COVER REVEAL: ‘The Fire Star’, new from A.L. Tait

COVER REVEAL: ‘The Fire Star’, new from A.L. Tait

I am so very excited to share the beautiful cover of THE FIRE STAR (A Maven & Reeve Mystery), published by Penguin Books Australia on 1 September 2020.

The Fire Star, new from A.L. Tait


Step inside the castle. The mystery awaits . . .

A maid with a plan.

A squire with a secret.

A missing jewel.

A kingdom in turmoil.

Maven and Reeve have three days to solve the mystery of the Fire Star.

This could be a complete disaster . . . or the beginning of a great friendship.

Hasn’t the Penguin team done a wonderful job? I CANNOT WAIT for you and your young readers (12+) to meet Maven and Reeve and share their adventures.

You can pre-order through Booktopia here, through your favourite online bookseller here, or order at your local bookshop for delivery on 1 September.

Let the countdown begin!

Are you new here? Welcome to my blog! I’m Allison Tait, aka A.L. Tait, and I’m the author of two epic middle-grade adventure series, The Mapmaker Chronicles and The Ateban Cipher.

 You can find out more about me here, and more about my books here.

NEWS: New novel on the way

NEWS: New novel on the way

I’m thrilled to announce that I’ve signed a contract with Penguin Random House Australia for a new novel.

Frustratingly, that’s as much information as I can give you right now!

But I’m excited and can’t wait to share more details as they come to hand.

In other book news, today marks the fifth anniversary of the day Race To The End Of The World, the first book in The Mapmaker Chronicles series (and my debut children’s novel), was launched.

With six children’s novels now published, and a new one on the way, I can honestly say that five years has both passed in the blink of an eye – and felt like an age.

If you and/or your children have bought, borrowed, read, reviewed, talked about or otherwise engaged with any of my books over those five years, thank you for your wonderful support. It is so much appreciated.

I look forward to sharing the new book with you in due course.

Are you new here? Welcome to my blog! I’m Allison Tait, aka A.L. Tait, and I’m the author of two epic middle-grade adventure series, The Mapmaker Chronicles and The Ateban Cipher.

You can find out more about me here, and more about my books here.


The 6 Cs of writing a novel

The 6 Cs of writing a novel

The 6 Cs of writing a novel | allisontait.comIn case you missed it, the latest round of #writeabookwithal is over and I have finished the first draft of my latest manuscript. It is, brace yourselves, the 15th first draft fiction manuscript that I have written.


Four were written before my first children’s novel (The Mapmaker Chronicles: Race To The End Of The World) was published and I doubt that we will ever see that fab four again.

Since TMC #1 came out, I have written five manuscripts that are now published novels, plus five more, including this new one. News on all of those various projects will be with you once I have it to hand.

Anyhoo, my point is that I’ve written a few now and it got me to thinking about the various ingredients that are common to all of them. So I’ve packaged them up neatly as Cs because a) it’s been a while between blog posts, b) it amused me to use a maths concept in my creative writing post and c) that’s how I roll.


I’ve put this one first because it’s hard to write a novel without an idea. Sometimes, though, I think the bigger challenge is working out which idea will sustain a novel and which is the starting point for a character (which will then be subsumed into a larger idea), which is the basis of a scene (which will then be subsumed into a larger story), and which is a short story all by itself.

The reality is that some of my many ideas are just half-formed fragments that end up in notebooks and stay there, taunting me forever.

The most difficult ideas, for me, are those that present themselves as ‘I’d like to write a book about X’, or ‘I’m going to write a mystery story’. For me, that’s not an idea, it’s a theme, or a genre.

The best and most creative ideas are specific. Often weirdly specific. And, for me, they usually present themselves as a question and a feeling.

