Saturday, May 10, 2014

Interview With Jacque Duffy

Meet Jacque Duffy! She is a Writer, Illustrator and Fine Artist. She will soon be putting on an art exhibition called "Hindsight". She is working on a non-fiction book about Mother Nature's fury and on a crime novel.

Jacque's newest book "The Bear Said Please" was released on April first of this year. She has written and Illustrated many children's books including, "That's Not a House!", "That's Not a Milk Carton!", 'That's Not a Balloon!", That's Not a Raincoat!" and That's Not a Moo Cow!" The first four of which were created to help promote rural life in the cities.

Jacque gives a detailed look into her life as a picture book writer/illustrator on her website and with us as well! I'm sure you'll love her whimsical illustrations and fantastic Fine Art works. Read on to hear more about Jacque!


Dani: How do you approach your Fine Art differently than your illustration?

Jacque: This is a kind of tricky question. I work in all art mediums (including etching) and my artwork ranges from photorealism to complete abstraction, therefore even my approach to various fine art works vary as each medium or subject requires. (For your question I will answer for my current love of semi-abstract urban landscape canvases.) Both my fine art pieces and my illustration works are creative, they come from the same place in my heart (and head). Being very busy, both have to be allocated time; so unless I have a spurt of “I must do this NOW, quick, run and get the brushes out”, I make a conscience decision of what requires my time. I work best when under threat of a close deadline, or violence, so, even though I say I allocate time, I am still working quite spontaneously. The one BIG difference is, I stand up and dance whilst I paint on canvases, and I sit or lounge when illustrating, often with my eyes closed while I am trying to visualize the image.

Dani: Do you have any art tips that you would like to share with us?

Jacque: The white page or canvas can often be discouraging. I am known for making a mark or doing an upside down scribble before I start a canvas, this to loosen up and just to get rid of the white. Sometimes I will spill paint on purpose too (I wear a lot).

Dani: What do you do when you have writer's/artist's block?

Jacque: I vacuum. That is a no fail way to come up with an idea. I loathe cleaning and am naturally very messy, vacuuming puts me into a mood so I talk to myself; eventually I come up with a crazy idea or two.

Dani: How do you come up with the ideas for your books?

Jacque: I breathe, I have ideas. I have so many ideas (not all good) that I will have to clone myself 100 times and each of us will have to live indefinitely to be able to see all of my ideas into fruition (look, another idea for a story). I have dreams of being an inventor, explorer, and archeologist, architect, my list goes on but you get the idea (look, another story idea). I guess I am interested in so many things I “see” stories everywhere.

Dani: Which of your books is your favourite?

Jacque: Each has been my favorite as I worked on it, but can I say “Anzac” even though I haven’t finished illustrating it yet and I don’t have a contract for it? I am in love with the main character and what happens to him. It is the story of a little goat; he is a prize in a Two-Up game. All he wants is to be loved by his new family, he tries various ways to win them over with no success until a butcher arrives and takes a fancy to him. It is one of those stories that has been with me a long time and has become part of me. I am considering self-publishing this one as I know I could do a fair job of it. The agents that have seen it have all loved it but it “wasn’t for them as it is so Australian”. Also time wise I think I should do it myself, next April 25th (2015) is the 100th anniversary of ANZAC Day (Australia and New Zealand Army Corps – day of commemoration for the fallen). It is probably Australia’s most important national occasion, everything stops, nothing is open, but the streets are filled with people watching the dawn service, the march of old Diggers (soldiers) servicemen and women, and school children wearing red poppies or the medals of past family members who fought for the country. Afterwards the crowds fill the local RSL halls and play Two-Up, share stories and drink beer.

Dani: I've heard you've had a lot of success with your books in schools and libraries, could you please tell us more about this?

Jacque: My first leap into writing was to write a ‘learn to read’ style book for my nephews who live far away in a city. It was to show them how their cousins (my children) live so differently to them surrounded by farms and machinery that work day and night. Not long after I wrote that, the Australian Government was making policy changes that were affecting many local farmers and many protests were held, farmers were losing their farms. I wanted to help, I knew that to engage the interest of city people protests were not the way. I thought if, as an x-city person, I put my money and effort where mouth was in aid of the farmers it might attract attention. I wrote and illustrated a ‘learn to read’ book for each kind of farm affected and self-published them donating the money raised to the farmers fighting fund. The government somehow saw these books (5 in total) and bought thousands of them to put into schools and libraries. They were evaluated by the Education Library Services and (phew) accepted. I have since discovered they are even used within Australia’s various university Education Faculties. Last year I was contacted by the Education Dept and asked if they could digitize my books so disabled children could access them, what an honour, I was so pleased. Then late last year I was approached by two professors who were creating the new National Curriculum and asked if I had anything new they could see. I put them in touch with the publisher of my latest picture book “The Bear Said Please” it is now part of a lesson plan for the National Curriculum. It sits alongside books by Jane Yolen, Mem Fox, Roald Dahl, Jackie French, Emily Gravatt and lots of other incredible authors and illustrators. I can’t believe it, I am still pinching myself.

Dani: Do you have any new book ideas that you're working on?

Jacque: As I said before I have a problem with ideas. What I need to do is finish things. Last year being part of 12 x 12 was the BEST thing I could have done for myself. I learned so much about writing picture books (who knew it could be so complicated - like an intricately woven doily on Granny’s sideboard) and the monthly check-ins kept me producing.

PiBoIdMo made me organize my ideas pile (mountain) a little better, I now have a dedicated handmade book that I add to daily. The best thing about joining 12 x12 I managed to polish many stories thanks to the critiques from those people (like you) that I have become friends with, you guys are without doubt the most generous, trustworthy, and … I could go on here. So far this year I haven’t spent as much time with my 12 x 12 buddies and I miss them terribly but I have been crazy busy with two solo art exhibitions, a city beautification project in a city far away, and the launch and promotion of my latest picture book “The Bear Said please”. There is as much hard work and creativity in promoting a new book as there is in actually producing it. For the moment, I am going to concentrate on “Anzac” as well as continue to write new stories and make more time to visit the forums on 12 x 12.



  1. Hi Dani, Thank you so much for the interview. I am really excited that you asked me:)

  2. Love that you use vacuuming to get rid of a funk, Jacque, and your doily metaphor. And thanks for getting Jacque to reveal some secrets, Dani.

  3. Thanks, Dani, for interviewing Jacqui. It is always nice to get to know all of you on a deeper level. Congratulations, Jacque, for making it to the National curriculum! Can't believe I haven't read your books yet. Running to look for them now!