Spotlight | Emma Mactaggart, Boogie Books
a peek into the world of A professional enthusiast
emma mactaggart bubbles over with enthusiasm and generosity.
Always the first to shine the light on others — you’ll see that plenty below — Emma is always supporting causes, spreading joy and campaigning for things that matter.
We sat down with Emma as she was trying to record a podcast, and distracted her by asking about her ideal weekend, what she’s working on, and how she came to be in Toowoomba in the first place.
Name: Emma Mactaggart
Occupation: mother, writer, publisher
Known For: her extraordinary generosity and community spirit
Local since: 1998
First things first: why Toowoomba?
We bought a business here in 1998 and left an incredible community behind to pursue an opportunity. Through the tears, I went to the first community event that popped up – and it happened to be the Carnival of Flowers Parade, with Town Crier Ralph Cockle leading. Ralph had been the Town Crier in Glen Innes before he moved to Toowoomba, so I fell sobbing into his arms, so relieved I had found the ‘heart’ of the community so quickly.
What is Boogie Books?
Everything I do from a business perspective is to simply support another idea! My publishing business Boogie Books supports my writing and books created by children whom I mentor. No one publishes children’s picture books created by children for children on this scale and we are the largest publishers on Amazon in the world!
Child Writes is the program and methodology I have detailed and it is an online course, a program to deliver in workshop format to schools or community groups, and a format to create picture books for organisations that are fit for purpose for their own audience.
The Child Writes Fund is a registered charity that supports the workshops I can deliver to children who are in crisis; Love A Little Love is a distribution disruptor, as we pitch the idea of businesses purchasing bundles of books to gift to charities; International Read to Me Day is a campaign focussed on reiterating the importance of reading to children frequently and encouraging any book consumption is good for the book sales for the entire industry.
What have you learned about running a business in Toowoomba?
Given my entire business is heart driven and about what we can give to the community rather than take from it, I have to admit to receiving an incredible amount of support from individuals, from organisations (such as Toowoomba Chamber of Commerce and the Toowoomba Regional Council). Every time I am told by the broader industry outside of Toowoomba that my business model doesn’t work / it won’t make an income / you can’t have children writing, I revert to this incredible support and encouragement, and this has meant I have been able to persevere for 15 years!
What does an average day look like for you?
I wish I had a typical day! I flip from one thing to another, trying to focus on one element, only to have an ‘idea’ that simply needs action / writing / introducing to someone else. It is typical of a creatives day in so far as it is a matter of juggling the ‘left brain’ activities, like accounting, banking, website management, social media, sales strategies, distribution, with the fabulous ‘right brain’ activities like writing the manifesto for a podcast, or outlining a new children’s picture book, or interviewing other creatives for a couple of non-fiction books I am working on, or mentoring others to bring their projects to fruition. And in the middle of that, there are schools to visit, community groups to engage with, and novels to ‘see’. Fortunately I have an amazing bookkeeper, a talented digital communications manager, a graphic designer who speaks my shorthand, a web developer who can wrangle newsletters and more, and recently, a communications/journalism student as an intern.
What does your ideal Toowoomba weekend look like?
Ha! It looks just like the week! That’s why I love my ‘work’ because it honestly is more like happily and productively spending just another day in the office. Last weekend I worked up illustrations created by children in a workshop at the Queensland Children’s Hospital School, wrote a couple of blogs on demand from my communications manager, read a book to review for ABC Southern Queensland Radio, went to a meeting of Toowoomba Wordsmiths (a group I started 8 years ago, but it has been in abeyance for a couple of years), puddled around the Farmers Markets and cooked a lovely slow meal, and went for a walk with a girlfriend…
To say ‘I paint, write, cook, shop, read and socialise’ pretty much sums up my life!
My perfect day would include a walk through The Palm Walk at the Ravensbourne National Park, then a coffee at The Woods followed by a story-stimulating visit to Crows Nest History Museum (don’t forget to buy a bottle of Crows Nest Soft Drink from the office!). Then I’d head to lunch at the Hidden Cucina before heading home, completely replete, to then read all afternoon.
Only a Toowoomba local would know…
How amazing the escarpment walks and National Parks truly are.
FAVOURITE WEEKEND SPOT TO:
PERK UP: You know you are alive if you boot-pack down the escarpment on one of the many amazing trails. For a moment you get lost in the tranquility, then you realise you need to dig deep to get back up that hill again!
RELAX: The Japanense Gardens if you are feeling in need of a zen moment. If you really want to take this experience to another level, take Annabelle Hart with you as your own personal yogi!
EAT: I am seriously in the zone with the tapas menu at The Hidden Cucina for a dash in, dash out dinner given the quality of the food is incredible. Know that you are wandering through a caravan park for what would be the most unlikely location for such amazingly reliably good food! For those special occasions though, Emeraude always is amazing. Simply scrolling through their instagram account is satiating, but given the meals actually do deliver on the visual promise, it is a ‘must visit’, especially considering the attention to the local sourced produce.
INDULGE: For me, a visit to the Toowoomba Regional Library is a moment in which I indulge, not because of borrowing MORE books, but the constant stream of amazing events the library hosts, and the stunningly relaxing space that is Civic Square, and then the short stroll to the Toowoomba Regional Art Gallery. Oh, and if you popped in to Phat’s after a visit to both, well there is another perfect day!
SHOP: I never am disappointed when I go on a mission to purchase at Harold’s Finishing Touches. Perfect for gifts for friends and those gifts that you surely need to reward yourself with!
CATCH UP: What is not to love about the cafe scene here at the moment! I purposely have all my meetings out of office, just so I can meet people in the engaging and inspiring spaces like Burrow, James Street Grocer, Sage and Butler – as well as stalwarts like the Parkhouse and Cafe Valetta. I love the city cafe’s like The Finch and Ground Up, (and the dose of street art that you also get) but if I am ripping myself away from my desk I only allow five minutes and these inter-suburban cafe’s mean easy parking and no traffic!
BE INSPIRED: You don’t go looking for stories at the Cobb + Co Museum; they find you! The calibre of the regularly changing exhibitions from Queensland Museums is always astounding. Oh, and the best bit: entry is free to locals.
Find out more about Emma’s work here.