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About auntyemily

Screenwriter (CBeebies), author of fiction and non fiction books, science communicator, storyteller and poet.

Recording an Audiobook and Album

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I recently recorded my first audiobook ‘Crime Squirrel Investigators: The Naughty Nut Thief’. We recorded a mini album of songs to go with it too! You can download the tracks for free and listen to samples online.

Recording an Audiobook

Alan Windram from the publishers, Little Door Books, brought along his studio recording equipment. We converted my artist studio into a recording studio. Alan coached me to make each line a bit more dramatic and we recorded a page at a time. Later, he edited the book and added sounds so the children know when to turn the pages.

Writing Songs

I wrote a song from the main character, Rosie the squirrel’s perspective. It’s got a catchy chorus with actions for the children to join in on – to make it fun. But I wanted to write about something meaningful too. I’m aware children experience a range of emotions just like we do, so I wanted to write a song I hoped they could identify with when they feel hurt or betrayed by a friend. It’s about the joy of friendship and then the shock when a friend lets you down. You miss them and you want them to be your friend again but you’re also unsure how real the friendship was because the other person was lying. It’s also about being a squirrel so there’s lots of lines about jumping around and playing hide and seek too. The chorus goes:

All the squirrels stick your paws up, don’t turn your nose up.

All the squirrels wave your tails, it’s time to go!

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Alan wrote a brilliant song about nuts and we worked together on the lyrics to make it into a song about the high point of the story – I wanted to make it more personal to the story and again, from Rosie’s perspective. So for example Alan had written:

Nuts, nuts, nuts, NUTS, nuts everywhere!

Nuts over here and nuts over there

And I changed it to:

Nuts, nuts, nuts, NUTS, nuts everywhere!

Nuts in my tail and nuts in my hair

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One of the suspects, Tappy the Woodpecker, is a great spotted woodpecker who hammers a nut until it explodes. I like writing spoken word and I think of a woodpecker as a rhythmic head banger of a bird, who’s a bit well.. badass. So I wrote a rap from Tappy’s perspective. He’s quite self indulgent in it. Here’s a line:

My beak is the key to break into the tree.

My beak is my sound and my sound is Tappy.

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Recording Songs

We recoded the music tracks at the Little Door Books Studio in Oban, the studio incudes two cats who are hiding:

 

 

I felt pretty nervous about recording vocals but Alan said when it’s for young children, it’s better to be clear and enthusiastic so they can hear the words. So don’t worry too much about being an operatic or a fancy singer. He said to imagine I’m Rosie the Squirrel singing. So I’m channelling my inner Squirrel on these tracks!

Here’s who did what:

  • Audiobook – written and read by Emily Dodd (me!)
  • Woodpecker Rap – written and rapped by Emily Dodd
  • Stick Your Paws Up – written and lead vocals by Emily Dodd. Alan Windram backing vocals and he plays every instrument – amazing!
  • Nuts – melody by Alan Windram. Lyrics Alan Windram and Emily Dodd. Lead vocals Emily Dodd. Instruments – Alan Windram.

The Launch

The audio book launched last month at New Lanark Book Festival. You can download the tracks for free here, along with the Crime Squirrel Investigators Audio Book! Or come to an event to see a live performance soon.

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Buy the Crime Squirrel Investigators physical book at all good book shops. It’s Illustrated by Giulia Cregut and published by Little Door Books.

 
 

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Crime Squirrel Investigators Book Launch

Thanks to everyone who came along to Waterstones to celebrate the launch of my new book Crime Squirrel Investigators: The Naughty Nut Thief, published by Little Door Books and illustrated by Giulia Cregut.

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Photographer extraordinaire Chris Scott came along too and he took some brilliant photos. Thank you Chris! Here’s the launch, in photo highlights…

It began with an introduction from publisher Alan Windram:

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Then I introduced myself and the Italian Illustrator, Giulia Cregut. I pointed to the banner because the two of us look quite similar to the two squirrels, see above! (yup, I’m the larger squirrel!)

