Children’s classic comes to life

Mem Fox and Jane Covernton on Editors and Authors in Conversation.

In the first of the Editors and Authors in Conversation podcast series, hosted by IPEd and BWF, author Mem Fox, who penned the classic children’s book Possum Magic in 1983, joined Jane Covernton, the editor and publisher who helped it come to life.

Fox wrote the story as part of her degree in creative writing, and was assigned the task to prove just how difficult writing a children’s book can be.

Possum Magic was subjected to a great deal of rejection before being picked up by Omnibus Books, the publishing house co-founded by Covernton.

In the interview, we learn about the many forms that Possum Magic took before settling into the now iconic story. The book was originally titled Hush the Invisible Mouse before Omnibus requested switching the mice to possums to provide originality and to lean into the Australian theme.

Covernton encouraged and guided Fox through the process of shortening the book and adding a lyrical, rhythmic element to the story.

They describe the final stage of editing as having a collaborative atmosphere, spent at the table together in a wonderful spirit of camaraderie, respect and collegiality.

Authors and Editors in Conversation is a series of 10 Zoom sessions of 45–55 minutes, in which editors and authors chat about their relationship and the editing process.

The series is released monthly; see booking details for individual sessions.

The series is sponsored by the Copyright Agency Cultural Fund.

Copyright Agency Cultural Fund