by Kim Kelly

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Our Millthorpe Pop-Up is a celebration of Australian writing, our books all gathering together in a little gold-rush era village with stories whispering from every wild colonial verandah post. So tell us, Lorena, how has your Australianness, or your experience of Australia, inspired or influenced your illustration explorations?

My local landscape (around Castlemaine, Victoria) has been vital to my illustration process. I’ve written more extensively about it here, but essentially, details of the landscape are what make every one of my illustrations. I photograph leaves, sticks, feathers, bones that I find in my garden and the surrounding bush, and piece them together in Photoshop to build up montaged photographic illustrations.

I mostly illustrate fairy tales, myths and folktales, and these are predominantly European; but my local landscape makes up every single one. In Vasilisa the Wise and Other Tales of Brave Young Women, our collection of tales retold and illustrated by two Australian women and published by an Australian publisher, I felt it important to let the Australian landscape be a strong part of the illustrations. I didn’t hide the fact that the deep-dark forests were populated by Eucalyptus and native ferns and fungi.

Please tell us about the wonderful tales you’ll be bringing to the Millthorpe Pop-Up from far and wide.

VASILISA THE WISE AND OTHER TALES OF BRAVE YOUNG WOMEN v2 (1)Vasilisa the Wise and Other Tales of Brave Young Women is a powerful collection of fairy tales where girls and women set out on their own adventures, fight their own fights, and rescue a handsome prince or two along the way. Retold by Kate Forsyth, they are tales that have long existed, but were silenced and pushed to the wayside to make room for the more popular “Disney” tales. We’re bringing them back.

What’s your favourite Australian story – be it a novel, a film, or legend? And why do you love it?

I can’t resist Australian children’s books – some from my youth, some from my daughters’: The Enchanted Forest, Possum Magic, The Eleventh Hour, Where is the Green Sheep, Diary of a Wombat, The Bunyip of Berkeley’s Creek… They’ll always be a comfort to read, especially to somebody else.

What a beautiful thought, Lorena. Now, describe the view from your storytelling window today.

Not glamourous, I’m afraid. I have a high window above my computer that looks up into a cobwebbed veranda. Hanging from a beam is a bird cage we bought years ago for a fancy dress party – with the bottom cut out of it, so it could be worn like a helmet!

If you were to write the Great Australian Novel, where might you begin?

From an illustrator’s point of view I would love to see more illustrated novels! Once popular, but now virtually never heard of. So if anyone has a great Australian novel they’d like illustrated, I’m your gal.

Fabulous! I might have to give that some thought. In the meantime, let’s take a tasty break. Fortunately, Millthorpe has plenty of options, from country pub to hatted restaurant, and several gorgeous cafes. So what’s your yen? Coffee and cake? Beer and chips? Coq au vin and Pinot Grigio?  And while we’re here, which Australian author would you like to invite to your table?

Cold champagne and a fiery curry for me please. I was lucky enough to have Kate Forsyth, Cate Kennedy, Carmel Bird, Martine Murray and Juliet O’Conor around our dinner table about a year ago. I don’t think I could ask for more. And yes, there was plenty of champagne!

What an excellent table – and cheers to that! Thanks for bringing your story love to Millthorpe.


Find out more about Lorena Carrington here