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Sharks, zoos, garbage: Hunter authors riding wave of success

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There’s a Shark in the Loo, Who is at the Zoo?, and Garbage Guts – while they might sound strange, these are the titles of books by two Hunter authors whose paths share some very strange correlations.

Sharon J Boyce and Emily S Smith first met more than six years ago at the Children’s Writing Group run by the Hunter Writers Centre.

The pair have since been on a writing journey that in a fortnight will lead to the joint launch of their third books with Larrikin House.

On Saturday 26 March, the duo will celebrate the release of There’s a Shark at my School and Kora Kerplunk’s Travelling Tongue.

Both agree the date will bring to fruition a collection of rhymes, now sealed in friendship.

“It really has been quite surreal,” says Smith. 

“Sharon joined the HWC Children’s Writers Group a short time after me and we hit it off. We are both big fans of rhyme and ridiculous humour, so we always appreciated one another’s writing styles. 

“Then, in 2017, we shared a hotel room at the first writing festival we ever attended, Kid Lit Vic.

“It’s so strange to think that since then, our author journeys have kind of run parallel, from getting our first contracts with Larrikin House in the same month, to having three books signed with Larrikin, and now launching our third books together. 

“It’s so great to have a friend who knows exactly what I’m experiencing, and to share the ups and downs with her.”

Both Boyce and Smith say one of the greatest challenges they faced was releasing a book during a global pandemic.

“It was beyond exciting anticipating the release of my first book and my mind was swimming with ideas for a fun-filled book launch that would help promote my book out into the world. Then the first lockdown happened,” said Boyce.

Despite that, There’s a Shark in the Loo still sold well and was the third highest retail seller that year for Larrikin. 

Who is at the Zoo? released later that same year also experienced good sales, despite neither having a book signing launch. 

In fact, even Sarah Ferguson, the Duchess of York, read both authors’ books on her hugely popular YouTube channel, Storytime with Fergie and Friends. 

And on top of this, both Boyce and Smith have had their books translated into Auslan for storytelling videos in a project that was facilitated by the Hunter Writers’ Centre and both authors had their books picked up by publishers overseas, with Smith’s Garbage Guts being translated into Korean for the South Korean market, and Boyce’s Who is at the Zoo? being published in the US.

“If someone had said to Sharon and me, way back in 2016 when we first began our foray into writing for children, that we’d be published by the same publisher, have both of our books read by Fergie, and that we’d we be celebrating the launch of our third books during a global pandemic, I would have thought they were nuts,” says Smith.

“But, I’m so glad it happened this way. I can’t wait to get out there and share our books with the world.”

The launch of There’s a Shark at my School and Kora Kerplunk’s Travelling Tongue will take place from 10.30am -12.30pm at Unit 1, 10 Pipeclay Avenue, Thornton on Saturday 26 March. 

There will be games, craft, prizes, and even an interview with Seymour the Shark! 

Both authors will also share their stories and be available to sign copies of their books on the day. 

Harry Hartog’s Green Hills is the official booksellers for both.

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