The Mapmaker Chronicles came from that feeling you get when you look out into a clear night sky (where are the edges? what’s at the edges?) and a specific question: How did they map the world? (You can read about it here)

The Ateban Cipher novels came from the feeling I got when I looked at The Book Of Kells (I wanted to take it home) and a specific question: Why would you write a book that no-one can read? (You can read about it here)


If you have always been someone who can write – that is, sit down at school, or university, or wherever, and have words pour out onto the page when required – craft is often something that you come to later. It’s often about the time that you write the first draft of your first novel, all 70,000 words of it, and think that your work is done.

In fact, it’s the time that you submit that first draft to an agent who comes back to you with these words: “What would you like me to do with this? There’s some nice writing in here but it is in no way ready to send out.”

Or maybe that’s just me.

Valerie Khoo and I have often discussed on our podcast that you don’t know what you don’t know. I discovered this lesson the hard way when I had the above exchange with an agent. I knew I could write a sentence – hadn’t I been doing that for years as a features writer? What I didn’t know was how to write fiction. Not really.

I was lucky enough to have had a good head start, thanks to all of my years of reading and working with words. But I had a lot to learn, and that’s where craft comes in.

Structure, character development, logical plotting, pacing… Take the courses, do the reading, go to the workshops at festivals, join writers’ groups. Whatever works for you.

I’m still learning a lot the hard way, because I still write without a detailed plan. I have to write it to see what it is, which is not the most efficient way of managing a publishing career.

But at least I now know what I don’t know.


If you had told Teenage Me that I’d one day be a published author and that I’d spend half my time walking around the block trying to work through logical solutions to problems that I had created myself, Teenage Me would have laughed.

Teenage Me thought that creative writing was all about… creativity. Little did Teenage Me know (about this and so many things, right Mum?)

When I do my school visits these days, I like to talk about writing superpowers. And when I tell the ‘maths kids’ and the ‘science kids’ that they have one of the greatest writing superpowers ever, I can see their confusion.

But so much of what we do as writers is problem solving.

If this happens, what happens next?

If that happens, what happens next?

And every decision has to come back to your character, and what your character would do in that situation.

Not what you would do. What your character would do.

Not what you, as the writer, needs your character to do to fix this festering plot hole you have created. What your character would logically do.

No wonder Procrastipup and I do so much walking (which is a great way to work through logical solutions, if you’re looking for one).


Look, I wish that talking about writing got the writing done. I wish that I could tell you that your novel will write itself.

But it doesn’t, and it won’t.

If you want to write a novel, you have to commit to the process. You have to make the time. You have to write the words.

Yes, you.

It’s not easy. You’ll have to make sacrifices. You need to show up.

But that’s what it takes.

If you need some help to get the words written, you can read my blog post here, or you can take my 30-Day Creative Writing Bootcamp (10,000 words in 30 days. Yes, you).


I well remember the first time I received a structural edit (you can read about it here). I have still been known to cry. But editing – fixing (correcting) what is wrong with your manuscript – is an essential part of the process.

The trouble with a big edit is that it feels like an insurmountable problem. How can you possibly make all of these changes when every single change you make affects the entire story?

The answer, of course, is that you climb that insurmountable mountain one step at a time.

I’ve got some tips on how to edit your own writing here, and some tips from a professional editor here.


I call it courage. Others, as one person on Twitter told me in no uncertain terms [insert eyeroll emoji], call it confidence. Perhaps it’s a blend of the two.

It’s the blind faith that will carry you through the process of sitting alone in a room for the countless hours it takes to write your novel, then the countless hours of hard graft it takes to edit your novel and then, right at the very end, the sheer will it takes to press ‘send’ to either submit your work to a traditional publisher or publish your work yourself – and it is not for the faint-hearted.

Putting your thoughts on the page and then handing them over to someone else to read isn’t easy.

Dealing with rejection isn’t easy.

There are a lot of people out there who say they’re going to ‘write a novel one day’.

To me, it takes courage to try.

Are you new here? Welcome to my blog! I’m Allison Tait, aka A.L. Tait, and I’m the author of two epic middle-grade adventure series, The Mapmaker Chronicles and The Ateban Cipher.