Crime Squirrel Investigators launch

And then we set the scene for the story, guessing objects from the forest. If you’d like to hold a giant Ameican pine cone that’s bigger then your head… come to an event soon!

Crime Squirrel Investigators launch

We listened to the sound of the forest and then four volunteers helped make the smell of the forest, here’s one of them in action, wafting the pine oil with a fan…

Crime Squirrel Investigators launch

Then it was time for the story of the Naughty Nut Thief. Crime Squirrel Investigators Rosie and Charlie investigate three prime suspects after Rosie’s secret nut store is ransacked!

Crime Squirrel Investigators launchThen it was time for a red squirrel true or false quiz, make a ‘T’ or an ‘F’ with your body:

Crime Squirrel Investigators launch

Then Rosie the naughty water squirter popped out to meet everyone, I definately look like a squirrel here:

Crime Squirrel Investigators launch

Then my lovely friend Elspeth Murray came up to help Alan with actions. And we taught everyone the Beyoncé squirrel song, here we all are dancing!

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And more actions!

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Then we learnt more about one of the prime suspects, the wood mouse with a camouflage demonstration:

Crime Squirrel Investigators launch

Next it was time for hip-hop with the great spotted woodpecker rap, yep I really did rap as a woodpecker. Thankfully everyone else joined in with beats and actions:

Crime Squirrel Investigators launch

I was a bit scared about rapping (it’s new for me) but thankfully we had a professional drummer, Ruairdh Graham from Niteworks to keep us all in time! He also made me practice beforehand – thanks Ru!

Crime Squirrel Investigators launch

Then it was time for a couple more picture quizzes, look at the shell and guess who ate the nut. All based on the real nut munching animal science the book is based on:

NUT-HUNTINGAnd the finale was a song about nuts! Again thanks to Elspeth and Alan for actions:

Crime Squirrel Investigators launch

Then it was Q and A time, I got to sit down at last. This looks like a serious question:

Crime Squirrel Investigators launch And so does this:

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Hurrrah! It was all over:

Crime Squirrel Investigators launch

There were thankyous and the book signing:

Crime Squirrel Investigators launch

And that was it! I want to say a big thanks to Elspeth Murray for chairing and action support (she got flowers) and to Lindsey Fraser my agent from Fraser Ross Associates (she got flowers but she’d gone to the ballet by then!) and to Ruairdh Graham for beats (he got beer) and to Giulia Cregut for illustrations and to Alan Windram and Susan Windram at Little Door Books for publishing the book.

Thanks to my pals Amy, Anna, Jenny and Mel for serving drinks!

Thanks to Waterstones West End Edinburgh for hosting and to all you people who came, there were over 100 guests and we sold out – it meant so much to have your support for the book (and such enthusiastic actions!).

Crime Squirrel Investigators launch

Thank you to Chris Scott for taking these photos. I dedicated Ollie and the Otter to Chris because he encourages so many with his brilliant pictures. If you enjoyed these photographs, you might like the Can’t-Dance-Cameron book launch photos or The Grouse and the Mouse book launch photos

If you would like a Crime Squirrel Investigators event at your school or book festival, you can apply for Live Literature funding from the Scottish Book Trust here and find my author profile here

 

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Art for Sale

The average wage for a published author in the UK is 10k a year. I live off events mostly, it’s hard to manage and even if I sell LOADS of books I just get pence per book. Some books I’ve written were for a flat fee, so however many sell around the world, I get nothing.

I love art and I work in an art studios in Edinburgh, Coburg House. Coburg House has a shop, it’s open every weekend 11 – 4pm. I had the idea – why don’t I try to sell some of my art?

