About 200 episodes of So You Want To Be A Writer podcast ago, I created this lovely little round-up of insightful interviews with Australian children’s and YA authors.
I have decided that it’s high time for an update*.
If you’re hoping to be a published children’s or YA author one day, or if you’d just like to learn more about the processes behind some of your kids (okay, yours) favourite books, click the episode number to listen to the interview or read the transcript. Click the author’s name or book title to read more about them and their work.
10 Australian children’s/YA authors talk about writing
Rachel Spratt, also known as R A Spratt, is a bestselling Australian author and television writer. She is known for the Nanny Piggins and Friday Barnes series of books, which are both available in many territories worldwide, and a new middle grade series The Peski Kids. She also continues to write for television, specialising most recently in children’s animation.
I thoroughly enjoyed this frank and engaging discussion about the reality of being a children’s author, how to manage being published in different territories, and why a bugle is always a good idea for school visits. Episode 268.
Bren MacDibble is an Australian author of children’s fiction. She also writes YA fiction under the name Cally Black. In 2005, her first-ever YA novel, In the Dark Spaces, won the Ampersand Prize and publication with Hardie Grant Egmont, and went on to win the New Zealand Prize for CYA, a Queensland literary award, an Aurealis award, and a host of other awards, including being a CBCA honour book for 2018.
That same year, her middle grade novel, How to Bee, published by Allen and Unwin, won the CBCA Book of the Year for younger readers, and a string of other awards.
Bren and I discussed her latest middle grade novel, The Dog Runner, writing in a bus and managing two publishers and a hectic schedule! Episode 272.
Jenna Guillaume has been working and writing in team spaces for more than a decade, first in the features department at Girlfriend magazine, and more recently as editor-at-large at Buzzfeed Australia, specialising in pop culture, identity, feminism and social media.
We spoke about Jenna’s debut YA novel, What I Like About Me, and the role that social media played in landing her literary agent and promoting her book. Episode 274.
Amie Kaufman is a New York Times and internationally bestselling author of science fiction and fantasy for young and not so young adults. Her multi-award winning work is either published, or slated for publication, in more than 30 countries, and is in development for film and television. Her series, for YA and middle-grade, include The Illuminae Files, The Starbound Trilogy, Unearthed and Elementals.
Amie is, in short, a rock star and this lengthy interview is engaging and generous – one of my favourites. Episode 276.
Astrid Scholte writes YA fantasy and science fiction novels. Her debut novel, Four Dead Queens, was an international bestseller, selling into 12 territories, and she has a new novel on the way.
In this interview, Astrid takes my co-host Valerie Khoo all the way through the publishing process from germ of idea to finished book. Episode 280
Melina Marchetta is the author of ten novels, including the multi-award winning YA novels Looking for Alibrandi, Saving Francesca, and the 2009 Michael L. Printz Award winner On the Jellicoe Road. In 2011 her novel The Piper’s Son was longlisted for the Miles Franklin Award and shortlisted for the Prime Minister’s Literary Award. Her work has been made into feature films, translated into 18 languages, and published in 20 countries.
In this wide-ranging interview, we looked at the process behind Melina’s latest novel, The Place on Dalhousie, but also went all the way back to the beginning with Looking For Alibrandi – and everything in between. Episode 282.
James O’Loghlin is one of Australia’s most respected, entertaining and experienced corporate speakers, corporate comedians and media personalities, best known as the host of over 300 episodes of the much loved The New Inventors on ABC TV, and for his witty and entertaining programs on ABC Local Radio. He is also the author of ten books, including six for children.
James and I talked about ‘how to write funny’, and how he draws on his own experiences for his popular series The New Kid. Episode 287
In seven years, children’s author and illustrator Matt Stanton has created 23 original titles, four bestselling series, and sold more than 800,000 books. In 2017, his premiere middle grade series Funny Kid, which he writes and illustrates, debuted as the number one Australian kids’ book, and is now finding fans all over the world.
In this interview, Matt and I talked about everything from his background in graphic design and how that helps him through the process of writing and illustrating his books, to working closely with his wife, bestselling picture book creator Beck Stanton. Episode 290.
