Australian Author of Children’s Books and Teen Books: December 2011

Friday, December 16, 2011

2011 in Review

Here are a few of my favourite moments from 2011. I had a cracking year. Hope you look back on it fondly, too.
I met and hung out with lots of cool authors and kidlit folks. From L to R,
Kristina Schulz, Tristan Bancks, James Moloney, Wendy Orr, James Roy.
With author, John Danalis.
Taking Simon Higgins' sword for a spin.
We revamped my website, designed by my lovely wife, Amber Melody. Here's one of the early design concepts.
I wanted it to feel like a work in progress, like something active and vigorous and fun.
I travelled a lot.
I visited the locations from my second Mac Slater book in New York.
I visited a bookstore outside L.A. where Henry Winkler (The Fonz) had recently been! Woohoo.
New York Public Library
My favourite building in the city... The Chrysler.
A misty, wet morning spent wandering Central Park. I felt like Holden Caulfield.
Hollywood, baby.
I spent a few days writing at the beautiful and very grounding Varuna Writers' House
in the Blue Mountains.
I swung on a rope swing at some stage.
One of my two new books... the very first copy. I am smiling as I take this.
I did lots of speaking about my books and children's literature and the creative process.
This is at Byron Bay Writers' Festival. Picture by James Roy.
At Voices on the Coast Festival. (I told them to go wild like this in order to give the sense
that my sessions are perhaps the most fun thing you are likely to encounter at a kidlit fest.)
I did a lot of Skype sessions.
On tour with Get Reading. From Townsville to Sydney to Wollongong to Melbourne to Geelong in five days.

Delivering 'My Life and Other Stuff I Made Up' talks at Ipswich Fest of Children's Literature
with my mate and the other half of Tom Weekly's brain, Gus Gordon.  
I loved seeing the books heading out into the world and chatting to kids about what they liked
and what was slightly too gross..
Being interviewed in a school's own TV studio!
People-watching and freewriting with kids at the State Library of Queensland.
I loved offering tools like modelling clay and drawing paper and toys and the web and magazines
as stimulus for stories in writing workshops this year. Cool critters and Jack Sparrow!
My jealousy of other authors' stamps became too much and I had one made. ;-)
Opening night of Brisbane Writers' Festival was incredible.
Nit Boy creation by a student!
And, of course, Bertie Bots Every Flavoured beans pilfered from Adele at the State Library of
Victoria's Centre for Youth Lit.
I finished up 2011 with three months of fairly solid writing and developing some new app
and TV projects for 2012. Looking forward to diving in but, first, two weeks screen-free. Sweet justice.
May you be well and happy.


Thursday, December 15, 2011

Room to Read : Meet Inkam

The video below illustrates why I support Room to Read, an organisation showing us that 'World change starts with educated children'. They have built more than 12,000 libraries in developing countries in the past 11 years. This video is a personal story of one of the six million children whose lives have been impacted by their global mission.

I showed the vid in schools this year and used it as a story starter. The results were interesting, with kids showing an easy ability to empathise and to place themselves in the shoes of a child with a life totally different and yet strangely similar to their own.

It's three minutes and worth a look. There are more Room to Read videos at

Wednesday, December 14, 2011

Children's Author Hazel Edwards : The Writer's Studio

Hazel Edwards is the 'authorpreneurial' (a term she coined) creator of more than 200 books such as There's a Hippopotamus on the Roof Eating Cake and The Business of Writing For Young People. She is a forward thinker with a dynamic web presence and personality. Here is a glimpse of her writing space and process.