I choose five pieces with help from the artists at Coburg. I comissioned Javier Ternero, the picture framer to mount and wrap the pieces. They looked so much better mounted. Then I posted a picture on instagram of a collage I’d created, just before it went into the shop. Instagram is an image based storytelling app. This is the photo I shared:

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I didn’t realised how vulnerable it would feel – sharing something visual you’ve created and giving it value by selling it. What if noone buys it? What if people don’t like it? Thankfully I had some supportive comments on instagram. And then something wonderful happened…

The same night I posted the picture of my collage, I got a message from the new manager at the shop at Strutt’s North Mill. That’s the mill in the background of the picture. She said she loved it and wanted to sell it in the Mill shop in Derbyshire. She asked if I had any other prints too. It was such an encouragement. So then, instead of selling the original in the Coburg House shop, I got the original made into prints with Edinburgh Arts. They mount and wrap them too. Here’s the wrapped print:

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I was amazed when I saw it – the prints looked like collages – they even looked like they were made from ripped newspaper. They were delivered to the mill by a friend who happened to be driving down that way and they are available in the shop there to buy, along with the original.

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My other pieces (originals) are still at Coburg House Shop in Edinburgh for one more weekend, this coming weekend. Just in case you wanted to buy them!

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After this weekend they will be heading down to the Mill shop to join the other pieces for sale there. Let’s hope somebody buys them!

Just to let you know, Coburg House in Ediburgh has an open studios weekend coming up, I totally reccomend going. It’s the weekend of 27th and 28th July. There are 80 artist on four floors. Fine art, jewellry, textiles are more. I sadly won’t be there. But you should go! Please also go to the shop this weekend and buy my work! 

 
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Posted by on July 17, 2019 in illustration

 

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Bologna Children’s Book Fair

Last week I went to Italy and met Giulia Cregut. She’s the Italian illustrator for my new book ‘Crime Squirrel Investigators the Naughty Nut Thief’. Here we are:

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Little Door Books found Giulia’s lovely illustrations at Bologna Book Fair here, a year ago:

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It’s called ‘The Wall’. It’s actually several walls where illustrators from all over the world put up posters and leave contact details. That way, people like Alan and Susan from Little Door Books and this random man can find them.

Alan and Susan were looking for an illustrator to match the Naughty Nut Thief text from me, they found Giulia’s work and a year later… we have a book!

Here we are showing off that book by Giulia’s poster that got her the job:

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I found the book fair quite overwhelming, it’s huge. It’s the biggest children’s book fair in the world. A book fair is different to a book festival although my Mum uses the titles interchangeably when she’s usally referring to book festivals.

For clarification, book festivals are places where the public come to see authors and illustrators do book related events. Book fairs are where industry professionals come to do business. Publishers, agents, rights people – it’s a very different ball game. They both include books but that’s it.

This is the Publishing Scotland Stand, Little Door Books and the other Scottish Publishers displayed a selection of their books and did meetings:

20190412_160953To give you an idea of scale, there are over 1000 stands like this one with publishers from all over the world. I felt like a very small person in a very big industry! I wondered around and took photos of the illustrations I found inspirational, here are just a few of many that stood out to me:

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Feeling somewhat overwhelmed, I drunk coffee and consumed bread based products. This is the face of a person who’s eaten croissants, pizza, Panini and Bolognese bread (yep – that’s a thing) for 3 days:

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There aren’t many authors at the fair but Publishing Ireland had a party so I got to meet Chris Haughton, he was really nice:

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Bologna is a UNESCO city of music and the oldest university town. It’s also famous for its meat. Hence the sausage chandelier in an eatery I visited with Little Door Books:

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And our very lovely food, with more bread:

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If you would like to read Crime Squirrel Investigators The Naughty Nut Thief, you can on 1st May when it gets published. Or come to the launch on 2nd May at Waterstones, Edinburgh. With woodpecker hiphop, science, songs and a water squirting squirrel. Get your tickets here.