 You can find out more about me here, and more about my books here.

And check out So You Want To Be A Writer: How To Get Started (While You Still Have A Day Job), co-authored with Valerie Khoo and based on our top-rating podcast.

News, reviews + interviews (August 2019)

News, reviews + interviews (August 2019)

You might need a cup of tea for this one…

August  has been a crazy-busy month, featuring planes, trains and automobiles, Book Week, the MS Readathon, the first Your Kid’s Next Read Live event, and media appearances on television, radio and in print. Add to that the business of writing a new manuscript, and I’m a bit surprised I’m still upright.

These monthly posts are collated for the purposes of keeping a record on this blog of my author life, so thanks for sticking with me.

Where to begin…


The month kicked off with the launch of the 2019 MS Readathon, and, in my role as author ambassador for this year’s event, I visited The Illawarra Grammar School. My boys were very excited to see me on the 6pm news that night!

It was a terrific start for a wonderful event, and I was thrilled to see that, as of last week, the MS Readathon had raised over $1 million, and kids at 3,500 schools had read more than 75,000 books!

A few weeks later, I was sitting with a great group of kids at the CBCA (Illawarra-South Coast Branch) Literary Lunch, which is always a great day out. This year, I was asked to give the writing workshop for the event, which was a great honour.


And then, before I knew it, Book Week was upon us! This year, I visited schools in Sydney, Brisbane and Milton, talking to around 1500 excited and enthusiastic kids in total.












I was blown away by the warm welcomes I received in every school and, in particular, the library team at Citipointe Christian College in Brisbane were next level with their enormous floating Ateban Cipher and their escape room based on The Book Of Secrets. Teacher-librarians are truly an amazing bunch!

(If you’d like me to visit your school or event, check out my speaking page here.)

And, last but not least for my Book Week report, I’m thrilled to announce that the first-ever Your Kid’s Next Read Live Event + Meet-Up was a smashing success.

Nervously awaiting the crowd! From left, Megan Daley, Allison Tait, Allison Rushby, the admin team behind Your Kid’s Next Read.

The Living Room at St Aidan’s, Brisbane.








Answering some of our community’s most pressing questions about kids and books.

We had a lot of laughs along the way!








Megan Daley, Allison Rushby and I were delighted by the response of our YKNR community, and enjoyed meeting you all, talking about books and answering your questions! (Allison R. particularly enjoyed the incredible grazing table at St Aidan’s school…)

We’re hoping to do it all again in another location soon, so keep an eye on the YKNR community Facebook page for details.


How could I possibly resist sharing this fantastic review, by a grade six boy, of The Mapmaker Chronicles: Race To The End Of The World, in the window of the library at Waverley College as part of a display for Book Week?

“This book is an amazing book where the characters are loveable, the story is exciting with many nail-biting moments and plenty of action!”

I’ll take that, and say thank you very much!

In other news, this review of So You Want To Be A Writer: How To Get Started (While You Still Have A Day Job), my book with Valerie Khoo based on our top-rating podcast, also made my day!

I absolutely love the fact that the reviewer Annamaree is someone who said ‘I’d love to write a book’ over and over and, after reading this book, is inspired to actually do something about it!

She says:

If writing is something that you have thought about but never done anything about, then I suggest that you get your hands on a copy of this book and absorb all the wonderful information contained within.”

It’s exactly the response that Val and I were hoping for!


I’ve been interviewed several times for radio over the past month, mostly in my role as MS Readathon Ambassador, and often at very short notice. It’s always an interesting process – in one case, I was huddled under a tree in a windswept park in Rose Bay, trying to sound sensible – and it never quite goes the way you expect.

It reminded me that I’ve been meaning to write a ‘how to be interviewed’ post for this blog for ages, so I’ve put it back on the To Do list. Let me know in the comments if there are any questions in particular you’d like me to cover!