Mick Elliott is the author of the popular middle-grade trilogy The Turners, and a former producer at Nickelodeon Australia, working on programs such as Slime Fest, Camp Orange, The Kids Choice Awards, and squillions of commercials.
For his latest series Squidge Dibley, Mick added ‘illustrator’ to his CV, and was happy to discuss the challenges and triumphs he faced. Episode 294.
Pip Harry is an award-winning writer and editor. Her YA novels include I’ll Tell You Mine, winner of the Australian Family Therapists Children’s Literature Award (2013), Head of the River, longlisted for the Gold Inky award (2015) and shortlisted for the Adelaide Festival Literary awards (2016,) and Because of You, shortlisted for the CBCA Children’s Book of the Year Awards, Victorian Premier’s Literary Award and Queensland Literary Awards (2018).
Pip’s latest (middle-grade) novel, The Little Wave, is written in verse, and we had a terrific chat about the process. Episode 301.
And then there’s…
Of course, we don’t just speak to children’s and YA authors on the So You Want To Be A Writer podcast, oh no sirreeee! With 300+ episodes to choose from, we have something for everyone, so check out our full list of episodes here.
(If I were you, I’d listen to ALL of them. I can honestly say that I have learnt something different from every single one of the amazing authors who have given up their time to share their thoughts and expertise.)
And if you’d like the inside track, get yourself a copy of So You Want To Be A Writer, the book! With hundreds and hundreds of hand-picked tips on everything from the writing process to pitching a publisher, it’s the companion guide to the writing life that you need. More info and buy it here.
*Having done ten, I’ve now realised there AT LEAST another ten brilliant children’s author interviews I’ve left off, so stand by for an update on the update very soon!
Ten years ago I started a blog.
In the decade that followed my first terrible post (which disappeared in a blog clean-up some years ago), I have written hundreds and hundreds of blog posts as this blog morphed from being a daily blog about Life In A Pink Fibro into an author blog as I shared my (then) career as a freelance writer and my journey into becoming a published author of children’s fiction.
I’ve really struggled with writing this post. In the past, I’ve celebrated my blogging anniversary with posts about things I’ve learned about blogging in that year. I’ve listed them all at the end of this post so you can follow the whole journey.
I dallied with crowdsourcing the post by posting a Facebook callout, where regular readers shared their most memorable posts with me. Here are a few:
And so I opened the suitcase
6 tips for getting back into the swing with your writing
You will never find time to write your novel
But at the end of the day, I’ve decided that I’m going to do two things to celebrate this milestone.
- Share the biggest thing I’ve learned about blogging in 10 years.
- Share MY favourite posts from 10 years of blogging.
The biggest lesson I’ve learned about blogging in 10 years
So, the biggest lesson I’ve learned about blogging in 10 years is that blogging is about connections. The thing is, it didn’t really take me 10 years to grasp this. In fact, I blogged about it in my FIRST year. It’s called Why Blogging Is Not Writing and it also came up on the list of reader favourites.
This lesson was reinforced for me in the most painful of circumstances in January when a dear friend of mine – who I met through blogging and with whom I would never have made friends were it not for blogging – lost her beloved husband very suddenly. I think about her every day, and I make contact with her every few days, just to let her know I’m thinking of her. To connect.
If you’re not blogging to connect with people, you’re not doing it right.
Which brings me to…
My favourite posts from 10 years of blogging
These are not the most popular posts. They’re not necessarily the ones that bring the most traffic. They’re the posts that make me smile, the ones that remind me of how blogging really helped me to bring my writing voice down from ‘broadcast’ (think magazines, newspapers, writing for others) to ‘intimate’.
The ones that helped me to develop my inside voice.
Some of them are (gasp) posts I’ve written for other people’s blogs.
And here they are, in no particular order.
Getting ready for Big School is for the birds
It seemed like a good idea at the time
Are you ignoring your best ideas?
Why I love reluctant heroes
In writing, as in life, ride your own race
Where angels fear to tread
Words no parent wants to hear: “This could be highly dangerous.”
10 things to do while you’re waiting on your writing (I still hate waiting so I go back to this one often)
The big questions: birds and bees and … whales
So there you have it.
