PASS IT ON · Writing

Meet the writer – Heather Gallagher

Every week I like to feature an Australian writer and illustrator in PASS IT ON.

The illustrators’ interviews, once they have been featured in the ezine, are uploaded onto this blog.

The writers that I’ve interviewed don’t have a blog of their own so I thought I might upload their interviews here. I won’t be able to go back to the beginning but I hope to fill this space with interesting insights into some of our wonderful writers.

So here we go, please meet….

Heather Gallagher

This interview first appeared in PASS IN ON on Tuesday 26th April 2016 – issue 582

 

When did you know that you were a writer?

From the time I was about 8.

When did you first read your writing aloud or give it to someone to read and what was their reaction? How did it impact on you?

I was in Grade 4 and I’d written a whacky story about being trapped in a lift with a group of people. At the time I used to keep all sorts of weird stuff in my pockets. So in my story – I was the star, of course – I was able to throw stones at the window (of course lifts have windows – that’s a thing, right?) and smash it. Everyone was able to safely get out and I saved the day. My teacher Mrs Cunningham read this story out to the class and it was a big moment for me – it was when I decided to become a writer.

What and when was your first acceptance? How did you feel?

My first book acceptance was in 2012. We’d just got back from a family holiday and I was checking my emails. I remember seeing the title of my manuscript Ferret on the Loose in the header and thinking ‘here we go, another rejection.’ It took me a few seconds to realise that the email actually said ‘we’d love to publish your story’. I started screaming and running around the house. My family thought there was something seriously wrong. I could barely speak – I was ecstatic!

What is your favourite genre to write? Why?

I love writing crazy animal stories particularly for the 8 to 12 year old market.

How long have you been writing? And what have you written?

I began professionally writing as a journalist in the late 90s. But prior to that I’d written diaries, stories and poems. I wrote for the (now defunct) school magazines put out by Pearson Education. My first short story was published in Challenge magazine. Since then I have had a short story published in blackdog books Short & Scary anthology, Ferret (as mentioned above) and the picture book Happy Pants – Why is Mummy so sad? 

Of your own work – do you have a favourite? Why is it your favourite?

I have a soft-spot for Ferret because it had such a long genesis and was my first proper book. But I’m also loving The Great Ape Escape which is my current work-in-progress.

What is your favourite genre to read? Why?

I love middle grade novels because anything is possible.  That said, I also love reading YA because like the protagonists, I guess I’m still figuring out my place in the world.

Do you have a favourite author?

Road Dahl and currently, David Walliams. I also love Kate Di Camillo and Rebecca Stead.

Did/do you have any writing heroes or mentors?

Hazel Edwards mentored me during the Maurice Saxby mentorship. I have also received informal mentoring from some of the people I met through that mentorship, namely Helen Chamberlin and Kevin Burgemesetre. Claire Saxby and many members of the First Tuesday Book Group have also been very supportive and encouraging.

How do they encourage you?

Hazel gave me some great nuts and bolts advice on improving my picture book manuscripts. Helen and Kevin advised me during a tricky time with one of my manuscripts, just before it went to print. Claire is a great role model and has really encouraged me to persevere.

Do you write full time?

Yes.

Have you ever won an award/s or been shortlisted? What was it for?

Happy Pants – Why is Mummy so sad? was a recommended title in the Australian Family Therapists literature awards.
In 2009, I was awarded a special judge’s prize in the FAW Nairda Lyn Short Story awards.

Do you belong to any professional organisations? What are they and how do they help you?

I am a member of Writers Victoria and the Australian Society of Authors. Mostly, they help me to feel ‘in the loop’ in terms of industry news and opportunities.

Do you participate in writing workshops as a student? Which ones were memorable?

I did a large part of the Diploma of Screenwriting at RMIT which has helped a lot with structuring my work. It also helps me to ‘see in pictures’ which I think helps with picture book writing. I have also done lots of short courses with Writers Victoria, a particularly good one I did recently was on Pitching with Melanie Ostell.

How might you be contacted in relation to running workshops or for school visits?

The best way to contact me is by email at heather.gallagher@bigpond.com

We all know that would be writers should read and write as much as possible – do you have any other advice?

Glue your bum to your desk chair and just write. Remember CRAP IS GOOD – everyone has to write something not-so-great before they can write something brilliant J

How might people find you? Website, Blog, Facebook etc.

http://heathergallagher.com.au/HeatherGallagher/
https://www.facebook.com/heathergallagherkidswriter/

Also I have just started a Mother-Daughter blog with my teenager. You can find us at https://likemotherlikedaughter2016.wordpress.com/

Writing

Meet the Writer – Elizabeth Kasmer

Every week I like to feature an Australian writer and illustrator in PASS IT ON.

The illustrators’ interviews, once they have been featured in the ezine, are uploaded onto this blog.

The writers that I’ve interviewed don’t have a blog of their own so I thought I might upload their interviews here. I won’t be able to go back to the beginning but I hope to fill this space with interesting insights into some of our wonderful writers.

So here we go, please meet….

Elizabeth Kasmer

This interview first appeared in PASS IN ON on Tuesday 21st March 2016 – issue 578

 

Tell us a bit about yourself

I was born and raised in Brisbane but have also been fortunate enough to live in Denmark, Bendigo and PindiPindi, a tiny town in North Queensland. I currently live on the Sunshine Coast with my husband, three children, a dog and a snake. I have a B.A. in Humanities and a Graduate Diploma in Education.

When did you know that you were a writer?

For me, being a writer has less to do with words on paper and more to do with paying attention. The wonderful children’s writer Kate Di Camillo says on her website:It is the sacred duty of the writer to pay attention, to see the world

When did you first read your writing aloud or give it to someone to read and what was their reaction? How did it impact on you?

Sharing your work can be a daunting prospect for an aspiring writer but it is so important to get feedback from a trusted source. When I first picked up on the idea that I wanted to write I undertook two online courses followed by a three month mentorship with Nike Sulway. Nike’sresponses and feedback to my early work was always positive and constructive.There is no way I would have had the confidence to attempt a novel without it.

Did/do you have any writing heroes?

Anyone with the courage andtenacity to follow a writing project through to completion is a hero in my eyes.

What and when was your first acceptance? How did you feel?

My first acceptance was when I won the 2015 Emerging Queensland Writer — Manuscript Award. Part of the prizeincluded a contract with UQP. To say I was excited when I found out I had won this award would be an understatement.

What is your favourite genre to write? Why?

I didn’t set out to write YA but I find myself loving it more and more.

How long have you been writing? And what have you written?

My very first steps to becoming a published author started in 2012. I have written two picture books, a handful of short stories and one and a half novels.

Of your own work – do you have a favourite? Why is it your favourite?