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Thanks to Imago for the chance to visit Bologna (Gill) and a non bread based meal (Simon). Thanks to Little Door Books and Giulia for being yourselves. And to Lindsey Fraser for support from afar. 

Pre-order Crime Squirrel Investigators: The Naughty Nut Thief from all good book stores.

 
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Posted by on April 12, 2019 in Events, illustration, nature, Writing

 

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CSI: The Naughty Nut Thief Cover Reveal

I’m super excited to reveal the front cover of my soon to be published book!

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It’s beautifully illustrated by Italian illustrator Giulia Cregut and published by Little Door Books on the 1st May 2019.

Rosie’s secret hazelnut store has been ransacked and her best friend Charlie agrees to help her to find the naughty nut thief. The crime squirrel investigators only have left-over nutshells as a clue, so they watch the different ways the three main suspects eat hazelnuts to try to solve the crime. Help the two squirrels discover the naughty nut thief and learn about the different ways animals eat nuts along the way!

I hear I’ll get advance copies of the book any day now (so excited!) and I’m all set to record the audio book in a couple of weeks. You’ll be invited to the book launch in Edinburgh in May. It will include water squirting squirrels, science and songs!

If you can’t make that I’ll be at festivals and events throughout the year so you’ll hopefully see me and the squirrels soon!

Crime Squirrel Investigators: The Naughty Nut Thief can be pre-ordered now from all good book stores.

UPDATE: Get tickets to the book launch on 2nd May here.

 

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DK Find Out: Energy

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Just a quick blog to let you know I’ve got a new book out this month!

DK Find Out: Energy is all about Energy (no surprize there!) and it’s for 6 – 9 year olds. Here are a couple of inside spreads:

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To see the rest of it, buy it or order it from your local library!

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If you like science you might want to come to see me at this year’s Edinburgh International Book Festival. On the 11th August I’m doing an event called ‘Powerful Forces’ for age 7 – 10 years. It’s all about volcanoes, tsunamis and wind. Get tickets here.

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Posted by on July 30, 2018 in Education, Science, Writing

 

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Tunneling Under the Forth

AlistairMoore

I recently worked with two brilliant men, Rab McKenzie and Alistair Moore to help them write and share their mining memories. I’m really excited to share them with you here…

Tunnelling Under the Forth
There are three iconic bridges crossing the Firth of Forth, between Edinburgh on the south side and Fife on the north side. But did you know that deep beneath the Firth of Forth is a mining tunnel that crosses over too? Alistair Moore is the chartered mining surveyor responsible for making two tunnels meet in the middle, back in the sixties before we had GPS. Here’s how he did it:

Press play above or click here to watch on YouTube.

The Valleyfield Colliery Disaster

In 1939 there was a mining disaster at Valleyfield Colliery that claimed 39 lives. Tragically it could have been prevented. Robert McKenzie shares what happened using his extensive research on the disaster, he says mining is in his blood. His story commemorates the lives that were lost:

Press play above or click here to watch on YouTube.

Digital Stories

Digital stories are true stories that last 1 to 3 minutes. They’re first person and in the story makers own voice with still images or video over a story sound track.

I worked with Rab and Alistair over several workshops while they crafted and shaped their stories. They also chose images and I recorded their voices and put everything together in these YouTube videos.

We also had help from Kirsty McAlister at the Inner Forth Landscape Initiative.

Earlier in the project, I worked with primary school children, their stories were factual but we broke the rules when they used their imagination and told the story from the perspectives of pit ponies and canaries!

You can read more about that part of the project here.

Other Projects
If you’re interested in digital stories and local history, you might like some of the other projects I’ve worked on, just click on the links below.

Working with the Arnol Blackhouse and children on the Isle of Lewis to share stories from the Blackhouse (including a story told by a chicken and a piece of peat!)

Working with Trinity House Maritime Museum to share maritime memories of Leith and Newhaven

Working with the Govan Reminiscence Group and Britain from Above to create memories from Govan

 
 

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