And here are some of those other posts about blogging I mentioned:
My top 3 tips from nine years of author blogging
The one thing I’ve learnt in my fifth year of blogging
My #1 tip for bloggers
Blogging: inviting readers home
12 things I learned in my 2nd year of blogging
Four things I learned in my fourth year of blogging
Three things I’ve learned in my third year of blogging
To those members of my community who have been with me since the Life In A Pink Fibro days, I say thank you for your comments, your encouragement and your support.
To those who’ve discovered the blog more recently, to visit regularly or just to pop in occasionally, I say thank you for jumping on board and sharing my journey.
If you’re new here, welcome! You can find out more about me and the various things I do here and more about my middle-grade books here.
Here’s to another 10 years!
I can’t believe it’s that time of the year again! I’m taking a break from the online world for a few weeks at the end of this week, so I thought I’d start sharing some of my ‘new year’ posts early, starting with this one.
I’m always fascinated to see which of my ‘writing’ posts resonate the most each year, and this year is no different. So here they are, in descending order from 10-1, the 10 most popular posts about writing on this site in 2018. (Click the title to see the full post)
The one superpower that all published writers have
Industry Insider: How do you know when a story is finished?
Ask the writer: How to build your author platform
Starting Out #3: Do you need to do a course to be a writer?
6 skills you need to make it as a copywriter
Writing for kids: How to create remarkable characters
Writing for kids: 10 top writing tips from bestselling author Jacqueline Harvey
My top 3 tips from nine years of author blogging
Industry Insider: How to tell when your writing is ‘good enough’
10 things I’ve learnt from writing my debut novel
Want more? You’ll find all of my posts about writing here.
Are you new here? Welcome to my blog! I’m the author of two epic adventure series for kids 9+, and you can find out more about me here. Click the images below to discover more about my books.
Goodness me, but that was a whirlwind. I can’t believe The Book Of Answers (Ateban Cipher #2) has been out for a week already. The Easter long weekend in the middle, plus the end of daylight savings, has left me with a strange jet-lagged feeling (what is it about that one ‘extra’ hour that makes such a difference?), but I thought I’d put together an update.
This blog is my record of all that goes on, so apologies if you’ve seen some of this on one of my various social media platforms, and “hello” if you’ve seen none of it.
A big thank you to my local booksellers (Dymocks Books Nowra and Dean Swift Books) for inviting me in to sign books for my local community. Our region is so lucky to still be so well served by bookshops (another fantastic bookshop in my area is Boobook On Owen and I hope to get there soon) and I feel blessed that, as an author outside a capital city, my local booksellers are so incredibly supportive.
Support your local bookshops everyone – they do an amazing job!
And, of course, if you’re not local and you’d like a signed copy, head to Booktopia, where I signed a stack before launch day – but get in quick because there aren’t many left. (Handy tip: use this link to order The Book Of Secrets and The Book Of Answers for $25)
First reviews of The Book Of Answers are starting to come through, and I was thrilled with this one from Ashleigh at The Book Muse:
“Gabe’s discoveries were unexpected but worked well with the story – and came at just the right time, with the right pacing. Overall, the elements of The Book of Answers worked really well together, and all the elements tied together nicely at the end. A great read for children aged ten and older, and adults if they like these sorts of stories, and it is a nice quick read as well, which is all down to the well-written pacing of the story.”
Speaking of reviews, Quinn and the rest of the crew of The Mapmaker Chronicles series continue to find fans and friends all over the world. I was absolutely thrilled with this series review by Erik of This Kid Reviews Books:
“I really liked this entire series. Five out of five bookworms all-around! Yay!
Having the books available in the US, the UK, and other territories means that they are finding new readers all the time, which just makes me feel like a proud parent. And, given it was Erik’s fabulous blog that inspired Book Boy to begin his own blog a few years ago, I’m just chuffed with his review of each book (click here to read them all).
Kid reviewers are the best!
Writers might be interested in a couple of podcast chats I’ve had this week.
On this week’s episode (228) of So You Want To Be A Writer, Val and I had a chat about the strange sensations of launch week and why my online community (that’s you!) is so important to me at this time. (If you haven’t discovered my podcast as yet, there’s more info about it here.)
I also talked to Kel Butler from the Writes4Women podcast about author platforms – what they are, why you need one and where to put your energies. Lots to think about.
