I held my breath during the first few weeks of COVID-19 isolation, because life as I knew it had changed.

While it was a chaotic, frustrating and heartbreaking time for all of us, we’ve begun to adapt. Thanks to determined, forward thinkers businesses, industries and people have come up with new ways of doing things.

The publishing and book-selling world also shifted as the impact of COVID-19 spread. Author tours, literary festivals and school visits were cancelled. Book stores closed. Publishers postponed book releases.

Yes, books stores changed their methods, and authors and illustrators embraced the new world of Zoom and Teams. But despite the innovations, those all-important bookshop appearances and books signings couldn’t happen.

In May Magabala Books released  Respect, a picture book I co-wrote with Aunty Fay Muir and Lisa Kennedy illustrated beautifully. Suddenly Aunty Fay, Lisa, Magabala and I were trying to navigate this new publishing world.

How did we celebrate and publicise our beautiful book?

That got me thinking. I began pondering how I could support not only Respect, but other new releases.

Could I use my writing skills? My education experience? Then it hit me – I could use my radio experience. I spent nearly 20 years working in commercial and ABC radio, interviewing Olympians, actors, business people, musicians and the toughest of them all, politicians.

I love interviewing.  I love the connection, the treasures unearthed and listening to other’s experiences and stories.

I could embrace technology at home and interview creators via Zoom.

So, after a lot of trial and error and not a small amount of very colourful language, I worked out the technology enough to be able to put out feelers to a handful of creators.

I was overwhelmed by the response, and so Portable Magic began.

The title comes from a Stephen King quote in one of my favourite books about the craft of writing. King’s concise and clever On Writing.

“Books are a kind of portable magic.”

It says it all, doesn’t it? Books open us up to new worlds and interviews will open us up to creators’ worlds.

Each week, I’ll chat to an author or illustrator about their work, influences and new releases. Each interview will be as unique as the creator.

Portable Magic’s first series will run for 12 videos, with the interviews available on my YouTube Channel, Sue Lawson, Author.

If the response is good, there will be another 12 later in the year.

So, with much pleasure, here is the first Portable Magic interview – Picture book author Kaye Baillie talking about her writing life, and celebrating today’s launch of her latest picture book, The Friendly Games.