On Friday we met an enthusiastic group of young writers at the City of Vincent Library in Leederville (WA). The afternoon was off to a festive start with door prizes to celebrate our third birthday—Riley and the Dancing Lion, a set of the complete Jake series (so far!), a writer’s notebook-and-pen, and Pearlie in Paris. Annette Flexman—one of the magazine’s illustrators—drew a pirate ship for everyone to collage and colour, and also assisted with the folding of origami sailboats (sailing is the theme of our spring issue!). Photos to come!
We had a great time. A big thank you to all our young writers who attended and wrote such brilliant poems and book reviews. (We’ll be sharing some of their book reviews on the blog later this week, so stay tuned.)
Have you ever thought it’s too hard to be a writer when you are still growing up? Keep writing, and don’t give up! We’re thrilled to have teenager, Laura Dudgeon, visiting us today. Her first book, Lilli and Her Shadow was published earlier this year. Laura Dudgeon was born in Darwin in 1993 and is descended from the Beniol Bardi people from north of Broome.
Before we begin, here’s a bit about the book.
Lilli and Her Shadow is a first chapter book about a girl whose family is moving to the city from the bush. Lilli is not looking forward to it and knows she’ll miss everything about the bush, including her cousins and especially her nan. But when she gets to the city, she discovers Nan has sent her something to help her settle in to her new place. A secret Shadow …
Lilli and Her Shadow is part of the Waarda series, a new Indigenous children’s series published by Fremantle Press. (Waarda is Nyungar for talking and sharing stories and information).
Lilli and Her Shadow was co-written with your aunt, Pat Dudgeon. How did you come to write the book?
I have been writing short stories ever since I was 8, so when Aunty Pat got this opportunity she asked me if I would like to be a co-author with her.
Is the character, Lilli, like you?
Yes she is. Lilly’s experiences and emotions where based on my own when I moved from Darwin to the big city of Perth when I was 8.
What do you love best about being a writer?
I love how I have no limits to the creation of a story. I have always had a wild imagination and putting it on paper and sharing it with others brings me great joy.
Is there any ‘downside’ to being a writer?
When you do something you love and get paid for it there really isn’t a downside.
When do you find time to write?
On the weekends and after school if I don’t have much homework.
What was your favourite book when you were younger?
Where’s Wally? I was interested in the adventures and trying to find Wally.
What sort of books do you like to read now?
Adventure books, scary books and books that I can relate to and give you something to think about.
Do you have any pets?
Yes, a miniature Fox Terrier crossed with a Jack Russell, named ‘Monty’.
Where did you get the idea for Lilli and Her Shadow?
It was based on my own experience when I moved with my family from Darwin to Perth, the feelings I had to deal with leaving family especially my nana and the difficulty changing schools and making new friends.
What do you like to do when you are not writing?
Just being a normal teenage girl, shopping and hanging out with friends.
Do you prefer to write on paper, or on a computer?
A bit of both, but mainly computer because I can’t lose it.
Lilli and Her Shadow is a chapter book for early readers. How important do you think it is for children to have access to books with Indigenous characters in them?
I think that it is very important. Children growing up from all nationalities need to feel they are important enough to be written about. Through inclusion we are all important and this is a step forward to get rid of issues such as racism.
What is positive and what is challenging about co-writing a book?
Co-writing allows you to grow your ideas through brain storming and building of the creativity of each other. I think at the end of the manuscript you have a greater story.
Are you working on another book?
I have been co writing with my Aunty Pat another book about a young girl’s secret struggle which is expected to be released later this year. Besides this I am always writing short stories especially when I am in a creative mood to challenge my imagination and when I have an important topic to talk about. One day I hope to be able to use these materials in other stories.
Do you have any advice for young writers?
Keep a diary, this is where you can write down everyday events that affect you emotionally. At this real time you can feel and express on paper with greater accuracy and therefore relate to real events and real readers about an issue or something that you feel passionate about. Later on you can use this material in your stories.
Also have a book that you write down brilliant ideas as soon as they come into your head as they can be quickly lost, then you can also use this book to stimulate your creativity when writing.
Thank-you for giving me the opportunity to share my story and give other kids ideas for writing.
Thanks for answering our questions. We loved having you here!
Lilli and Her Shadow, by Pat Dudgeon and Laura Dudgeon, ill. by Tracey Gibbs and Sally Morgan, published by Fremantle Press.