My favourite would have to beBecoming Aurora.I cannot articulate how wonderful it feels to actually complete a project as huge and daunting asa novel.

What is your favourite genre to read? Why?

I love picture books and fantasy novels, literary fiction and everything in between.

But, if pushed, I would have to say that Australian YA is a particular favourite of mine.

Do you have a favourite author?

That’s a tough one! For children, I particularly love David Almond, Kate DiCamillo, Roald Dahl, E.B. White, Anna Fienberg, and heaps more!

Some excellent Australian YA writers to check out: Karen Foxlee, Claire Zorne, Margo Lanagan, Melina Marchetta, Marlee Jane Ward,Rebecca Lim and Nova Weetman.

Do you write full time?

It depends what you mean by full time. I help my husband run a home based business and run around after my three children. Somewhere in between, the writing happens.

Have you ever won an award/s or been shortlisted? What was it for?

Through the CYA competition I have placed second for Picture Books and first for YA.
Last year I was awarded Emerging Queensland Writer – Manuscript Award.

Do you participate in writing workshops as a student? Which ones were memorable?

The annual CYA Conference is always interesting and worthwhile. If you are an aspiring writer it is also a great place to network and make new friends.

I would also recommend The Novelists Boot Camp at the Queensland Writers Centre. This weekend course waspresented by the funny and informative Dr Kim Wilkins. If you are interested in learning how to plot and plan out your next novel, this is the course to take!

We all know that would be writers should read and write as much as possible – do you have any other advice?

Be patient, everything takes longer than you think.

Join or start your own critique group. Critique groups are a fantastic way to gain support, give and receive constructive feedback and share ideas. Learning how to critique is a fantastic skill that not onlyimproves your own writing/editing skills but is also a great way to help others.

How might people find you? Website, Blog, Facebook etc.

My webpage is: www.elizabethkasmer.com

Facebook — Elizabeth Kasmer

PASS IT ON · Writing

Meet the writer – Deborah Kelly

Every week I like to feature an Australian writer and illustrator in PASS IT ON.

The illustrators’ interviews, once they have been featured in the ezine, are uploaded onto this blog.

The writers that I’ve interviewed don’t have a blog of their own so I thought I might upload their interviews here. I won’t be able to go back to the beginning but I hope to fill this space with interesting insights into some of our wonderful writers.

So here we go, please meet….

Deborah Kelly

This interview first appeared in PASS IN ON on Tuesday 15th March 2016 – issue 577

 

Tell us a bit about yourself

I grew up on a farm in New Zealand where my family grew green beans and garlic. I moved to Australia when I was sixteen but have also lived in Scotland and Japan. I have a degree in Marine Biology. I love to swim and I practice yoga every day.
I live in NSW with my husband, two children and a very mischievous dog.

When did you know that you were a writer?

I can’t recall ever not being a writer! I remember writing poems, stories and letters from a very young age. And I always kept diaries-when I was at school, while I travelled and when I became a mother for the first time. I’ve done all sorts of jobs but whatever I have done and wherever I have been, writing has always been there in the background-like a reliable friend.

When did you first read your writing aloud or give it to someone to read and what was their reaction? How did it impact on you?

When I was seven I wrote my first series of ‘picture books’ about a prince called Puku (I grew up in New Zealand and the word ‘puku’ is Maori for belly!). On the back of each book I drew two columns: Name and Comment. Friends and family were allowed to read each story and write a comment but I insisted it be in pencil ONLY (just in case someone wrote a bad review)! Just as well the comments were all nice-otherwise I might not have kept writing!

What and when was your first acceptance? How did you feel?

In 2012 I participated in a ‘pitch to the publishers’ session at the NSW Writers’ Centre. I had precisely two minutes (they had a timer!) to pitch my story to a panel of publishers. I pitched a story I’d written about my Nana, who was a Hungarian refugee. An editor from Random House contacted me a day or two later wanting to meet in Sydney to discuss the manuscript. Random House decided to publish Jam for Nana. They also took another picture book text I had written which became The Bouncing Ball. I was on cloud nine for weeks!

You write stories in a range of formats-which do you prefer and why?

I have written short stories, picture books, chapter books and educational readers for kids.
I love all of these forms and enjoy switching back and forth between them as each offer their own challenges and rewards.
I am enjoying writing the Ruby Wishfingers series because the longer format has enabled me to explore my characters in more depth-both within each book and across the series.

 

What have you written?

My picture books include The Bouncing Ball (Random House 2013), Jam for Nana (Random House 2014) Dinosaur Disco(Random House 2015). I have two more picture books due out next year; Me and You (Penguin 2017) and an untitled picture book with EK Books (2017).

 

 

 

I have written short stories for Random House’s Stories for Boys and Stories for Girls collections. I also have a story in Hunter Anthologies’ Sproutlings collection which is released in April this year.

I have also written books for the educational market: Sam’s Great Invention (Macmillan Education 2013) and Don’t Sweat It (Macmillan Education 2013)

I recently completed the first three books in a junior fiction series called Ruby Wishfingers for Wombat Books.  Ruby Wishfingers: Skydancer’s Escape was released on March 1st this year. Ruby Wishfingers 2: Toad-ally Magic and the third book in the Ruby Wishfingers series will both come out this year.

In addition to writing for children, I write Haiku poetry which has been published in various forms from magazines to anthologies to interactive maps. My own collection Haiku Journey was published in 2015. I wrote it during the two years I spent living and working in Japan.

Of your own work – do you have a favourite? Why is it your favourite?

All of them are special to me but my favourite tends to be the one I’m currently working on because that is where my heart is at that time.

What are you currently working on?      

I have almost finished writing the third book in the Ruby Wishfingers series for Wombat Books. I plan to work on a couple of picture book texts next and after that I would like to explore an idea I have for a middle grade novel.

Do you have a favourite children’s book?

There are so many fantastic children’s books out there that I find it impossible to pick just one favourite.

My favourite chapter book as a child was Maurice Gee’s ‘The World Around the Corner’. I loved the idea that a whole other world existed right in the middle of suburban New Zealand.

More recently, Morris Gleitzman’s Once, Then, Now, After series left a lasting impact on me.

Who are some of your favourite authors?

Jeanette Winterson, Jhumpa Lahiri, Khaled Hosseini and Markus Zsusak are some of my favourite authors of books for adults.

My favourite children’s authors include Morris Gleitzman, Aaron Blabey, Margaret Wild, Jackie French, Maurice Gee and of course Roald Dahl.

Who has helped you along your writing journey?

So many people have helped me along my writing journey.
Teachers, librarians, friends and family members, my agent, fellow authors and illustrators. The editors and publishers who believed in my work and have taught me so much. Not to mention all the parents, grandparents and kids who come along to my events, buy or borrow my books and take the time to let me know they enjoyed them. It means so much to a writer, especially on days when they are plagued with self-doubt!
Some people say it takes a whole village to raise a child. I believe that it takes a whole community to support an author!

