Michael Speechley - Author Q & A

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5 minutes with Michael Speechley

Dr Michael SpeechleyThis month, we talk to Michael Speechley whose first picture book, The All New Must have Orange 430, has been shortlisted Picture Book of the Year, CBCA Awards, 2019.

What was the last good book you read?

I have literally just finished reading The Ear by Piret Raud from Estonia. It’s a weird little picture book about my favourite artist Vincent Van Gogh’s ear, the one that fell off. The ear was a very good listener and made a lot of friends because of its ability to take the time to listen to other creatures’ problems. It didn’t actually need to solve their issues, it just listened, as ears do. Then when it eventually needed some help as well, the other creatures jumped in to assist. Simple, quirky, right up my alley.

Do you have a favourite Library?

Too hard! Next question. But seriously, my favourite library is the one that is the closest to me. So right now, it’s the South Perth Library, but in a few hours, it will be the Manning Library, then later tonight, it will be the Canning Bridge Library in Perth!

What’s the strangest thing you’ve ever read about yourself or your work?

I recently went to a lecture about my book in Canberra, and they were looking at all the things I did when I created The All New Must Have Orange 430. Things like the use of language conventions, the composition of images and how I constructed the story. It was really technical, way above my head. I was really proud of myself because I didn’t realise I was so smart!

What’s the best piece of advice you’ve ever received?

Work hard! That’s it. You don’t have to be the best at anything, all you need to do is do your best, whatever that is for you. I always knew that I was good at making up stories and drawing, so I thought I should at least see if I could write and illustrate a book. It took me many years to do, but I did a huge amount of work, and I got better and better at drawing as I went. My confidence grew and eventually, after a lot of time and sacrifice, I fulfilled my goal.

What inspired you to write your book?

The All New Must Have Orange 430 is about the negative effects of advertising and consumerism, but it is also about living in a more informed and sustainable way and being careful about how you spend your spare cash. I noticed trends that were occurring in society, like fidget spinners and things like that, and I observed how everyone went crazy for them. I figured that these fads wouldn’t last long, and I was right. It didn’t take a rocket surgeon or a brain scientist to figure out where all that plastic would end up!

Want to read more about The All New Must Have Orange 430?

The All New Must Have Orange 430 is shortlisted for Picture Book of the Year with the winner announced on 16 August. Our Mini Makers Club sessions in August are inspired by this book.