Michelle Morgan, Author, Illustrator, Environmentalist
and director of Snoop Creative
- September 2017
are such a multi-talented artist, illustrated and
author. What's your favourite types of projects?
I love having a lot of creative
scope in my projects. Its why I started to do my own
projects so I can let my imagination run wild and
challenge myself as an artist. That is what lead me
to writing Toby Turtle and the Underwater Crew. I
wanted my own project where I could draw and create
exactly how I saw it in my mind.
and how did you discover your artistic streak?
a very young age I had a big imagination. Illustration
and art work allows me to channel it into more productive
outlets. At school, Art was my favourite subject but
back then, in a small country town, there wasn't the
career avenues for creatives there are now. But as
they say, all roads lead to Rome, eventually anyway!
book 'Toby Turtle and the Underwater Crew' is wonderful.
Why did you decide to make this your first book, and
what's the reaction been like regarding combining
your important environmental themed story with the
never thought in a thousand years I would end up writing
and illustrating a children's book but it has been
such a wonderful ride and I loved every minute. I
initially painted an underwater scene with a happy
turtle in it and Toby Turtle grew from that. I knew
I wanted to center the story around Toby and while
I was on holiday I developed all the characters for
the underwater crew, the story came last. I put a
lot of thought into whether I wanted to write a story
that had a meaning or not. Initially I wanted to create
a pretend magical world for children because there
is so much going on in our current environment that
is very serious. I asked all the parents I knew if
they were more likely to buy a book for their children
if it had a message. There didn't seem to be much
consensus on that. When I started to write, the story
came quite easily and naturally. I think it's a culmination
of everything I have seen at some stage of life and
reaction has been great, children seem to connect
with the characters and love the story. Parents are
telling me their kids sat through the story enthralled
and love the colour-in at the end. Colour-in's were
my favourite thing to do when I was a kid so I had
to put one in the book. I did all the illustrations
on paper, I wanted to produce images that were authentic
and I think that has paid off because I get a lot
of comments on them. My Chinese translator developed
an affection for Paul Pufferfish and some of his story
was edited out, she was most upset!
What can you tell us regarding the continuation of
the Toby Turtle story, and do you think it will find
its way into classrooms, major library's and bookstores,
or media firms who work closely in the environmental
sector, or a combination of these elements?
next book will be about coral bleaching, unless I
come up with a better idea and change my mind! Seriously,
I've already written the draft for the next book and
I am looking forward to starting those illustrations.
The characters are so familiar to me now and there
will be a couple of new characters as well.
think every writer who has gone to the effort of writing
and publishing a book, which is a lengthy process,
wants to see their book succeed. I hope it does make
its way into schools and associations that can make
use of the story and message it holds. But, the way
the Underwater Crew save Toby Turtle is not exactly
scientific and I was worried how that would be perceived.
However, I can't have my lead character die a slow
and painful death which is what happens to Turtles
in real life! I hope I have put the message in a way
that children can understand and relate too, in a
more gentle and playful way.
did you decide to publish the book in multiple languages?
I had finished the illustrations and started formatting
I thought, we are such a multi-cultural country, Mandarin
and Spanish are the second most commonly used languages
(I think) so it would be worth spending a more money
now and being able to reach a larger audience. The
Mandarin and Spanish versions have English subtitles
for enhance learning. Although, I never knew that
there are different versions of Spanish, I ended up
with a great translator who did it in neutral Spanish.
It was really nice to share a part of the journey
with two lovely people.
do you most love about the water and nature?
in nature, whether it's the mountains, the bush or
the ocean, it relaxes and re-charges people. When
I was at high school I used to do a lot of mountain
climbing and bush walking with a group, we would sleep
on the side of a mountain or out in the bush under
the stars. I think having those kinds of experiences,
no matter how old you are, gives you an appreciation
of mother nature and all it holds. Additionally, how
important it is that we protect it for future generations.
Wouldn't it be a terrible thing if kids 15-20years
from now couldn't get to do the things we have done!
used to do a lot of scuba diving and the thing that
impressed me the most is that, it's a whole other
world down there and we really are the outsiders.