Do you mentor others? What do you do?

I work as a mentor for the Hunter Writers’ Centre in Newcastle. I enjoy meeting other writers and helping where I can. I run Haiku poetry workshops for kids. I love to encourage creativity in children through my workshops- it comes so naturally to them and its such an important thing to hold onto.

Do you belong to any professional organisations? What are they and how do they help you?

I am an active member of the Children’s Book Council of Australia (CBCA) Newcastle Sub-branch. The CBCA provides a wonderful opportunity to mix with other local authors, illustrators, librarians and teachers-or anyone else interested in children’s books. The CBCA also provides plenty of opportunities for authors to promote their work and also to give back to the community. I have found it to be a great source of encouragement and support in what can be quite a tough industry. I have also made some wonderful friends through the CBCA.

Do you participate in writing workshops as a student? Which ones were memorable?

I have attended many writing workshops and am always on the lookout for more.
The first one I attended was run by Margaret Hamilton at Pinerolo, her picture book cottage in the Blue Mountains. We sat around the fire eating a beautiful Italian lunch Margaret had made, talked about picture books and listened to Dee Huxley give us a fascinating insight into the illustrator’s world. It was a wonderful introduction to the world of picture books!
I have attended many courses at the NSW Writers’ Centre in Rozelle including a wonderful workshop by Jacqueline Harvey who talked about her bestselling Alice Miranda books. I have also attended workshops at the Hunter Writers’ Centre here in Newcastle. Kerri Lane’s workshop ‘Writing for the Educational Market’ introduced me to a completely different part of the publishing industry.

Do you run writing workshops? What do you include? 

I run a fun-filled, hands on Haiku Poetry writing workshop for primary school aged students which includes a Japanese morning or afternoon tea!

How might you be contacted in relation to running workshops or for school visits?

I frequently visit schools, literary festivals and libraries to talk about writing and to share my books.
Please visit my website http://www.deborahkelly.com.au
Or Facebook page: https://www.facebook.com/DeborahKellyChildrensAuthor/
And be sure to check out Ruby Wishfingers’ own website, full of fun activities and resources relating to the books, as well as teachers notes and information for parents.
http://www.rubywishfingers.com.au

 

We all know that would be writers should read and write as much as possible – do you have any other advice?

Learn how to take constructive criticism from those in the know. Attend as many writers’ festivals and author run workshops as you can. And join your local CBCA branch-it’s a fabulous source of information and support!

Writing

Meet the writer – Katrina McKelvey

Every week I like to feature an Australian writer and illustrator in PASS IT ON.

Now with the illustrators, once they have been featured in the ezine, I upload their interview onto a blog.

The writers that I’ve interviewed don’t have a blog of their own so I thought I might upload their interviews here. I won’t be able to go back to the beginning but I hope to fill this space with interesting insights into some of our wonderful writers.

So here we go, please meet….

Katrina McKelvey

This interview first appeared in PASS IN ON on Monday 7th March 2016 – issue 576

 

When did you know that you were a writer?

I started writing for children in early 2011 after I had put primary teaching aside to be a full-time mum. My first child was born in 2008 so over the next 3 years I looked for the perfect job that would mix my teaching experiences with a new, flexible career. I had children’s books all around me and I was very passionate about my children falling in love with books as early as possible. Writing for children made complete sense to me.

When did you first read your writing aloud or give it to someone to read and what was their reaction? How did it impact on you?

I joined a writing course about a year after I started writing for children. It was facilitated by Libby Gleeson in conjunction with the Centre for Continuing Education at The University of Sydney. I travelled from Newcastle to Sydney once a week for 8 weeks. It was during the 6th visit (I think) I read my first ever manuscript aloud to a room full of strangers. They made some great suggestions for improvement. Looking back now I can see it was dreadful. That manuscript is still in the bottom drawer but I still believe in it. I’ll revive it one day and give it another shot.

What and when was your first acceptance? How did you feel?

I was driving to Canberra for the CBCA National Conference in 2014. I just happen to be in the car with Kirrili Lonergan, the hopeful illustrator. We found out together we were being contracted as an author/illustrator team to create ‘Dandelions’. We discovered the news via a text message as our publisher didn’t want us to crash the car – ha! We pulled over and read it on the side of the highway. Later that evening we toasted our success with champagne in the foyer of the  Australian National Library.

What is your favourite genre to write? Why?

I love writing picture books as it is so much fun playing with words and playing with how they fall on the page (that’s as close to illustrating as I will get). But I’m dabbling with writing early chapter books. They give me more freedom as I tend to write too much.

How long have you been writing? And what have you written?

I’ve been writing for 5 years now. I’ve written many manuscripts about animals, disasters, farting, and skateboarding. Some are humorous, and some more serious and whimsical.

‘Dandelions’ illustrated by Kirrili Lonergan, published by EK Books in October, 2015 was my second attempt at writing a picture book.

What is your favourite genre to read? Why?

I love reading picture books and funny chapter books. I need the pictures, the fun texts, the humour, and the text in small chunks to keep me interested. I love reading with my children. I absolutely loved reading to my students in the classroom too – anything that hooked them.

Do you have a favourite author?

No, I have many! Stephen Michael King, Libby Gleeson, Sara Acton, Nick Bland, Aaron Blabey, Danny Parker, Glenda Millard, Bob Graham …

Do you mentor others? What do you do?

I facilitate the Hunter Writers Centre Children’s Writing Group. We meet monthly to guide, inspire, critique and offer each other advice and inspiration. I absolutely love meeting with these people. We laugh so much and always go home with a spring in our steps.

Do you write full time?

No. But I wish I could sometimes.

I’m trying to become a master of multi-tasking  and to be more disciplined.  My children are so young and I want to fit their needs in around my writing. At best, I get about 4 hours a day uninterrupted and then some of that time is used to do social media, administration etc. School hours always go faster than any other hours in the day! The rest of the day is full of sporting commitments, preparing meals, homework, managing the family diary, and cleaning up cat vomit.

What are your other jobs?

Mum to two children, wife, Books In Homes Role Model, CBCA (NSW) Newcastle Sub-branch President, Newcastle Writers Festival committee member, P&F President, household manager, counsellor, gardener, first aid officer, cleaner, psychologist, referee, taxi driver, financial manager, secretary, magician, need I go on?

Have you ever won an award/s or been shortlisted? What was it for?

I came third in a CYA Conference Picture Book Writing Competition in 2013.

Do you belong to any professional organisations? What are they and how do they help you?

