Feb 20 2014

Midnight on Exhibition

A preview of the “Midnight”exhibition at The Literature Centre

It’s always a thrill to look back and follow the stages involved in preparing a book for publication.

- from its origin and inspiration to the extensive research involved.

- the ‘journeys of discovery’ that help balance creative interpretation with historical authenticity.

- the development of a storyline to the rough drafts and sketches.

- the creative process of the artist that leads to original art.

Midnight captures the bond between horse and rider, the journey to war and an important moment in Australian military history. The Literature Centre invites school groups to view this moving, thought-provoking exhibition – a perfect workshop for students in the lead up to ANZAC Day. Suitable for Year 3 – Year 7
To book go here:

We’ll be celebrating Midnight with an informal gathering at the Literature Centre on Open Day, Sunday, March 16th from 2–3.00pm. Join Gee Jay the light horse for an Anzac biscuit and a cuppa. For details, click on the invite.

Jan 29 2014

Creating Midnight

There can be no better way to research than to follow in the footsteps of your characters. With Midnight, the first step was contacting Peter Haydon at Bloomfield Homestead in NSW, where Guy Haydon grew up and where Midnight was born. Mark and I shared our ideas about making a picture book based on their family folklore. To say the least, they were thrilled that we wanted to bring their family history to life for children. Ali and Peter Haydon warmly welcomed us into their home and generously gave us access to their archive room, where Guy’s war relics are preserved, along with his personal correspondence from the trenches at Gallipoli and throughout the desert campaign.

Inspiration for the first painting:






We walked through the fields alongside the Pages River where Midnight was born and traveled up to the high country where Midnight’s bloodlines still roam free. Here’s a photo of the broodmares taken at Scott’s Creek where they run in lush paddocks with plenty of space to rear their magnificent foals. The Haydon horses have a unique claim of being bred by the same family on the same property since the early 1830`s.

Then Mark and I headed off to Israel to follow the trail of the light horsemen and their various stops at wells for the three days leading up to the charge at Beersheba. This is a remote site where they stopped to water their horses.

Midnight’s story captured my heart. My greatest challenge was to capture the devoted bond between Midnight and Guy. I hope my paintings reflect a deep reverence for a light horseman and his beloved mare.

Here’s my process…from thumbnails to preliminary sketches to the final art:

Jan 18 2014

Midnight – a story within the story

In the fading afternoon light, on October 31st 1917, the mounted infantry division of the 4th and 12th Regiments of the Australian Light Horse took part in one of the last great cavalry charges in history. The capture of the wells of Beersheba, against a well-entrenched enemy, was a glorious hour in Australian military history. The audacious victory held the key to the Middle East campaign of World War 1, and led to the liberation of Jerusalem and the fall of the Ottoman Empire.

as told by Mark Greenwood

The spark to write about the light horse and the charge at Beersheba came from a visit to a school in Queensland where I saw the famous photograph of the charge hanging in the school hall.

The photo, and the controversy surrounding it instantly intrigued me. I began reading many light horse books with a view to writing a story that would bring this moment in our history to life.

I’m drawn to little known slices of history where themes like courage and mateship play an important role in defining our past. So I began a search for a story within the story – I was searching for a tale of one horse and one rider among those brave 800 – a story that would give readers a sense of atmosphere and participation and excitement about that historic event.

And that’s how Midnight’s story found me!

I visited the Haydon’s Bloomfield homestead in the Hunter Valley, NSW where Midnight was born. I was graciously granted access to Guy’s letters from the trenches at Gallipoli and throughout the campaign in Palestine.

Then, together with Frané, we travelled to the scene of the famous charge and retraced the places where Guy and Midnight camped in the last few days leading up to the charge.

For me, going to the setting I’m writing about, where the historical event actually occurred, is one of the crucial stages in bringing history to life. It is a fascinating part of the process of writing about the past.


This book was inspired by the folklore of the Haydon family from “Bloomfield”, in the Hunter Valley, NSW. Riding his beloved mare, Midnight, Guy Haydon, a 25-year-old stockman, enlisted with the 12th Light Horse Regiment on 15th of February 1915.

Lt. Haydon was parted from his horse when he was sent to Gallipoli. When he returned to Egypt he was allocated another, but no horse could replace Midnight. Lieutenant Haydon searched for weeks amongst the thousands of army horses until he found Midnight with another regiment. Negotiations between the commanding officers of both regiments to swap horses eventually reunited the soldier and his horse.

