"My wife and I also teamed up with some close friends to professionally produce and write a number of musicals that were performed by a number of schools, as well as theatre groups," Mark tells me. "Songs are really poetry set to music and when that's combined with visual imagery and /or movement, sets and props, it is such a powerful form of storytelling and communication. It's no coincidence that a number of my picture books have associated songs and a strong musical rhythm in their structure."
Mark left teaching for a time to complete his PhD on the poetics of language, verse and children's rhyme. Since then he has returned to teaching, he has worked with various universities on their teacher education programs, and he has worked with Pearson Education Australia, one of the world's largest publishing companies. He then began to write and publish his own books.
Language has always been Mark's inspiration for writing. "Repetitive, rhymical word play and alliterative phrases fill my subconscious at the oddest of times and these phrases often result in ideas for poetry, songs, books and writing projects," he says. "I'm also extremely fascinated by old tales, stories and legends; so unearthing and reconnecting with myths and folkloric tales is a strong part of my ongoing interest in the power of story. Occasionally, though, real life events provide some inspiration and that was certainly the case with The Gobbling Tree."
The Dingle Dangle Jungle
The Dingle Dangle Jungle is Mark's latest children's book, published by Ford Street Publishing. The Dingle Dangle Jungle is a fun rollicking romp through the Amazonian forest, but it has a serious message for children too.
"Many of my books feature animals or the natural environment," Mark explains. "The links to learning about the importance of nature and ecosystems are clear with this title; and I have been delighted that we have been able to make a real contribution to community awareness of the diversity of animals in the Amazon jungle and by default, the need to protect the fragility of our world's rainforests and creatures."