CBCA
ASA
SCBWI
NSW Writer’s Centre
Hunter Writers Centre

These organisations offer advice, access to workshops/courses/conferences/services, and help me to keep in touch with the industry. Through these organisations I have been able to meet a lot of my writing and illustrating friends. Support comes in many different forms and from many different places. All of these organisations contribute to my support network in someway.

Do you participate in writing workshops as a student? Which ones were memorable?

Yes, I go to as many as I can. I have attended conferences and festivals up and down the east coast. I love listening to and learning from fellow colleagues – and as a bonus I get to make new friends along the way.

The first ever workshop I attended was with Jacqueline Harvey through the Sydney Writers Festival in 2011. I still remember sitting in that room listening to her every word. I knew no one. I wrote so many notes. I was a sponge!

Do you run writing workshops? What do you include? 

I plan to do these in the future. At the moment I’m concentrating on school visits. I’m also throwing myself out there to do author talks, panel speaking and chair appointments for festivals and conferences.

How might you be contacted in relation to running workshops or for school visits?

Website: http://www.katrinamckelvey.com
Email: katrinamckelvey@bigpond.com

I’d love to participate in festivals and conferences as well. Book me!

We all know that would be writers should read and write as much as possible – do you have any other advice?

  1. Be patient, persistent, and passionate. But above all – practise!
  2. Listen and observe.
  3. Start building your social media platform immediately.
  4. Get to know your local children’s authors and illustrators – they could become your best friends.
  5. Have fun!

Where you can find me…

Website: www.katrinamckelvey.com
Blog: http://katrinamckelvey.blogspot.com.au
Facebook: https://www.facebook.com/katrinamckelveyauthor/
Twitter: https://twitter.com/katrinamckelvey
Pinterest: https://www.pinterest.com/katrinamckelvey/
Instagram: https://www.instagram.com/katrinamckelvey/
YouTube: https://www.youtube.com/channel/UCgfVHAHyIHP14oeEkGl2jtA

PASS IT ON · Writing

Meet the writer – Lynn Ward

Every week I like to feature an Australian writer and illustrator in PASS IT ON.

Now with the illustrators, once they have been featured in the ezine, I upload their interview onto a blog.

The writers that I’ve interviewed don’t have a blog of their own so I thought I might upload their interviews here. I won’t be able to go back to the beginning but I hope to fill this space with interesting insights into some of our wonderful writers.

So here we go, please meet….

 

Lynn Ward

This interview first appeared in PASS IN ON on Monday 29th February 2016 – issue 575

 

 

When did you know that you were a writer? 

I still have doubts when calling myself a writer but I think I knew I wanted to write from a very early age, however it took me until I was forty to decide to pursue publication.

When did you first read your writing aloud or give it to someone to read and what was their reaction? How did it impact on you?

My family have always been the go-to critics, although I have to take what they say with a grain of salt. Everything is ‘lovely’ and ‘great’. It is a good morale booster, but as an editing tool – it’s totally worthless J
When I first decided to write for children I was quite sure my manuscript was ‘lovely’ and ‘great’ so I asked a teacher friend to read it for me. Her reaction was underwhelming. She pointed out that it was much like many others she had read. I got a similar comment when I won a picture book writing competition run by Di Bates. Di said that I could obviously write well but that my subject matter was letting me down. Both of those comments disappointed me at the time but it was the best feedback I could have had, because over the years I have learnt to write well, but I know that unless I find something to make my manuscript stand out from the rest, I may very well stay in the slush pile an awfully long time (sometimes my fingers turn into prunes I am in there so long!)

What and when was your first acceptance? How did you feel?

My first acceptance was a story in The NSW School Magazine. It felt amazing. To have validation that someone who didn’t know me still liked my work was incredible.

What is your favourite genre to write? Why?

I adore writing picture books and I particularly enjoy writing in rhyme. I try sometimes to write in prose, but more often than not, it still comes to me in rhyme.

How long have you been writing? And what have you written?

I have been writing with the aim of publication for about fifteen years. I started off with stories in the NSW School Magazine, and some short works with online magazines before having my first picture books published. The Big Beet was published in 2013 by Omnibus Books (Scholastic) and Sally Snickers’ Knickers was published in 2014 by Walker Books Australia. A Perfect Place for Wombat (tentative title) will be published by Omnibus Books in 2016.

Of your own work – do you have a favourite? Why is it your favourite?

Probably one of my unpublished manuscripts is my favourite and that is because it includes all my grandchildren’s names. I think it is still a good story, despite the sentimentality of my character name choices. It’s called Benji the Bare-Bottom Dragon, and it recently placed First in the Writers Unleashed Picture Book Writing Competition.

What is your favourite genre to read? Why?

As well as devouring picture books I also do read books for adults. I enjoy crime/thrillers and a bit of chick lit.

Do you have a favourite author?

I love children’s authors Julia Donaldson, Bob Graham, Mem Fox, Dr Suess… the list could go on. As far as chick lit goes my favourites are Marian Keyes and Cathy Kelly. I find I enjoy most crime/thriller authors.

Do you write full time?

No. I have an office job. If writing paid well enough I would do it full-time though.

What are your other jobs?

I work in a small school (13 students in total!) in the office and as a teacher’s assistant. It is a great job, except that I’d rather be writing.

Have you ever won an award/s or been shortlisted? What was it for?

Sally Snickers’ Knickers was shortlisted in the 2015 Speech Pathology of Australia awards which was very exciting.

I have also placed in a number of competitions, including a few Firsts.

Do you participate in writing workshops as a student? Which ones were memorable?

I participated in a two-day workshop with Jeni Mawter many moons ago when I was starting out and I found that inspiring. I have done online courses with Libby Gleeson and with Thomson Direct where Jill McDougall was my tutor. I also attended the Ballarat Writers’ Conference a few years ago. I would dearly love to attend more festivals and workshops but I find that having to work full-time and living in central western NSW restricts my options somewhat.

Do you run writing workshops? What do you include? 

I have just started an online proofreading/editing service for picture book texts. I hope I will be able to help other keen writers who might be just starting out, or established writers who simply need another set of eyes over their manuscript.
Find me on polishyourpicturebook.blogspot.com
That’s Polish Your Picture Book – remember the name.

I don’t run workshops although I have delivered addresses to both CWA and Rotary groups, as well as doing readings at schools. I will usually have a bit of fun with the readings by including the audience as characters. This works particularly well with Sally Snickers’ Knickers when it comes time for the teacher to wear her knickers on her head.

How might you be contacted in relation to running workshops or for school visits?

My email address is lynnward1@bigpond.com

We all know that would be writers should read and write as much as possible – do you have any other advice?

With picture books less is more. Remember that half your book belongs to the illustrator. Allow them room to do their job. When editing a picture book you are more likely to be removing superfluous words than adding any extra.

