How I came to write this book,

Annette M Schneider


    When I was in primary school, I held an art exhibition in the lounge room and invited my family and the neighbours. It was a sell-out at 5 cents a painting, mostly to Mum & Dad. My family were creative and busy. My father built unique houses with fine stone and timber-work. He invented and made amazing things, including toys. Mum sewed stylish clothes and studied pottery, calligraphy and leather-work. My big sister was into painting, sculpture and music while my brother read philosophy books and pulled apart vintage motorcycles. I loved reading books, especially the illustrated ones. The Narnia series illustrated by Pauline Baynes were my favourites. I would read or listen to really loud music in the afternoons after school; sometimes I would take my art gear out into the garden and paint the flowers.

    I dropped out of high-school art because the teachers had so many opinions about ‘good’ and ‘bad’ art. I wanted more freedom to develop my own style. When I left school I moved to Sydney with my partner, Kate, and studied Graphic Design at Randwick Tafe. In commercial art nothing is bad, anything is acceptable as long as there is a market for it. I learnt many classical art skills while studying graphic design. It was before computer art became mainstream and the teachers had a wonderful depth of traditional knowledge. 

    My artwork can be loose and abstract or tight and decorative, depending on my mood. It was a challenge to keep the pictures matching throughout Mobile Magic. Art makes me feel relaxed and satisfied, but anything can be art, as long as it’s creative. I enjoy life-drawing, cooking, sculpture, textiles, ceramics, jewellery, mask-making, photography, woodcarving, essay writing, bricklaying, wire-weaving, sign-writing and sewing. A few years ago I entered in every section of the Craft Expo at our local show, just for the challenge.

    This book, Mobile Magic, has been under construction for almost six years. It took a couple of years to write, a couple of years to illustrate and the rest in trying to get it published. This has been my first attempt at writing fiction, although the tutors who had to mark my essays throughout nine years of higher education would probably disagree with that as I have not written a straight-forward essay in my life. It is much more fun to be cheeky and play the devil’s advocate.

    While I lived in Sydney, I worked for a while in an art studio and also did a lot of small jobs like T-shirt and poster design for groups and community events, including the hot-pink poster for the 1980 G & L Mardi Gras. I also completed two thirds of an Arts degree at the University of NSW, studying all my favourite subjects like The History and Philosophy of Science, Film Studies and Gastronomy. After a funny Grand Tour of Europe I started building a house in the country.

    When the house was almost finished and I had two children up and running, I decided it was time for me to go to Art School and see what all this ‘good’ and ‘bad’ art stuff was about. I completed the four year Fine Arts Degree at the Canberra School of Art / ANU in 2000. My major was in painting and I took a sub-major in hot-glass. I enjoyed the practical art, but didn’t always agree with the teachers. My advice to young artists is, forget planning for the perfect result - that just leads to inactivity and disappointment. Just do a lot of of the art you enjoy - your ‘masterpieces’ will come when you are skilled enough and the time is right. A couple of years after finishing my degree, I did a Diploma of Education at the University of Canberra.

    I have lived on a farm in a valley south of Canberra with my partner Kate, who is a horse-breaker and riding instructor, since 1987. We live with our two teenaged children, a dog called Iveco, four indoor cats (Kiwi, Possum, Wombat and Wolf), two donkeys, six sheep, chooks, rabbits, ducks, a Galah, an alarmingly variable number of goldfish and too many horses. Since moving to the country I have sold and exhibited my art in settings as varied as the National Folk Festival and Canberra Contemporary Art Space.

    I have had several solo exhibitions and been involved in many group exhibitions, in places such as the Bungendore Woodworks Gallery, Sydney University Tin Shed Gallery, Sydney’s Tap Gallery, ANU Gallery, Goulburn Regional Art Gallery, Canberra Museum and Art Gallery and the Q Gallery. I sell a lot of my artwork online and I also enter a lot of shows and art competitions. I have entered the Archibald Prize for the last two years. My 2009 portrait was of the news reader, Meredith Griffiths and the breakfast team of Robbie, Marieke and the Doctor - painted from life in the JJJ studios.

    I have exhibited almost 40 works in the Queanbeyan Art Society monthly exhibitions. I have designed cover art for the fantasy books, The Pegasus Touch and The Scales by Kaaren Sutcliffe and illustrated books for friends who have released them on a small, local scale - The Greedy King by Joseph Banda, Rhymes Without Reason by Keith Jones, Black Jack by Maureen Burdett and Threadbare Fred Bear by Geoffrey Hugh Miller. These books inspired me to write and illustrate my own book.

    Writing Mobile Magic was a very intense business. I worked hard to make it as good as I could possibly get it, while trying not to be over critical towards it. I became really involved with and fond of my characters and they ended up acting in ways that surprised even me. I went over and over the story, trying to edit all the glitches, as well as getting professional editing and reading it out loud to my family. I just hope that you have enjoyed my book as much as I enjoyed creating it.

    If you would like to find out more about my artwork and other projects or to buy an autographed book, browse this website and take a look at my galleries and my store. I will be putting games and notes about Mobile Magic on the website and updating it with interesting photos, movies, animation and snippets of our life in the country as well as my favourite links and reviews. Feel free to email me through this website and let me know what you think of Mobile Magic. I will also be available as a speaker for schools or other interested groups to talk about my writing or demonstrate my art techniques.