Creatives Chat: Writing – Liliana Stafford

Liliana has been writing for over twenty years and illustrating for 6. Her best known title is Amelia Ellicott’s Garden which has been published internationally and is currently being turned into a play for school children.

Liliana is also known for her horse and pony series based on the ten years she spent working with horses and teaching horse riding. Chiko, Through the Starting Flags and Shah were both awarded the Hoffman Children’s Choice award in WA.
In 2007 Liliana both wrote and illustrated The Stone Elephant using crystalline tissue paper and encaustic wax. She is currently painting large abstract paintings and has an exhibition of her work with the David Giles Art Gallery coming up in October 2013.

Liliana is currently working on several new picture books and a children’s story book called The Garden Dwellers; an illustrated story book based around a group of little people in a magical garden. The story is suitable for children age 6-10 or any child who loves fairies and magic.

Liliana Stafford chats writing:

1. How long have you been involved in the creative industries, and how did you become a professional writer?

Chiko by Liliana Stafford I began writing twenty years ago and was first published in 2000 with three picture books coming out in the same year. Before that I had always been an avid reader and with six children the house was always full of books. I started telling my kids stories I made up at bedtime and wondered if I could write a book. But I didn’t start writing seriously until the death of our pony Chiko in 1990 prompted the beginning of my Horse and Pony series.

2. Do people offer you work, or do you have to chase it down yourself?

Most of my work comes through The Children’s Literature Centre who have always been an amazing resource and support for my career. I also find work through word of mouth feedback, the CBC and my website.

3. Have you ever worked on a self-publishing project? What was the experience like – any traps or unexpected perks?

Although I have never self-published, my first Chiko book was published by a very small back yard publisher and it was a disaster. I never received any royalties and I had to enlist the help of Arts Law to get the rights back. It was a sobering exercise and I was lucky to have the pony series accepted by UWA Press afterwards.

4. How do you negotiate fees while freelancing for somebody?

I use the ASA rates for workshops and talks. For private mentoring work I charge an hourly rate. I prefer to work through organisations like the Children’s Literature Centre because they negotiate the fees and conditions. Sometimes when negotiating independently it’s hard to push for terms you’re happy with.

5. What single piece of advice did you wish you’d known when you were starting out in the industry?

Be yourself. You have arrived where you are because of who you are and what you have to offer and don’t lose the joy of creating for the sake of another publishing contract. Always create art that is true to you.

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Find out more about Liliana Stafford at her website, lilianastafford.com.

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