Don’t be too quick to finish your manuscript and send it off. Let it simmer quietly for awhile, come back to it, taste it, perhaps give it a stir. Then simmer some more. When you’re really sure it doesn’t need anything added or taken away – only then should you send it off.

How might people find you? Website, Blog, Facebook etc.

My webpage is: www.lynnwardauthor.blogspot.com

My Editing Service can be found at: www.polishyourpicturebook.blogspot.com

and  I am on Facebook, look for Lynn Ward – Author

Writing

Meet the writer – Goldie Alexander

Every week I like to feature an Australian writer and illustrator in PASS IT ON.

Now with the illustrators, once they have been featured in the ezine, I upload their interview onto a blog.

The writers that I’ve interviewed don’t have a blog of their own so I thought I might upload their interviews here. I won’t be able to go back to the beginning but I hope to fill this space with interesting insights into some of our wonderful writers.

So here we go, please meet….

 

Goldie Alexander

This interview first appeared in PASS IN ON on Monday 22nd February 2016 – issue 574

 

When did you know that you were a writer?

I only became serious about becoming a professional author when I was in my forties. But I was a very serious reader from the age of three. I believe this is what creates the writer, apart from imagination and perseverance.

When did you first read your writing aloud or give it to someone to read and what was their reaction? How did it impact on you?

I had a cousin who was a famous writer and I gave him one of my short stories. He was totally scathing abut it without being helpful. I might have been totally put off except I decided to ignore him. But it’s wise to keep in mind how vulnerable inexperienced writers can be. The cousin’s attitude never changed, no matter how many of my books were published. He always pretended I was that novice.

What and when was your first acceptance? How did you feel?

Tremendously excited. I was fortunate enough to be commissioned to write four ‘Dolly Fictions’ and because the instructions were very precise they taught me a lot about the craft. Back then there were no creative writing classes. I wrote those 4 novels under a pseudonym so when the first book under my own name ‘Mavis Road Medley’ appeared that was a great cause for celebration.

What is your favourite genre to write? Why?

I’m a jack of all trades. I write in almost every genre (except horror, eroticism or film scripts) for both adults and kids of all ages. I like to float between genres, viewing each new take as a challenge.

How long have you been writing? And what have you written?

I have written over 85 fictions and non fictions, many short stories, scripts and about a million articles. Just kidding! If anyone is interested most of longer works are on my website. These include 3 collections of short stories amounting to 30 stories condensed from longer work I wrote when the market was down and publishers taking very little. The secret is to be adaptable.

Of your own work – do you have a favourite? Why is it your favourite?

The last thing I wrote. Then none of it because I never feel that anything is quite good enough.

What is your favourite genre to read? Why?

I am a voracious reader. However I tend to stick to literary work these days. I’m probably the last of a dying species. I belong to 2 bookclubs, an adult and a children’s and both meet monthly. That means 4 books every month, plus whatever others recommend. I have become lazy about finding hardcopy and read just about everything except picture story books on my kindle. It’s soooo easy to just download!

Do you mentor others? What do you do?

I taught part time Creative Writing at Holmesglen TAFE for fourteen years. I have also over the years mentored young authors for the Australian Society of Authors

Do you write full time?

Most writers write full time even if they don’t sit at their computers. We constantly mull over possibilities and observe our surroundings for inspiration. Does that man on the tram look as if he takes good care of his kids? Does that bunch of schoolboys bully others? Using public transport is an excellent way of creating convincing characters. At my age I have become invisible. If age has its drawbacks it is also very useful for observing people’s idiosyncratic behaviour.

What are your other jobs?

Boring housework. Is that still considered a job? My family are all grown and where my contemporaries are babysitting grandchildren, ours are either grown or live interstate.

Have you ever won an award/s or been shortlisted? What was it for?

Yes. Please check my website for details. My awards in 2015 are for the verse novel ‘In Hades’ shortlisted for an Aurealis Award. And a 1st prize for the Rolfe Boldewood short story literary award.

Do you belong to any professional organisations? What are they and how do they help you?

These days I only belong to ASA, SCBWI, Writer’s Victoria. They tell me what is going on, provide
legal protection and have me knowing I belong to a fellowship. Writing can be a very lonely game.

Do you participate in writing workshops as a student? Which ones were memorable?

No, I ran them. I had wonderful students. Some became well known and celebrated authors

Do you run writing workshops? What do you include? 

Yes I do run workshops on all aspects of writing for young readers. In particular, fictionalising history, writing science fiction and fantasy, writing mysteries and creating convincing characters. For adults I run writing memoir workshops that are extremely popular.

How might you be contacted in relation to running workshops or for school visits?

I do this quite frequently and happy to be asked. I can be emailed on goldie@goldiealexander.comor contacted via my webpage or mobile. 0413408468

We all know that would be writers should read and write as much as possible – do you have any other advice?

In one word: perseverance. Don’t let anyone or any situation put you off.

How might people find you? 

www.goldiealexander.com
www.goldiealexander/com/blog
twitter/com goldie alexander
facebook/com: goldie alexander.

Writing

Meet the writer – Cate Whittle

Every week I like to feature an Australian writer and illustrator in PASS IT ON.

Now with the illustrators, once they have been featured in the ezine, I upload their interview onto a blog.

The writers that I’ve interviewed don’t have a blog of their own so I thought I might upload their interviews here. I won’t be able to go back to the beginning but I hope to fill this space with interesting insights into some of our wonderful writers.

So here we go, please meet….

 

Cate Whittle

This interview first appeared in PASS IN ON on Monday 15th February 2016 – issue 573

 

When did you know that you were a writer?

Um… somebody gave me a pencil?

When did you first read your writing aloud or give it to someone to read and what was their reaction? How did it impact on you?

I was that precocious kid who insisted on boring my friends with stories I had written… think rainy days (there were a lot of rainy days) with a torch in a blanket cubby, or perched on a branch half way up a tree (on those not so rainy days)… I suspect they actually did like listening to them, though (they were often about us on Famous Five or Swallows and Amazons type adventures, and, eventually, visiting our own version of Narnia).

What and when was your first acceptance? How did you feel?

Do you mean the (dreadful, dark and dingy) poem in the local paper when I was 13?  Or the short story in Stephen Matthew’s Danger anthology?  Magazines?  All were fabulous, validating, and exciting, but my two most epic moments were when I received a call from Transworld in UK, which wasn’t exactly an acceptance but was a defining moment (one of my stories was shortlisted in a major competition – the Terry Pratchett First Novel Award, 2013), and when Omnibus rang to let me know they were going to publish Trouble.  Yay!

What is your favourite genre to write? Why?

I love the freedom that Fantasy affords to create a world and characters that step beyond the everyday.  Gosh, that sounds a bit dry, doesn’t it?  Actually, I love reading Fantasy, so writing it is natural.

