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!
Davina Bell is a writer for young people of many ages, and a children’s book editor. Her award-winning and Notable picture books include 'Under the Love Umbrella', 'The Underwater Fancy-dress Parade', 'Oh Albert!' and 'Hattie Helps Out'. She is also the author of the Alice books in Penguin’s best-selling Our Australian Girl series, the Lemonade Jones series, and a young-adult novel that was shortlisted for the Text Prize and will be published in 2020.
A lover of words and ideas in many forms, Davina regularly travels the country, speaking to children and adults about books and writing. The magic of picture books continues to enchant her.
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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 studied Law at university, but knew from Day 1, Lecture 1 that I would be hopeless at at. So when I finished the degree, I moved from Perth to Melbourne to study Professional Writing and Editing at RMIT, and from there I became an Editorial Assistant at an educational publisher, and then an editor at Penguin Books in the Young Readers division.
Q. What is the best thing for you about being a published author?
A. I think it's a tie between the beautiful emails I get from parents and teachers and kids, sharing their responses to my books (oftentimes these are so moving that I'm in tears!) and sharing my books with children at bookshops and schools. And I guess the feeling when you're deep into writing and the rest of the world disappears. I think it's called 'flow', and in the rare moments it shows up, it's magical.
Q. What are some of the key ingredients that make a great book for kids?
A. The ability to elicit from child readers some combination of comfort, joy and wonder. Humour, beauty and heart are at the core of all the kids' books that I love.
Q. What advice would you give someone who is just starting out as a writer or illustrator?
A. You become a writer or illustrator when you stop trying to be one - to sound like a writer or draw like somebody else. There's no substitute for just sitting down and doing the work. It's in those gritty hours that you will discover who you are as a creator and what it is that only you can say. I also love this slightly depressing but ultimately comforting piece of advice from the novelist Zadie Smith: Resign yourself to the lifelong sadness that comes from never being satisfied.
Q. What is your next big creative project?
A. A series of middle-grade novels for 8-12 year olds, inspired by my love of the TV show 'Gilmore Girls' and iconic tween books series The Baby-Sitters Club. The first title is being published by Hardie Grant Egmont in May 2019 and it's called 'Sophia and the Corner Park Clubhouse'. It's about friendship and grief and hope and a giant rabbit. It's been such a privilege to write the kind of book that I would have liked to read as a child.