Where did you write your latest book? How important to you is the space in which you write?
Most recently I've been working with illustrator-graphic designer Jane Connory and she lives in the next suburb, so we alternate studios or use Skype. Possibly the most extreme place in which I've written was an Antarctic polar ship 'The Polar Bird' when we were beset in the polar ice during an expedition to Casey Station in Antarctica. Usually I work in my study at home, but my lap top is well travelled. For my 'Frequent Flyer Twins' mystery e-books, I wrote a lot in airports. For the Project Spy Kids series, I visited a greyhound race.
Do you transform your space in any way for each book? Do you 'get into character' at all?
Sometimes I use maps or setting photos like Darwin for the 'Outback Ferals' YA novel. When I was writing 'Antarctic Closeup' about John Close and his telescope from the Mawson 1911-12 expedition, I had his face as my screensaver for months, as inspiration. Jane Connory made me a Frequent Flyer Twins t shirt with the logo and a coffee cup!
Hazel Edwards in her recently tidied office.
Do you keep regular writing hours? If not, when do you write?
I'm a fairly self-disciplined writer. I work more than 9-5pm, but I travel to research too.That's the fun bit.
The making of the short film There's a Hippopotamus On Our Roof Eating Cake based on Hazel Edwards' 1980
picture book.
Do you have a morning ritual?
Coffee. And a swim or walk late afternoon for plotting. Authors need to exercise more than their imaginations.
For more writer's spaces, check out The Guardian's excellent 'Writers' Rooms' series or more children's authors in 'The Writer's Studio'.

Monday, December 12, 2011

Australian Children's Laureates Announced

Exciting news that Alison Lester and Boori Monty Pryor have been announced as the inaugural Australian Children's Laureates, following in the footsteps of the successful UK and US laureate programs. The Laureate roles will bring more children to books and literacy ahead of the 2012 National Year of Reading.

Read more on Boori and Alison and the new Australian Children's Literature Alliance here:

Congratulations to Boori and Alison. Fine choices to champion the importance of reading, a skill needed now, in this information-drenched age, more than ever.

Free Audio Story – 'The Dog Kisser'

'The Dog Kisser' illustration sketched live by Gus Gordon while I read the story at
'Ipswich Festival of Children's Literature'
Have you ever been kissed by a dog? If so, where do you draw the line? The hand? The neck? The face?

Well, whether you're a 'Kisser' or not, Merry Christmas. Here's my present to you. A free audio short story – The Dog Kisser – written and read by me, from my latest book My Life and Other Stuff I Made Up, a bunch of weird, funny, sometimes gross and partly true short stories illustrated by Gus Gordon.

I hope that Christmas is fun, relaxing and full of love – for both you and your canine pals.

Tuesday, December 6, 2011

Children's Author Susanne Gervay : The Writer's Studio

Susanne Gervay is a friend to many in Australian children's and young adult literature. She is a strong woman, funny, self-deprecating, a tireless networker, a generous spirit, a fine writer and, this year, was honoured with the Medal of the Order of Australia (OAM). Here, she shows us the engine room, where her exploits in kidlit manifest.

Where did you write your latest book? How important to you is the space in which you write?
In my home study. I wish I could say it was a romantic spot under an ancient tree, but it in my cluttered office with files and books and my computer switched on.
Do you transform your space in any way for each book? Do you 'get into character' at all?
My space gets messier and messier as I write and everything is put aside. I don’t transform my space for each book. However I do get into character. When I was writing That’s Why I Wrote This Song, Eminem and Good Charlotte rocked through my study. When I was writing Ships in The Field, I was a little girl again reliving growing up in a family which escaped war and communism to find home in Australia.

How has the place that you write evolved or changed since you first began writing novels?
It’s got messier with more files. It’s my internal life that evolves and deepens, rather than my physical space.
Do you keep regular writing hours? If not, when do you write?
If I could I’d write every morning, then work and carry on with the responsibilities of life and even have some ‘play time’. However the writing life has increased my involvement in tours, festivals, conferences. I also work at another job. There’s family, too. So I don’t have regular hours. I write under pressure and can stay up late into the nights for months to get a book completed. Not the best way to write.
Do you have a morning ritual? Roald Dahl was said to sharpen pencils. What settles your mind for writing?
My very early morning ritual is to go to the computer and see what emails have come. I answer those I need to. I love it if I have a writing project. I just finished co writing the film script for my JACK books – with John Larkin. However, I really don’t have a ritual. I’d like one.


Thursday, December 1, 2011

1000 Awesome Things

It's a big call but I think this talk is in the running for best TED talk ever. If you don't know yet, head over and check it out. The most amazing talks by extraordinary people (from Michelle Obama to Bono, Martin Seligman to Al Gore and tons of cool humans that you have never heard of) on a wide range of fascinating subjects.

Here, Neil Pasricha (blogger - 1000 Awesome Things) inspires us to be thankful for little things with a personal tale that has universal resonance.

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