COWBOY and BIRDBRAIN

Late delivery!

WOW!!! It’s nearly JUNE already!?! How did that even happen?!! One minute I’m pulling Christmas crackers with my paper-crowned kids while reading the same old bad jokes about undies and robbers (you know the one), the next I’m brushing their teeth like a madman after they polished off a year’s worth of chocolate in one sugar filled Easter Sunday, and now we’re hurtling out of control towards mid 2019, with 2020 just around the corner.

I feel like I failed before I even began this blog. But you know what, it doesn’t matter! We’re here now and that’s the main thing. So, let’s move on and talk about COWBOY AND BIRDBRAIN. If you have no idea who or what that is then go here and check out the trailer and book etc.

Things have been going really fast and a LOT has been happening! In August this year book number 2 of Cowboy and Birdbrain will be released. Book 1 was released in March 2019. It was April 2018 that we sent our first idea to Scholastic. From there it’s been an exciting roller coaster ride like something out of a dream or a movie. Let me tell you a bit about how this roller coaster began…

A Pirate is Born!

In 2017 I suggested to Adam Wallace (author extraordinaire, New York Times best seller and my good friend) that we get together and do some brainstorming to come up with some new ideas and see what we could create with our powers combined. We created a few different things, some that are still in production, but one of the main things we ran with was a pirate story about a pirate called Captain Catbeard.

The character of Catbeard was created from a conversation I had with friends about having a cat for a beard. My brain wouldn’t let it rest and it formed into a pirate captain. Taking this initial character idea Adam and I came up with other characters to go on his ship and the types of treasure hunting missions they would go on. After reveling in our genius for a while we both came back down to earth and went our separate ways, Adam to write a first draft of the first story and I to design all the characters and style of the book.

Early drawings of the pirate crew

Before long we had our pirate book series ready to set sail on its maiden pitch voyage. We showed it to one publisher, who liked it, but then, upon closer inspection, chose to walk the plank, deeming it too wacky and piratey. Too many pirates out in the publishing sea, it seemed, arrr.

Treasure Hunters!

Whilst readying ourselves to keel haul, which would have really hurt, I suddenly remembered there are other publishing islands in this vast blue yonder. So, we steered our pirate booties towards publisher number two. The island of Scholastic.

They too loved our ideas and concepts and even our wackiness, but pirates were just not trending at the moment, but they REALLY liked two of the support characters on the ship’s crew that we’d created.. a little bird that was a brain and a boy who was a cow.. or is it a cow who’s a boy… anyway, they liked these guys and said, “Boys, we like the cut of your jibs (that’s sailor talk for thinking you’re a bit of ok) and we like these two here (imagine them pointing to Birdbrain and Cowboy), can you come up with a totally new concept for a book series starring these two as the main characters?”

Turn the ship around!!

NOW, we could have held our ground here. We could have said “Heck no! It’s captain Catbeard or nothing, ARRRRR!” But we didn’t. We decided to have a crack at coming up with something new. It was a new challenge, and what’s life without problems to solve and challenges to, well, challenge us.

This led us to another intense brainstorming session, this time on my newly painted blackboard wall (see below). This made it fun and new and exciting.  We scribbled down anything we could think of until we hit on the idea of a delivery service. From there it opened an entire world of possibilities including delivering to a certain pirate with a certain cat for a beard ( That later became a bat for a beard due to someone else in the world having the exact same idea as me, unless it was the other way around, who knows, it doesn’t matter because we changed it! HA!) where was I? Oh yes delivering to a certain pirate in the middle of the ocean. Meaning we could still have our pirate book but it was in disguise as a Cowboy and Birdbrain book.

Book one was originally called ‘Don’t Say The P Word’. What could P stand for I wonder…

An IFFY delivery

Okay, so we have our new concept, then the madness ensues. I can’t stop drawing ideas and concepts for Cowboy and Birdbrain, Adam starts writing like a crazy person,(which is pretty much how he always writes), and within a couple of weeks we put together a pitch document for Cowboy and Birdbrain. And as they work for made up company: IFFY Deliveries I emailed it to the publisher via an official IFFY Deliveries mail order email that we mocked up to keep everything within a theme and to make it more fun, because A) why the heck not and B) It makes it more interesting and relates to what we are doing.

Early idea sketches

It wasn’t long before we were contacted with good news from the publisher. They loved it! Hooray! AND they want to publish it… IMMEDIATELY!!!! Meaning they wanted to get it started IMMEDIATELY!! Which meant tight deadlines and getting it ready for the beginning of the following year!! WHICH was very exciting.

Cowboy and Birdbrain mutiny!

Some how we pulled off the deadlines and Cowboy and Birdbrain book one was released in March 2019. They were the leading new book series for Book Club in 2019, Adam and myself became the ambassadors for Scholastic’s National Family Reading Month in May, and we were privileged to travel to Sydney Writers Festival to take part in the Storytellers Battle against Real Pigeons (LOVE Real Pigeons) legends Andrew McDonald and Ben Wood, (which we won, just quietly).

Sydney Writers Festival 2019

So, there you go. It’s been a massive few months of book store visits, festivals, school visits, presentations and TV and podcast appearances. It’s been a massive year, from the point of Cowboy and Birdbrain’s conception to now. Book 2 is out in August, hopefully more to come, AND an exciting NEW series by Adam Wallace and myself coming from Scholastic the beginning of next year. Keep an eye and ear out for that!! But for now, It’s fair to say we’re a little POOPed.

Book 2 Coming August 2019. Click the cover to Pre-Order.

Stay tuned for MORE!!!!!!