How long have you been writing? And what have you written?

I took up the pen again (or recommissioned my keyboard) seriously about 15 years ago when our third child was born… I took what was supposed to be a year off teaching (but turned into a few more) and spent some time honing the craft and entering competitions. This led to publication of a few short stories in anthologies, which gave me the confidence to start submitting to the lovely, but now gone, Pearson magazines, where I had a few stories and articles see the light of day with Challenge, Comet and Explore – and got paid!  And then, eventually, my first very own book, Trouble at Home, found its way out into the wide, wide world… soon to be followed by three more books in the series.

Of your own work – do you have a favourite? Why is it your favourite?

Whatever I’m working on at the time is my favourite!

What is your favourite genre to read? Why?

Like most of family I grew up in, if there are written words in front of me, I will read them.  I like to read to escape, however, so I don’t like things to get too serious too often.  Thanks to reading CS Lewis’ Narnia books when I was about 8 or 9, however, I have been a confirmed Fantasy fan ever since.  I am still looking for the wardrobe.

I just like reading.

Do you have a favourite author?

I have lots of favourite authors… I can never decide!

Did/do you have any writing heroes or mentors?

I have to thank the lovely Aleesah Darlison for the encouragement she gave me as we walked back from lunch to the ACT Writers Centre, that cold and windy winter day, that led to Omnibus accepting the first four books of what has become the Trouble series.  And I have learned a lot from Kate Forsyth, too.

I don’t think they know they are my mentors, though…  I try not to stalk them.

Do you mentor others? What do you do?

I tentatively put my toe in the water and delivered a presentation at the Australian Writers Centre last year… does that count?

Do you write full time?

I wish!

What are your other jobs?

Teacher, Mum, Other Half, General Help and Bottle Wash…

Have you ever won an award/s or been shortlisted? What was it for?

I have a goodly list of competitions that I’ve either won or been placed in for writing short stories… Shadows of Annwn is my only full length novel to reach the heights, but, despite Sir Terry loving it, it still lies in wait for the right publisher (I’m actually rewriting it at the moment… tightening up the plot care of some great advice from Kate Forsyth, and renamed as Shades of Winter to avoid the difficult to pronounce Welsh word)!

Do you belong to any professional organisations? What are they and how do they help you?

I’m a member of the ACT Writers Centre, where I attend workshops and conferences to learn new skills and meet other writers, and I joined the ACT branch of SCWBI to be part of a group of like-minded people.   I’m also a member of the ASA, which keeps me up to date with the writing world in Australia, and I’m an author member of the ACT CBCA, which is a lot of fun, too!

Do you participate in writing workshops as a student? Which ones were memorable?

Gosh, yes.  I always feel that there is a lot to learn.  Memorable?  So many to choose from.  I think my biggest ‘aha’ moment, recently, came from Kate Forsyth’s  Building Castles in the Air workshop… and now I desperately want to head over to the Cotswolds with her to keep on learning.  Not just because I love that part of the world.

Do you run writing workshops? What do you include?

I’m still on my L plates, but last year I ran Characters that Count at the ACT Writers Centre.  It received some great feedback so I’ve also devised a number of other workshops, but they are still in development at the moment: one on descriptive writing, one on different styles of plotting and planning, and one on world building.  Other than that, I have done a couple of workshops over the years as part of Children’s Book Week, and last year I was part of a great panel with other CBCA author members… best fun!  Oh, and I ran a Creative Writing Club at my school which was amazing fun, too.

How might you be contacted in relation to running workshops or for school visits?

At the moment the best way to contact me is via email at cate@catewhittlewrites.com .

We all know that would be writers should read and write as much as possible – do you have any other advice?

Just do it!  And, to quote the song from Bridge to Terabithia, keep your mind wide open.  Read Stephen King’s On Writing.  Find other like minded people: join writer’s groups, get a tribe, read PIO!

How might people find you? Website, Blog, Facebook etc.

I’ve got two websites:

www.catewhittlewrites.com which is mostly for other writers and has my blog attached,

then there is Trouble is Coming at www.catewhittlewrites2.com which at the moment is just a launch page for Trouble at Home, but is more for my young readers and will grow as Trouble grows.

and I have both a facebook page https://www.facebook.com/AuthorCateWhittle, and a twitter account (that I will learn to use one day!) at @CateWhittle

Uncategorized

Meet the writer – Robyn Osborne

Every week I like to feature an Australian writer and illustrator in PASS IT ON.

Now with the illustrators, once they have been featured in the ezine, I upload their interview onto a blog.

The writers that I’ve interviewed don’t have a blog of their own so I thought I might upload their interviews here. I won’t be able to go back to the beginning but I hope to fill this space with interesting insights into some of our wonderful writers.

So here we go, please meet….

 

Robyn Osborne

This interview first appeared in PASS IN ON on Monday 1st February 2016 – issue 572

 

When did you know that you were a writer?

From an early age I enjoyed reading, writing and creating fantasy worlds. My parents were both avid readers and encouraged my love of books. At the start of high school, my choice of authors such as Steinbeck, Orwell, Huxley and Tolkien got my creative juices flowing, much to the disbelief of my Grade 9 English teacher. After presenting her with a beautifully crafted story about an orphan wolf, I was accused of copying from a book. She couldn’t believe a 14 year old could have written so well. Although this happened many years ago, this unfair accusation still rankles and made me aware of the damage that unfeeling comments from teachers can do! Luckily, my Grade 12 English teacher was much more supportive and encouraging. Long years in the public service stifled my creative flame, but on my return to university in my thirties, I re-discovered my love of writing. I also made sure my wonderful Grade 12 English teacher received a complimentary copy of my very first published book.

When did you first read your writing aloud or give it to someone to read and what was their reaction? How did it impact on you?

I hate reading my writing aloud, especially to family and friends. I do recall giving some of my angst ridden teenage poems to the English teacher when I was in Grade 12. He must have seen some merit, as one was published in the Nambour High School Yearbook of 1976! I guess this counts as my very first piece of published writing, albeit unpaid.

What and when was your first acceptance? How did you feel?

After completing my first junior manuscript about a boy who desperately wanted a dog, I sent it off to a number of publishers, who promptly responded with a negative, or didn’t respond at all. The record for the longest response time I received from a publisher was just over five years, which I have to say is pretty impressive. Unfortunately, the decision was still no. I sat down, re-wrote the story as first person, cut out lots of the descriptive guff and re-submitted to Macmillan Education. To my surprise they said yes and D.O.G. was published in 2005.

What is your favourite genre to write? Why?

I would describe myself as a children’s/YA author, however I have also written adult stories. There is certainly a canine theme running through my writing, and while my husband thinks it’s time to ditch the dog (figuratively speaking), my animal obsession is a big part of who I am.

