you do too!

Wednesday, July 29, 2009

Post number one

Hello. Thanks to my good friend and inspirational blogger Rachel Power, I am finally joining the blog world. I'm not expecting to be a regular user (who knows?) but hope to use this site to chat about new books I'm working on, or books that have just been released.
This picture is from one of my latest books that I illustrated for Martine Murray, which will be released in September. More on this to come.
I'd love to hear from anyone who happens to stumble across my blog (particularly any of my readers - books, that is!), so I can see if maintaining one of these things is really worthwhile.
I'd also like to use this blog to draw attention to other great blogs and websites I come across so don't forget to click on the links.
Well, that wasn't really too painful...
Back soon!