Today we welcome Aleesah Darlison to talk about her books, and what being a writer is like!
What do you like most about being a writer?
Sharing my stories with other people. Creating characters and scenes and settings, becoming lost in other worlds and playing make believe just to see where it can take me. And I just adore working with illustrators, having them bring my story to life in a way I never could because I can only draw stick figures.
Are there any downsides to being a writer?
Having to do everything on your own, like marketing your book, organising events and managing your money. As a writer, you’re basically running a business so you have to wear lots of different hats. It isn’t easy switching from one thing to another and it’s hard to find the time to do everything. Luckily, I don’t need much sleep and I’m super efficient!
What brought you to write your first book?
I’ve been writing since I was a teenager and I wrote lots of books (that were never published) as an adult. I would work during the day and write at night. When I decided to make writing a proper career four years ago, I chose to write for children because I had two of my own. They gave me lots of ideas for stories and I also used memories and experiences from my own childhood to write other stories.
Was it easy to get your first book published?
The first novel for children that I wrote, Rodeo Brumby, was about a brumby horse named Racer, who is captured and sold into the rodeo. I really, really loved writing that story and I still believe in it with all of my heart, but it hasn’t been taken up by a publisher yet. Maybe one day.
Since then, I have had other books accepted for publication, though. The first one to come out is Puggle’s Problem, which is a picture book. I had to do lots of drafts of the story before it was ready to be sent off to publishers. After several years and several rejections, Wombat Books, said they wanted to publish it. More redrafting followed before the book was finally ready to be printed. So, I would have to say it isn’t easy getting any book published, but it’s certainly worth all the hard work.
Of your own books, which is your favourite?
I love them all! Each one is different and special in its own right. I believe in each character and story and theme or issue that I’m writing about. Every book has a story behind it and takes a long time to make just right. Puggle’s Problem is special to me because it’s about a gorgeous puggle, a baby echidna, and it’s my first ever picture book. My series for girls aged 9+, Totally Twins, which will be out in September, is special because it’s funny and quirky. It’s illustrated, too (by Serena Geddes), so it has a little added bonus for readers. Totally Twins is about identical twins, Persephone and Portia Pinchgut. I always wanted to have an identical twin when I was a kid, so writing Totally Twins was a way for me to live out a childhood fantasy – finally!
Are you working on a book/project at the moment?
I’m working on a few new projects, including a humorous picture book about an accidentally adventurous spider named Iggy.
Did you have a favourite children’s book when you were growing up?
I read loads of books when I was a kid. I actually used to get in trouble for reading so much! My favourite books were from the Narnia series by C.S. Lewis, like The Lion, The Witch and The Wardrobe. Even now I’m older I read loads of kids’ books. One of my favourite authors is Victor Kelleher and one of my favourite picture book illustrators/authors is Bruce Whatley.
Do you have any advice for young writers?
Read a lot. Write a lot. Don’t be afraid to share your work with other people – how they react to your stories will teach you how to write better stories. Ask your parents to take you to see as many authors and illustrators as you can so you can learn what it’s like to be one.