How long have you been writing? And what have you written?

My published books are D.O.G., (2005, Macmillan). Next came Dog Logic: a pooch’s guide to dogs behaving badly, (Big Sky Publishing, 2010) which was co-pawthored by my clever canine companion Sox.  Dog Logic is a training manual with a twist – it is written from a dog’s point of view.  Sox continues his literary career as a columnist in the Kids Club section of Dog’s Life magazine and he also has his own Facebook page – which is remarkably clever of him, considering he moved on to the Rainbow Bridge in 2012 at the ripe old age of 14. My other dog, Snowy was not to be outdone and in November 2014 Midget Bones’ Diary was published by Puppy Care Education. Midget Bones’ Diary is a witty, winsome memoir and follows in the paw steps of Bridget Jones, with a touch of ‘Jackie’ Collins and a large dose of Lassie thrown in. 2014 was a big year for me, as my first picture books were also published; Going Fishing & Going Camping (Big Sky Publishing). Can I add that all these books were trade, not self-published, without sounding too elitist? I do get a little tired of people assuming I have gone down the self – publishing route, especially snooty book shop owners. I have also had short stories and articles published in magazines, newspapers and anthologies.

Of your own work – do you have a favourite? Why is it your favourite?

Being my first published book, I have a soft spot for D.O.G. I also love the fact that my two beloved dogs, Sox and Snowy continue to live on through their respective books. My current dog Jack is keen to put claws to computer, so who knows what will come out of the Osborne household in the future.

What is your favourite genre to read? Why?

I am happy to read just about anything, as long as it is well written. I do enjoy a good historical fiction.

Do you have a favourite author?

Where do I start? Bill Bryson’s humorous take on life always lifts my spirits. I also love Mary Renault’s Alexandra the Great trilogy, as well as the Arthurian books by Mary Stewart.  Also Hilary Mantel and Salman Rushdie…the list goes on.

Do you write full time?

Oh, what a joy to be a full time writer…and actually be able to afford to feed Jack the dog. No, I haven’t given up my day job (see below). I do recall a moment at one of my schools, when the Principal told me they were ordering a set of my (then) newly published novel, D.OG. I was feeling rather proud and pleased with myself, until I worked out the royalties from this sale would just about pay off my chocolate account at the school. I think it was then I realised that life as a full time writer wasn’t going to happen anytime soon.

What are your other jobs?

I am a primary teacher and have recently gone into Special Education.

Have you ever won an award/s or been shortlisted? What was it for?

I was lucky enough to be one of eight participants chosen nationally to attend QWC/Allen & Unwin’s Manuscript Development in 2011. I have also won awards in a number of writing competitions. In 2009 my picture book manuscript, ‘Going Fishing’ received a Highly Commended at the CYA (Children’s and Young Adult Writers And Illustrators Conference) in Brisbane. This is the story that has since been published, so the judges obviously had good taste. Interestingly, my other manuscript, ‘John’s Blanket’ won first place, but is as yet unpublished (but I live in hope).

Do you belong to any professional organisations? What are they and how do they help you?

I am a member of The Society of Children’s Book Writers and Illustrators (SCBWI) and the Qld Writers Centre (QWC).  I also subscribe to two excellent writing e-zines; Pass It On and Buzz Words.

Do you run writing workshops? What do you include? 

I have run workshops at libraries, most recently in Brisbane for children during the Christmas holidays. After reading my two picture books, we got down to the business of unpacking what makes a narrative. The kids were very enthusiastic – right up until they had to put pencil to paper! I do think writing should be a fun activity, rather than a chore, so we continued with lots of oral discussions instead.

How might you be contacted in relation to running workshops or for school visits?

The best way of contacting me is through my website Robyn Osborne

We all know that would be writers should read and write as much as possible – do you have any other advice?

At our house, we are all a bit obsessive with our reading. Once a book is started, everyday life simply gets in the way of reading. Same thing applies for writing. When I’m in the writing zone, the real world seems to disappear.

How might people find you? Website, Blog, Facebook etc.

My website is Robyn Osborne

Sox ‘The Philosophical Pooch’ also allows me to use his Facebook page from time to time.

Writing

Meet the writer – Stephanie Campisi

Every week I like to feature an Australian writer and illustrator in PASS IT ON.

Now with the illustrators, once they have been featured in the ezine, I upload their interview onto a blog. This takes time and I’m often running behind but from now on I’m hoping to keep this up to date.

The writers that I’ve interviewed don’t have a blog of their own so I thought I might upload their interviews here. I won’t be able to go back to the beginning but I hope to fill this space with interesting insights into some of our wonderful writers.

So here we go please meet….

 

Stephanie Campisi

This interview first appeared in PASS IN ON on Monday 1st February 2016 – issue 571

 

When did you know that you were a writer?

When I was first able to write, I think. That sounds a bit facetious, but I was that kid writing illustrated tomes throughout primary school and handing in novella-length manuscripts as part of English class. A shameless knock-off of a Tin Tin story involving detective dolphins was probably the highlight of my primary school writing efforts. I should probably apologise to Ms Ferguson for that.

What and when was your first acceptance? How did you feel?

I actually sold the first short story I ever submitted, and I still have the (very small) uncashed cheque as a memento. I’ve since balanced out that initial success with hundreds of rejections, so that’s kept my ego in check.

What is your favourite genre to write? Why?

Everything. I have a bit of a Georges Perec bent in that I want to try my hand at every type of writing possible – I’ve written everything from picture books to novels to poetry to interactive fiction. Most things seem to come out with a bit of a fantastic twist and plenty of wordplay, so there’s that. Puns. Can puns be a genre?

Of your own work – do you have a favourite? Why is it your favourite?

On the strength of titles alone, Pebble Without a Cause is probably the winner. A pebble in a family of boulders feigns being a moon rock in order to stand out – with disastrous effects. I think you can do a lot working at the intersection of sad and silly, which is where my books tend to land.

Do you write full time?

In a sense. By day I’m a copywriter specialising in branding and identity projects, and with a particular interest in packaging copy. I’ve also worked on a lot of media tie-ins for big Hollywood properties that I’m not allowed to name, which has been a daunting but exciting experience. (If only the stuff with my name on it could sell so well!) It’s forced me to err on the side of brevity and to consider words as part of a larger whole – and of course to write with a particular impact or outcome in mind.

Have you ever won an award/s or been shortlisted? What was it for?

Early on in my writing career I was focusing mostly on short fiction for adults, and was shortlisted for a couple of awards – Aurealis and Ditmar best short story short-listings, and a Best New Talent shortlisting. I’ve also judged a couple of awards, including the John Marsden Short Story Award, the My Brother Jack Award and the Small Press Most Underrated Novel Award. A challenging but rewarding experience involving huge stacks of paper and marking rubrics!