Every ecosystem on earth is connected, if one starts
to die it will directly affect us. Being human we
tend not to think about things we can't see but I
really hope children and their parents get another
view of the underwater world.
environmental and social awareness campaigns have
your worked on over the years?
did environmental studies at University, which was
quite an experience. The lecturers and students would
all disappear to go and demonstrate somewhere. I remember
they all went down to the big Franklin Dam protest
and others. I really admire people who have that kind
try to keep up with what is happening in current affairs,
the Great Barrier Reef coral bleaching, the Adani
mine for example and most recently Malcom Turnbull
winding back the national marine parks which is really
unbelievable. I am an advocate of leaving these marine
parks completely alone and limiting visitors to scientists
only, to allow the underwater world to regenerate
and grow again.
done research for the book, the amount of plastic
we use and the impact is phenomenal. Plastic never
degrades and a significant amount ends up in the ocean,
it breaks down, sea life ingests it and then it quite
possibly ends up on your plate. It has made look at
my own behavior and how much plastic I use. Banning
bags is really not enough, if you look at some of
the statistics it is very scary. Delhi for example
has banned all single use plastics, that included
plastic knives and forks etc and the amount of energy
used to produce 12 plastic bags could drive a car
for 1.6 kilometers! I am trying to work on ways I
can reduce my plastic consumption. There are lots
of causes I have an interest in but I am what you
would call a bit of a keyboard warrior.
of things and an eclectic array of people. The person
that lead me down the path to developing my creativity
and writing this book was Ice Cube. I was listening
to an interview with him after the success of Straight
Outa Compton and he said, 'find out what makes you
different then focus on that'! I thought about that
for a long time. There are lots of people who are
much better at art and illustration than I am, but
I thought, when I was little I had an over active
imagination. That must still be inside me somewhere
and once I started on the book it started to flow.
I think it's the story an illustration or piece of
art tells that captivates people. So, it was really
Ice cube that inspired Toby Turtle and the Underwater
your current projects?
am working on a range of greeting cards featuring
my illustrations, I have started the draft of the
next adventures of Toby Turtle and the Underwater
Crew, trying to get the eBook version of Toby done,
developing a shop on my website and I have another
book brewing based on my brother and I growing up
in Papua New Guinea.
did you come up with the business name Snoop Creative?
father used to call me snoop or snoopy after the cartoon
character because I was an inquisitive child, I would
listen in on conversations, snoop around in cupboards.
I had a long list of possible names but this one resonated
with me the most and I think it's a bit different
and he passed away a long time ago so it's in honor
of him. I have started the process of trademarking
it because I have seen a few imitators online and
I want to protect it.
do you consider to be some of your career highlights
terms of my creative career, I think completing this
book has been the highlight. It took me a year and
a half end to end to complete. The illustrations are
all on paper and they took me 6-7months in between
temp jobs. Then figuring out the world of publishing
on demand, formatting, finding the translators, I
am really pleased with the way it has come out.
Has the internet been mainly a positive or not for
your line of business? Explain....
inventor of the internet wanted it to connect people
and make information more accessible so in terms of
this, it's positive. But having a website, maintaining
social media accounts it's a lot of hard work for
small businesses. Getting your message heard above
all the noise is very difficult. One thing I like
about the internet is, distance is not so much of
an issue anymore, you can keep up with friends interstate
and overseas, see their photographs and what they
are doing. I am not sure what we would all do without
you prefer Facebook or Instagram, or do you just utilise
both in basically the same way?
I prefer Instagram because its
more visual and find it more positive than Facebook.
I am still at the stage of building my audience. It
could do your head in if you think about it too much!
you done any of the Meet The Author type book talks
at this stage?
would love to do one so if shops, schools or libraries
are interested please contact me.
do you think of the idea to transform you book story
into an animated cartoon or children's television
series? I thought of this idea as education combined
with entertainment and learning can be powerful.
have thought about animating it, it would be awesome.
All my characters have very distinct personalities
and seeing them come a life would be incredible. I
would love that! It is a definite possibility.
What do you most like about Maroubra and the Eastern
I love about Maroubra is, it's the only place I have
ever lived where people say hello to you walking down
the street. I love the surfers that are out there
every morning no matter how cold it is and the community
feeling. People interact and are genuine. I have never
seen that anywhere else I have lived and I have lived
in a lot of places.
would you like to mainly focus the rest of your career
would love to have a financially viable career doing
what I do now. Creating stories and books that bring
happiness to those who read them. My goal is also
do illustrations on products such as greeting cards,
phone covers, scarves, a little piece of art that
tells a story and sell them on my website.
can people get a copy of Toby Turtle and the Underwater
Turtle and the Underwater Crew is available in English,
Spanish and Mandarin and can be purchased from:
Turtle and the Underwater Crew