Welcome to the Writers' Clubhouse. Join us behind the scenes in the book industry as we talk to prominent authors and illustrators about the process of creating great books for kids. Have you ever wanted to be writer? Get inspired here!
Fiona Harris is an Australian writer and actor, with an extensive CV including stage and television performances, scriptwriting, skit writing and children's story creation. Her first books for kids were released in 2013/4 under the pseudonym Holly Bell, but she's best known for The Super Moopers - a collaboration with author Sally Rippin and illustrator Scott Edgar. This charming, uplifting series for early readers celebrates the quirky, funny, silly things that make us unique.
We spoke to Fiona about what inspires her as a writer, and asked what advice she would give to emerging writers.
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Q: You have written some amazing books for children, but what was your professional background before you became an author?
A: I was, and still am, an actor and a scriptwriter. For many years I have acted in lots of different TV shows, theatre shows and a few films. I have also written lots of theatre shows for kids, as well as adults, and TV shows like Prank Patrol. I’ve always loved writing and performing for kids, which is what led me to try writing books for kids as well. I found that I loved it! I also do work for Story Box Library, which is how I met the wonderful Sally Rippin. We started working on The Super Moopers together, and that’s how I got my first publishing deal.
Q: What is the best thing for you about being a published author/illustrator?
A: It’s definitely seeing the looks on kids’ faces when they are either listening to, or reading, words that I’ve written. I gives me a huge thrill to see them laughing, or looking shocked, or sad…depending on what is happening in the story. It shows me that they care about, and are engaged with, what is happening to the characters, and for a writer there is no better reward than that! It’s also very cool to be able to do what I love and get paid for it!
Q: What are some of the key ingredients that make a great book for kids?
A: Well-rounded, funny and engaging characters, humour, heart and a great story arc.
Q: What advice would you give someone who is just starting out as a writer?
A: Read, read and read some more! If you’re having trouble thinking of a character or a story, look at your own life as a starting point. A great way to begin is to write what you love and know. For example, what experience or situation in your life would make an interesting story? Who in your family might be a good person to base a character on? What would be a huge problem that would be difficult to solve in your life? What is an experience you’ve had that could be made funny or sad or exciting?
Looking for some great examples of kids' books to inspire your writing? Look for these titles in stores, online or in your local library.
Images courtesy of Fiona Harris's website: http://www.fionaharris.com/