Do you belong to any professional organisations? What are they and how do they help you?

I’m a member of my local chapter of the SCBWI, and I’ve found it invaluable in keeping on top of industry news and in meeting like-minded authors. It can get lonely being hidden behind a screen all day!

How might you be contacted in relation to running workshops or for school visits?

I’ve recently moved from my native Melbourne to Portland, Oregon (which is basically Melbourne but half the size and on the other side of the world), so any Aussie visits or workshops are most likely to be conducted via Skype. Getting in touch with Sammy Bosch (Sammy@mightymedia.com) is probably the best way to arrange an in-person visit.

We all know that would be writers should read and write as much as possible – do you have any other advice?

Just to be true to yourself as a writer. I think my agent probably cries a little each time I submit a manuscript – each is less marketable than the previous one and unashamedly falls between genres – but a book takes so much time and energy that it doesn’t make sense to work on something that you’re not truly passionate about.

How might people find you? Website, Blog, Facebook etc.

Feel free to stop by my website at www.stephaniecampisi.com; if you like photos of coffee and tweets about etymology and Old English, you can follow me on Twitter at @stephcampisi.

Picturebooks · Publishing · Writing

Meet the writer – Spider Lee

Every week I like to feature an Australian writer and illustrator in PASS IT ON.

Now with the illustrators, once they have been featured in the ezine, I upload their interview onto a blog. This takes time and I’m often running behind but from now on I’m hoping to keep this up to date.

The writers that I’ve interviewed don’t have a blog of their own so I thought I might upload their interviews here. I won’t be able to go back to the beginning but I hope to fill this space with interesting insights into some of our wonderful writers.

So here we go please meet….

 

Spider Lee

This interview first appeared in PASS IN ON on Monday 25th January 2016 – issue 570

When did you know that you were a writer?

Most creative people have been creative their whole lives, it’s something that grows inside you so it is hard to define a starting point. I did not come from a bookish environment and really only opened my eyes to reading when I became a parent myself. When I decided to become a writer, I googled myself and found that I already was a successful writer, or at least someone with the same name as me was. So my first task was deciding on a new name. Spider has been my nick name from a very young age, it’s easy to remember and works well with the primary age readers.

When did you first read your writing aloud or give it to someone to read and what was their reaction? How did it impact on you?

Putting yourself ‘out there’ for others to judge & actively calling yourself ‘a writer’ takes a great deal of courage. I have learned that adults will be polite and encouraging regardless of what they really think but children are gut wrenchingly honest, both with their body language and their comments. When I first read Wobbly Boots to a classroom of children, I learned more in 10 minutes than a week of writing workshops … brutal and inspiring all at once!

What and when was your first acceptance? How did you feel?

In retrospect, the publication of my first two picture books, Wobbly Boots and The Hair Ball were bitter sweet. The years of rejection letters and the resulting self-doubt most emerging authors experience can make you vulnerable when it comes to signing your first contract. It’s not always easy to judge the integrity of others in the publishing industry or understand the dynamics of the whole process but I guess like most experiences in life, once bitten twice shy … it’s part of the journey.

What is your favourite genre to write? Why?

I absolutely love writing middle grade fiction, particularly contemporary humour which will engage primary aged boys in the delights of getting lost in the adventure of a book. As a teacher I see so many boys disengaged from reading, you know the ones who just think that if they are holding a book you will be fooled into thinking they are reading! There is nothing more rewarding as a teacher than guiding those children to find books and authors that they grow to love.

How long have you been writing? And what have you written?

I have been writing for about 8 years and have published poetry and two picture books so far, Wobbly Boots & The Hair Ball, but I am finding an easy connection to middle grade fiction, possibly because I am one of 12 children and as a teacher I am surrounded by this age group every day.

Of your own work – do you have a favourite? Why is it your favourite?

Wobbly Boots is dear to me because it deals with a young child’s emotional journey when the adults they love make poor choices. The concept was born out of witnessing the pain young children find themselves in and if this publication helps even one child make sense of their world and come to a place of healing and forgiveness then it was all worth it.

What is your favourite genre to read? Why?

I would choose a middle grade novel over adult fiction any day. I enjoy the odd well written autobiography but when it comes to fiction, the mindset of a child is so much more fertile and receptive to unpredictable or unconventional plot lines. Maybe I’m just immature!

Do you have a favourite author?

Authors – Tim Winton for his beautifully complex characters, Shaun Tan for his ability to present such a fresh perspective, Julia Donaldson for her delightful rhyme and metre and Andy Griffiths for his wicked humour.

Did/do you have any writing heroes or mentors?

There are few ‘real’ modern day heroes these days but Andy Griffiths is definitely one. He is humble in his success and generous with his advice for fellow writers. An inspiration to so many children, Andy is living proof that a super-man needs neither height, muscles, fake tan or perfect hair to succeed in life and make the world a better place.

How do they encourage you?

By being willing to be accessible to fans and writers regardless of age or where you are on your writing journey.

Do you write full time?

I wish! I don’t believe the industry as a whole supports the concept of a full time writer, it’s just a romantic notion … a myth. Most writers have an alternate paid job, be it inside or outside the industry, for financial support or at the very least, a wage earning spouse.

What are your other jobs?

I teach primary aged children which enables me to be immersed on a daily basis in the language, emotions and interactions of children who are the same age as my characters. It provides me with a rich pool of ideas, a sounding board for plot lines and gives me instant feedback chapter by chapter.

Have you ever won an award/s or been shortlisted? What was it for?

The Hair Ball was shortlisted for the Speech Pathology Australia Book of the Year Awards in 2014 and I have several manuscripts which placed very well in the CYA Conference Competition in the last couple of years.

Do you belong to any professional organisations? What are they and how do they help you?

The ASA & SCBWI provide me with what I see as a safety net of professional advice and a broad range of opportunities to develop my craft.

Do you participate in writing workshops as a student? Which ones were memorable?

Workshops run by Sally Rippin, Karen Tayleur and Alison Lester were all memorable for the honest way they shared their writing journey as all of them have worked hard for the success they have achieved.

How might you be contacted in relation to running workshops or for school visits?

contactspiderlee@gmail.com

We all know that would be writers should read and write as much as possible – do you have any other advice?

I keep a reading journal and write down all my thoughts about a book as soon as I finish reading it. Publishing details, what worked and what didn’t, if I related to the characters and felt emotionally invested in the storyline. I reflected back though this when I am editing manuscripts to help me compare the calibre of my work to texts which publishers obviously felt were marketable.

How might people find you? Website, Blog, Facebook etc.

www.spiderlee.net.au
www.facebook.com.artbyspiderlee
https://www.facebook.com/kelly.hunter.1253
http://spiderlee.net.au/blog/