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!
Deborah Abela is an author of many books for children of all ages. You may know her from titles like the 'Remy' series, 'Jasper Zammit (Soccer Legend)' and 'Ghost Club' series or 'The Remarkable Secret of Aurelie Bonhoffen'. Her latest novels 'Grimsdon' and 'New City' tell the story of young people fighting for their survival in a world ravaged by climate change.
Deborah has won many awards for her books including the USBBY Outstanding International Book Award, KOALA, YABBA, Aurealis & Speech Pathology Awards and the Maurice Saxby Award for services to children's literature.
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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. If you don’t count the time I was a ride operator at Luna Park, my first job was script assistant at a TV production house called Southern Star (think, Secret Life of Us, Love My Way, Offspring). I was then employed at the drama department at Network TEN before becoming the producer/writer at the national kids’ show Cheez TV for 7 years. I’ve been writing full time ever since.
Q. What is the best thing for you about being a published author?
A. The kids. It is so humbling and uplifting to hear from a reader who says how much they love your books, or how they were clearing their book shelves and just couldn’t throw away the Max Remy novels or how a book I wrote made them laugh or cry or made them feel understood. I LOVE working with kids, telling them stories, letting them know the stories they have are powerful….and that writing and reading are fun!
Q. What are some of the key ingredients that make a great book for kids?
A. Being kid centric, kid driven and kid focused. It has to speak TO the child reader, not AT them.
Q. What advice would you give someone who is just starting out as a writer?
A. Use your gut. Write what you love and what gets you excited. Write from your heart. Love your characters, respect your readers and just start. Immerse yourself in the kids’ writing world – listen to podcasts, join writers’ groups and professional writing organisations, sign up for workshops, conferences, festivals and read, read, read.
Q. What is your next big creative project?
A. A few years ago I became very cranky about inaction on climate change and wrote a novel called Grimsdon, about kids living in a flooded city, using flying machines and their wits to combat sea monsters, sneaker waves and evil harbour lords. What followed was a flood of cranky emails from kids, pleading with me to write more, which became New City. The cranky emails continued, so I am now writing the third and FINAL novel, called Final Storm, which has new inventions, new bad guys, robotic rescue eagles and ice storms, all still led by my feisty female hero, Isabella Charm.