Davina And The Crime Ring

Davina image

At one of the Early Harvest editorial meets, children’s book author Davina Bell and the young Early Harvest editors were brainstorming story ideas for issue six. Davina was one of the mentors on the project guiding the young editors on how to produce a literary magazine.

One of the young editors mentioned the ‘world’s worst detective’. Davina had an epiphany: how about the world’s worst detective who also happens to be a panda? She discussed it with the young editors and they loved it!

So it is that early harvest issue six carries the story Who Cut My Cheese? Diary of the World’s Worst Detective by Davina.

Davina is one of the founders of the Early Harvest project. Over the years, she has contributed to the project in different capacities: mentor, guest editor, contributor. This year, she acted both as a mentor to the young editorial board and contributor to the magazine.

We asked Davina what keeps her excited and involved in the project.

On her involvement with Early Harvest.

Back in 2008, I started an adult literary magazine called harvest. Its aim was to present writing as a beautiful object and build appreciation for the quality of writing. We published five issues before it closed.

During that time, I was approached by Lachlann (CEO of 100 Story Building) to create a kid’s version of harvest that focused on children’s writing and provided the same design and production value to their writing; a magazine that would say to children that your writing is as special and interesting as that of grown-ups.

I loved it and helped found the project and publish the first issue of early harvest. Since then I have been involved on-and-off with the project acting as a proofreader or guest editor intermittently.

On why a project like this is important.

Early Harvest gives children access to the ‘behind the scenes’ of publishing. It gives them the opportunity to see the processes that create a magazine and learn how attainable the vision of a magazine is.

This is especially important for children from non-English speaking backgrounds who may not have access to the opportunities, literature and books that other children have. This project engages them with the world of storytelling and narrative.

On what adults can learn through participation in Early Harvest.

You learn so much working with children. You learn children’s sensibilities, what appeals to them, what is fun for them, what do they respond to, what kind of stories and writing do children find interesting.

Working with this particular group reawakened in me the incredible joy of putting a literary magazine together. As publishing professionals, we tend to focus on the hard bits such as financing and deadlines. But the children were just so enthusiastic that it brought back to me the joy in the process of publishing.

On early harvest issue six.

It was a bold move by the young editors to choose Crime and Murder Mystery as the theme of this year’s early harvest. It is darker than the previous themes but it also lends itself to drama and intrigue.

On her own story idea.

At one of the editorial meetings, we discussed the need to maintain a balance between dark and light stories in the magazine, and that while the theme of our magazine was Crime and Murder Mystery, we also needed light-hearted and funny stories. So we brainstormed for lighter ideas and someone mentioned this character! I loved it and asked if I could use him for my story. That’s how Who Cut My Cheese? Diary of the World’s Worst Detective came about.

Last thoughts.

I can’t wait to see their faces when they get the magazine in their hands for the first time. Magic happens when children see their works in print for the first time. It is a privilege to be a part of that magic.


Order your copy of early harvest issue six

This year’s Early Harvest program was made possible thanks to support from Bank of Melbourne Neighbourhood Fund. The issue six launch was supported by Brimbank City Council.