Are you new here? Welcome to my blog! I’m Allison Tait, aka A.L. Tait, and I’m the author of two epic middle-grade adventure series, The Mapmaker Chronicles and The Ateban Cipher.

 You can find out more about me here, and more about my books here.


News, reviews + interviews [June]

News, reviews + interviews [June]

I used to blog every day. Can you believe that? I can’t. I find it particularly difficult to imagine in months like this, where weeks fly by like hours and I pop in here to write something and realise it’s been a month since I’ve shown my face.

But I digress.

This post is going to be like one of those Christmas letters we used to receive in the days before Facebook showed us the inner workings of the lives of our friends and family on a daily basis.

An easy, breezy catch-up, light on detail, strong on the highlights, glossing over the bad bits that nobody really wants to know about anyway.

So where have I been?



It’s been a busy month for school visits and other events. One of the highlights was, of course, the So You Want To Be A Writer Live event at Vivid Sydney on 8 June.

So You Want To Be A Writer Live event at Vivid Sydney

“How are ya, Al?” The event incorporated all the things that listeners love about our podcast – and more!


Allison Tait, Pamela Freeman, Candice Fox, Valerie Khoo at Vivid | allisontait.com

Our Power Panel: Allison Tait, Pamela Freeman, Candice Fox, Valerie Khoo.

So YOu Want To Be A Writer live at Vivid | allisontait.com

Valerie and I were thrilled to see so many people packed into the MCA for the live recording.







(If you missed out, click here to listen to the special live podcast episode.)

Thanks to everyone who came along and gave So You Want To Be A Writer (the book) such a brilliant welcome into the world.

Buy your copy here.


Last weekend, I headed down to Milton to participate in three sessions at the inaugural Storyfest festival.

A.L. Tait and Jaclyn Moriarty at Storyfest | allisontait.com

Panel at storyfest | allisontait.com







It was a wonderful day, and included the opportunity to interview the charming Jaclyn Moriarty (above left) about her children’s books (and if you’d like to get an idea of what that might have included, listen to my earlier podcast interview with Jaclyn here).

And then there was the chance to talk about adventure stories with Meredith Jaffe, and a very entertaining panel about podcasts and audio books with Pamela Cook, David Hunt and Katherine Collette (above right).

Note to self: organise audio versions of A.L. Tait’s books asap!


The pace of my year does not look like slowing any time soon. Upcoming events include:

•Whitsunday Voices Youth Literature Festival, Mackay, Qld, 17-19 July, 2019 (Program here)

Shoalhaven Readers’ & Writers’ Festival, Nowra, NSW, 27 July, 2019: I’m teaching a limited-places writing workshop for kids 9-13 at 12 noon. (Details here.) 

If you’d like to talk to me about speaking at your school or event, go here.

And stand by for a couple of other very exciting announcements.


ALA book review The Book Of Secrets | allisontait.com


“A fast-paced adventure brimming with mystery and complex navigations of loyalty and morality.”

I was thrilled by this review of THE BOOK OF SECRETS on Booklist Online, the review site of the American Library Association. Read the full book review here. 


It is true that I tend to interview people rather than being interviewed, and I can vouch for the fact that we have some very exciting and entertaining guests coming up on the So You Want To Be A Writer podcast over the next few weeks.

One interview I particularly enjoyed was this one, with US author Peter Rock. If you want to know why, you’ll need to listen to it but suffice to say that Peter enjoyed a year at an Australian school ‘back in the day’ and we shared an English teacher for that year. I always knew he’d end up a writer – even if he didn’t!

From the other side of the microphone, thanks to Nick Rheinberger, ABC Illawarra, for having me on his morning show recently to talk about the So You Want To Be A Writer book.

Are you new here? Welcome to my blog! I’m Allison Tait, aka A.L. Tait, and I’m the author of two epic middle-grade adventure series, The Mapmaker Chronicles and The Ateban Cipher.

 You can find out more about me here, and more about my books here.

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