During the battle for Gaza, Midnight remained continuously under saddle for seven days and nights – testament to the endurance of this wonderful horse, as well as to the care she received from Guy Haydon.

The Lieutenant and Midnight served together until sunset on the 31st of October 1917 when the 4th and 12th Regiments of Australian Light Horse charged the Turkish stronghold of Beersheba. Riding Midnight, Lieutenant Haydon was one of the first to leap the enemy trenches.

Midnight’s story is told in a simple prose style, accompanied by Frane’s vibrant interpretation in this poignant re-imagining of an extraordinary event in Australia’s history.

This story ends on a solemn note, but Midnight is a hero and her inspiring story is one that I hope many young Australians will read, just as we read about other heroes whose stories have contributed to our national myth-making.

History is about listening and sharing stories. I hope our Midnight will encourage readers to think critically about the tragedy of war. I hope the story will linger in the reader’s memory long after the book is closed.

Midnight – the story of a light horse published by Walker Books Australia.
US edition to be released in 2015 by Candlewick Press.
Buy online or in all good bookstores from February 1st, 2014

May 23 2012

The Book Boat Ships Off

Euphoria. Completed art ready to ship to New York.
The Book Boat for Holiday House Publishers had many ports of call. At the Bologna Children’s Book Fair, where I met the editor Grace Maccarone for the very first time.

Los Angeles and by pure syncronicity, I met the author, Cynthia Cotten (shhh- don’t tell the publisher).

Upstate New York and a visit to the Erie Canal Museum in Syracuse for research and finally Fremantle, Australia to create the art.

So what’s in the box…here’s a sneak preview of the art. Click on image to see full spread. To see more, you may have to buy the book next spring. ;-)

Feb 14 2012

The Greatest Liar on Earth – A True Story

“Truth is Stranger than fiction. But De Rougemont is stranger than both”
– The Wide World Magazine June 1899

Received an advance copy of the new book today. I’m thrilled.
Painting Louis’s entertaining tall tales was an artist’s dream. Creating whimsical fish with hairy moustaches, witty flying wombats and a hilarious scene with cannibals was out the normal spectrum of my subject matter.

I tried to imagine Louis de Rougemont’s tall tales could be true. In the process of creating the art I found myself, like many others, struck by the charm of one of history’s colourful characters – a loveable dreamer-a master of “beautiful lies”.

Note from the Author: Mark Greenwood
The Greatest Liar on Earth is a tale of shipwreck, catastrophe and miraculous events.

But beneath the surface it’s the ‘true story’ of an unusual character, perhaps an overly enthusiastic dreamer, perhaps a charlatan, who is forced to confront the consequences of his storytelling.

There was a time when his incredible tales took audiences to places they could only imagine. His popularity grew as people turned to his adventures to enrich their lives. Dignitaries were struck by his charm. He was overwhelmed by invitations to lecture from every corner of the globe.
In later years, when he was disgraced as a charlatan, Louis earned a meager living telling stories to anyone who will listen.

In The Greatest Liar on Earth we are left to ask – after we have been entertained by a ripping yarn – does it matter if it is actually true or not?

Walker Books Australia: imminent release
Candlewick Press USA : Release Date: October 2012

See the Trailer. Click here.

Nov 9 2011

Ghosts of Gwalia

Gwalia is a red dirt ghost town, nearly 1000km from Perth. The shacks have been long deserted, but one cannot help but feel like a voyeur, sneaking into peoples homes while they’re out.
A few creaking doors and the howling wind sets the scene.

More pictures on my Facebook Page.
We’re here to run workshops, in nearby Leonora, to further opportunities for local Indigenous people.

The Team:
Ron Bradfield Jr, from Artsource, Manager Regional + Indigenous Program

Margaret Whiskin, Publishing Manager, from Magabala Books , an Indigenous Publishing house

And me….

This is a piece of goanna (lizard) tail I grabbed from the fridge for morning tea!

Participants are enjoying learning the process of making books and being exposed to new art materials.
I’m learning to ‘go with the flow’ and enjoying every minute along the way.

