Kellie Byrnes is thrilled that her first book, a children’s picture book titled Cloud Conductor, is now available! Kellie is a freelance writer who has been writing for many years, but she has always wanted to be an author, and can’t believe the day is finally here where she can hold one of her books in her hand.
Cloud Conductor is a picture book that encourages children to have their head in the clouds and use their imagination to deal with any challenges that pop up in their lives.
In the story, Frankie loves to just sit and watch the clouds. She conducts symphonies in the sky and listens to the melodies that only she can hear.
As the seasons pass, Frankie is taken away from her bedroom on the tales she creates. Even when illness means she can’t leave her bed, Frankie can escape to the beach with shimmering waves or the outback with thundering horses.
Readers will be enchanted as they learn to become cloud conductors too, no matter where they are or what situation they are in. Cloud Conductor inspires imagination that can be shared over and over.
Today we interview Kellie to learn more:
What was the inspiration behind Cloud Conductor?
Cloud Conductor came into my mind when I was musing about how hard it must be for ill children in hospital, or at home, who suddenly can't run around and play like they normally do.
I thought about how kids might be able to cope, and what tools they'd have at their disposal. My mind wandered from creativity to seeing shapes in the clouds. From there the name 'Cloud Conductor' popped into my mind. I loved the sound of that, and the images it brought to mind, so this gave me a direction to take the story.
Why do you think it’s important for children to read stories about escapism and the imagination?
I'm a big believer in the importance of escapism and imagination because I know how important this has been in my own life. I've always had "my head in the clouds", from when I was a young child, and have found that when I’m having tough times, it’s my creative streak and love of stories that help me to cope (along with other tools such as meditation, walking my dogs, journaling, and hanging out with friends and family).
I also believe – and research has shown – that creativity improves our mental and physical wellbeing. In a time where bullying is rife and stressors are everywhere, this is a more important tool than ever for children to have in their mental-health toolkit.
Creativity is something I really think adults need to encourage in children. We need to encourage it in ourselves, too – after all, we spend way too much time being serious and thinking about how things could go wrong. We’re much better off using our imagination to feel at peace, and to come up with clever solutions to problems!
Why did you decide to write for children?
I've been a bookworm since I can remember, and was always working on my own stories as a kid. As I grew older I stopped doing this (this happens to so many people, doesn’t it?!), but I knew I wanted to eventually write my own books.
Over the years, no matter how old I got, I loved reading stories of all types, but found myself drawn to check out children’s books. I started collecting them, too – even though I didn’t have any littles myself! I just wanted to have them as part of my own library, for “one day”.
When I decided to start working on my own manuscripts, then, it seemed natural to focus on kidlit. I love the stories, the style and, in particular, the positive impact children’s books have on kids and on the world in general.
They bring families and other groups together, and help to teach children about key life skills such as empathy, understanding, resilience, and more. Of course, being part of an industry that helps children learn about literature and develop their own ability to create is also so rewarding!
What do you love about being a writer?
I love having the flexibility to set my own hours and work in my PJs if I want. I especially enjoy being able to indulge my curiosity. I’m always working on and researching different things, both in my freelance and personal work, so I never get bored, and am always learning something new. I also love being able to chat to kids about being a writer, and about one of my favourite topics – books!
What’s next for you?
Apart from organising book launches and other events, as well as school visits, I’m always working on other manuscripts. I’m writing and editing more picture books, both fiction and non-fiction ones; tweaking a junior fiction novel; and outlining a couple of novels for older children.
I have another picture book coming out next year, too, which is exciting. It’s a humorous story called Yes! No, about a cheeky animal that breaks into a house for food, and all the ups and downs that ensue.
Do You Offer School Visits?
Yes, I do, via both video conferencing and, in Australia, in person visits.