In related news, for those of you who have young writers and who live on (or near) the south coast, I’m experimenting with some school holiday writing workshops for kids on Wednesday 18 April 2018. There are two sessions, one for kids aged 9-11, one for the 12-14 set.
Click the link for each age group to see all the details and book a spot for your young writer (but be quick – each workshop is limited to 10 young writers and tickets are selling fast).
Okay, I think that just about covers a very big week. Thank you for reading this far and thanks you once again for all your support.
Somehow my author blog turned nine and I missed it. When I started writing here, the blog was called Life In A Pink Fibro and it was a mish-mash of thoughts and parenting and writing and reading and…
Hmmm, looks like not that much has changed, only I don’t blog DAILY like I used to.
Daily. Excellent for downloading the brain and building a blog, but not so brilliant for putting actual words in actual novels.
But I digress.
To celebrate entering my 10th year of blogging – which makes me pretty much a centenarian in blog years – I thought I’d rustle up my top three tips specifically for author bloggers.
- Work out why you’re blogging
It took me about five years to get to the bottom of this. I started out with the blog because a wise friend suggested I should. I blogged daily because a) I liked it and b) that’s what all the blogging experts said you should do to build a blog.I realised that I’d written 350,000 words on my blog one year and cut back to three times a week because – well, 350,000 words is about three adult fiction manuscripts.Lots and lots of people visited my blog. People approached me about taking advertising, raising the word ‘monetise’. I said no*.
One day, I put up a chicken soup recipe (in my defence, it’s a really good one). My dear friend Kerri Sackville emailed to ask, politely, WTF I thought I was doing. “You are not a food blogger,” she said. “You are an author.”
She was right. I looked at all the things I was doing on my blog. I mean, really looked at it for the first time in five years. And I made some changes.
I blog to share my thoughts, an insight into my author life, and news about my books. I try to share useful information and insights about writing and publishing because I know that’s what my community wants (how do I know? I asked them). I offer space on my blog to other authors because I strongly believe in sharing the love and the insight, and I keep lists of recommended children’s books because I know, as a parent, how difficult it can be to keep kids reading.
This blog is not about traffic, it’s about community.
As I wrote in my fifth year of blogging, I blog because it’s worth it.
Why do you blog?
- Don’t overthink it
There’s an awful lot of information out there about blogging – from optimal word lengths for posts to how many sub-heads you should have to which latest tech improvement you should be making the most of. My advice for author bloggers? Don’t overthink it.You are an author. You are a writer. So, write things.When I’m wondering what to blog about, as I wrote in this post last year, I ask myself three questions:
• what am I thinking about?
• what am I feeling?
• what can I do that’s useful?
And then I write about one of those things. I don’t ignore SEO, but neither do I obsess over it. I try to think about what I would search to find that particular post and I go with that.
- Blogging is more than platform building
Every year when I write my annual ‘what I’ve learnt in X years of blogging’ post I come back to one thing: blogging has been so very good for my writing.When I began the blog, I was a fulltime freelance journalist (or as fulltime as one could be with a three year old in tow) and I had been writing for magazines and newspapers for nearly two decades. I had a very well-defined, most excellent broadcast voice. An outside voice, if you like.
What blogging every day gave me was my own voice. My inside voice.
Good blogging requires you to look closely, to reveal what you think, how you feel. It shows you that a whole story can be found in a tiny moment in your day. As an example, compare my first ever blog post with this one, where I was starting to get the hang of it all.
Blogging was a great tool for helping me to find my voice as an author. Obviously, you don’t need to go public on a blog to do this, but if you’re struggling to really find ‘you’ in your writing, look at a daily journal of some kind. But there is something about ‘putting it out there’ that helps to focus the mind – and, of course, bring readers to your website.
And now… here’s to another 12 months!
You’ll find more thoughts on authors and blogging here:
Blogging: Inviting Readers Home
Social Media For Writers #1: Blogging (featuring Jane Friedman)
Let’s talk about blogging and authors
Why blogging is not writing
My #1 tip for bloggers
How to write a better blog
Or take a look at my online course at the Australian Writers’ Centre on How To Build Your Author Platform.
*For the record, I did introduce bookseller affiliate links on the blog around 18 months ago, as per the disclosure here.