IN bookstores and games shops across the world you may have seen boxes of cards with The Art of Conversation on the cover.
The series of cards are award-winning discussion starters developed in Bendigo by Louise Howland and Keith Lamb.
It was a long time ago before the internet existed when the duo came up with the idea Ms Howland said.
“At first, we thought it was a good book idea so we sent it off to Harper Collins,” she said.
“It was before the internet, and it was before mainstream publishing in China, so Keith and I messed around with both book and card type formats and Harper Collins really liked the card format.”
Unfortunately, the deal fell over at the last hurdle when Harper Collins decided the cost of producing the cards was too high.
Ms Howland said the pair kept pushing forward, publishing the cards themselves before sourcing local and overseas distribution.
“We found a great games distributor in Australia,” she said. “Then I went over to book fairs in both the UK and the US and attempted to find distribution for it, which I did and it just developed.
“But then because it was selling well in the US, they came back and said, ‘When’s the next one coming out?’”
This has led to several new releases over the years including The Art of Travel Conversation as well as food, couples, and rock‘n’roll titles.
The Art of Children’s Conversation is one title Ms Howland remembers fondly.
“I’m a psych nurse,” she said. “I’m an English teacher and I did a Masters in Life Writing, Image, Sound and Text so this was my background, and I was interested in the conversations we had with our children.
“That sit-down dinner where you talk and where you’re listening is perhaps something that doesn’t happen as much as it used to. So, in a sense, The Art of Children’s Conversation is to give people a way to recreate that.”
The Art of Conversation and its varying versions have gone on to be sold across the world and used in ways the creators are proud of Ms Howland said.
“We really are thrilled,’ she said. “It’s gone all sorts of places. They’re used in teaching and in mentoring programs.
“They are also used for improving children’s communication skills as well as in anti-bullying programs at schools.”