Dec 7 2009

Creating Book Trailers

After two days of extensive training at a writersWA workshop and thoughts of giving up only once, my new book trailer for Ned Kelly and the Green Sash is finished. Well actually, the real one was finally commenced and completed on the flight from New York to Tokyo – all that time, everyone asleep, bad food, no internet = Perfect.
Ned Kelly and the Green Sash
Please click here to view: Ned Kelly and the Green Sash

The best part of learning this art was the company kept.
With my wonderful peers, we all came away with immaculate trailers.
Please also check out their trailers: Robyn Mundy’s, Meg McKinlay’s, AJ Betts’s, Lara Morgan‘s, Amanda Curtin, Chris Nixon‘s and Dianne Wolfers.

Jun 11 2009

Heart of Texas: A Lone Star ABC

Yee haw!
Here’s a book trailer Laura Melmed created of our new book now on youtube: Click me.
Heart of Texas: A Lone Star ABC

Here’s the blurb:
Welcome to Texas—home of cowboys, cattle, and NASA—where “Friendship” is the motto folks live by. Remember the Alamo, where a brave Army fought against Santa Anna; visit Big Bend National Park and try to spot a Bear; and go to the Cowgirl Museum and Hall of Fame to discover the women who Conquered the Old West. Celebrate Texas in this alphabetical tour from Laura Krauss Melmed and Frané Lessac, the bestselling duo who brought us Capital! Washington D.C. from A to Z and New York, New York! The Big Apple from A to Z.

With a treasure trove of facts and bright, bold art, this rootin’-tootin’, rip-roarin’ tribute to the Lone Star State will have readers shouting “Yee-haw!”

Mar 13 2009


Very exciting news…of the 42 international books honored on this list, Simpson and His Donkey (The Donkey of Gallipoli) AND We Are All Born Free were selected. The Donkey of GallipoliWe Are All Born Free


Outstanding International Books list offers tales that speak to every student

Talk about an international effort. Some of the world’s best children’s book artists got together to help Amnesty International celebrate the Universal Declaration of Human Rights’ 60th anniversary in We Are All Born Free, one of the 42 titles recommended by the fourth annual United States Board on Books for Young People’s (USBBY) Outstanding International Books committee. This and other titles on our list offer young people the best of children’s literature from faraway places—books that introduce them to outstanding authors and illustrators from other countries, help them see the world from other points of view, and provide another perspective or address a topic that may be missing from children’s books in the United States.

Our committee is pleased to present this year’s choices with the hope that these books will be used by young people, and those who work with them, to explore our diverse world. Information about the Outstanding International Books project can be found at www.usbby.org.

AMNESTY INTERNATIONAL. We Are All Born Free: The Universal Declaration of Human Rights in Pictures. illus. Frances Lincoln. Tr $19.95. ISBN 978-1-84507-650-4. U.K.
Gr 3-5–In this oversize book, published to coincide with the 60th anniversary of the Universal Declaration of Human Rights, each of the 30 articles of the Declaration has been simplified for young readers and illustrated by an internationally renowned artist. Photographs of and brief biographical information about the illustrators are included.

GREENWOOD, Mark. The Donkey of Gallipoli: A True Story of Courage in World War I. illus. by Frané Lessac. Candlewick. RTE $16.99. ISBN 978-0-7636-3913-6. Australia.
Gr 3-5–When England declares war on Germany, Jack, who immigrated to Australia in search of adventure, enlists and takes part in the invasion of Turkey’s Gallipoli Peninsula. In the 24 days before he’s killed, Jack carries more than 300 wounded men off the battlefield on a donkey. Poignant gouache illustrations highlight this story of heroism.

Jan 27 2009

Lighthouse Girl

Dianne Wolfer came up from Albany and stayed over for a PJ party.
She’s meeting her publishers this morning about her exquisite new book Lighthouse Girl due out in early March. Here’s the blurb:
It’s 1914. Fay can shoot a rabbit and make a mean nettle stew. She understands Morse code and the semaphoric alphabet. She knows where penguins nest and when humpback whales migrate. But until she starts writing to a soldier named Charlie, she’s never known friendship – and she’s never had a friend to lose.
Based on the true story of Faye Howe, this gentle tale brings to life the hardships of those left at home during the war — waiting, wondering, hoping. Drawing on fascinating archival material, and interweaving fact with fiction, award-winning author Dianne Wolfer deftly recreates this period in Australian history from the perspective of a young girl.

Last night: Music wafted up our road and we discovered that the Survival Day 2009 concert was held a mere 100 yards from our house – a national celebration of Aboriginal music, performance, visual art and culture. An exciting alternative to the official Australia Day event’s although we also indulged in prawns on the barbie doll at David and Lindsay Lloyd’s house with stunning views over the Swan River for the annual Sky show.