A chat with children’s author Eva-Marie Welsh

Wet Tropics of North Queensland

Eva-Marie Welsh, is the writer and illustrator of seven children’s books: Bobby the Tree Kangaroo, Cassy’s Tale, Lyssie the Butterfly, Nipper the Crocodile, Paddles the Platypus, Shelly the Sea Turtle and Where is Croaky? Originally from Germany, she now lives at Mission Beach in the wet tropics of far North Queensland. Her books are written to entertain children, but also to inform people about the environment to help work towards its preservation.

Bob Irwin and Eva

[Conor] When did you first start drawing, and when did you first start publishing your work?

[Eva] My first attempt at painting was for an earlier book about Western Australia published in 2003, but the paintings didn’t work out. I started drawing again at the beginning of 2009, and then published Cassy’s Tale (2009) and Where is Croaky? (2010).

[Conor] Your website mentions you moved from Hamburg, Germany to Australia at age twenty-four. Did you travel or live anywhere else in Australia before settling in Queensland?

[Eva] I lived in Western Australia. First in Kununurra, Karratha, Geraldton, Perth and then Mandurah. Prior to Mission Beach, I lived in Bundaberg, Queensland.

[Conor] The environment in and around Hamburg, Germany is so different to the tropics of North Queensland. Do you think this could have contributed to the reason why you chose this particular landscape for the main backdrop for these books?

[Eva] Yes, I believe the fascination with the wet tropics in North Queensland has a lot to do with that I grew up in a totally different environment. Pictures of the Tropics as a young person made me feel, that it’s hard to believe, that the world could be so different somewhere else and I wanted to experience this.

[Conor] You mention that your intention behind your first book Cassy’s Tale was to educate people about the tropical bird the Cassowary. Is there a similar intent behind ‘Where is Croaky?’

[Eva] Yes, in a way Where is Croaky? is also meant to educate children about where frogs could hide and be found as well as the beautiful colour frogs can have. My goal also was to paint the frogs in all kinds of different funny positions to make children laugh. The positive response I got about my books then encouraged me to publish more books. Now I am currently working on a book about the Kookaburra, which will be published before Christmas.

[Conor] I read that you donated a percentage of your book royalties from Cassy’s Tale to cassowary conservation groups, did you do this with ‘Where is Croaky?’

[Eva] Yes, I did also donate money from my frog book. We had World Cassowary Day on 26 September 2015 at Mission Beach, which I also support.

[Conor] What are the different types of frogs painted in Where is Crocky?

[Eva] I painted the Orange-thighed Tree frog and the White–lipped Tree frog.

Interviewed by Conor Hutchison September, 2015.

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