Category Archives: Life

What’s your story?

I hope you’ve had a great Easter break. I’ve been in Noosa – paddling, swimming, catching up with friends and doing some writing (I promise).

I’ve had some questions about my books over the holidays, so I thought it was a good chance to wrap up the story so far …

A QUICK SUMMARY

Books by Julie FisonI have written eleven books for children and young adults. My books include the Hazard River series (Shark Frenzy, Tiger Terror, Bat Attack, Snake Surprise, Toads’ Revenge and Blood Money.) for young adventure lovers, How to Get to Rio and The Call of the Wild (part of the Choose Your Own Ever After series) that let readers decide how the story goes. I’ve also written three books for young adults: Tall, Dark and Distant, Lust and Found and Counterfeit Love. The latest is about an ambitious young television reporter trying to make a name for herself in Hong Kong and was inspired by my own time in Asia.

WHERE DID YOU GROW UP?

IMG_7907I was born in Mackay, North Queensland and grew up in Brisbane. I loved swimming and nature. I spent a lot of time exploring my local creeks and poking around the rock pools on Moreton Bay’s many islands. I hoped one day to become a vet, but I realised somewhere along the way that I was too squeamish for that, so I studied Journalism at QUT and became a news reporter instead. I worked in Australia, Hong Kong and London, covering all sorts of stories and exploring the world, gathering ideas that would eventually turn into books.

HOW DID YOU GET STARTED WITH FICTION?

My first book was inspired by a family holiday on the Noosa River in Queensland. My two sons teamed up with friends and spent the summer dodging stingrays, exploring the bush and building secret camps. I had to write about it.

Hazard River series by JE Fison
The Hazard River series – for young adventure lovers.

I had no experience in writing fiction for children, but I had spent a decade working as a television news reporter in Australia, Hong Kong and London. I rather naively thought that this would see me through, but it turned out I had a lot to learn. My children, who were five and eight at the time, set me straight when my writing got too newsy!

By the end of the summer I had written a series of books about a gang of kids holidaying on Hazard River, coming up against rogue fishermen, smugglers and dodgy developers. The stories were full of fun and adventure, with a subtle message about threatened wildlife. My kids loved them. I just hoped that I could find a publisher who felt the same way.

A year or so later I met Ford Street Publishing’s Paul Collins at a book launch. I used the opportunity to subtly sidle up to Paul and pitch my books. (Paul tells a different version – apparently I was rather pushy!) A month later I had a four-book contract. Less than two years later Ford Street Publishing had released six books in the Hazard River series – Shark Frenzy, Tiger Terror, Bat Attack, Snake Surprise, Toads’ Revenge and Blood Money.

TELL US ABOUT YOUR LATEST BOOKS.

The Call of the Wild (Choose Your Own Ever After)My most recent books are for girls. I’ve written two stories for the Choose Your Own Ever After series – How to Get to Rio and The Call of the Wild. The books let the reader decide how the story goes – with girlfriend dramas, boy troubles, family fun and plenty of decisions along the way.

In How to Get to Rio – schoolgirl Kitty McLean has to decide whether to go camping with her old friends or spend the holidays at an exclusive beach resort with her new friend. The big decision for nature-loving Phoebe in The Call of the Wild is whether to go to a party with her besties or help out at the save-the-orangutan fundraiser. The emphasis is on fun, but the stories present realistic dilemmas for girls to consider. For every choice there’s a consequence. But unlike other Counterfeit Lovestories in the choose-your-own-adventure genre, no one dies in this series when they make a bad choice!

My latest book for young adults is Counterfeit Love. Lucy Yang is an ambitious young television news reporter trying to get to the bottom of a murky story. It was inspired by my years as a reporter in Hong Kong, but Lucy gets into more trouble than I ever did!

WHAT INSPIRES YOU?

I get my ideas from everywhere – my own misadventures, things that happen to my children, stories I read in the paper, conversations I overhear. Everything! Places that I’ve visited also feature heavily in my stories. Noosa is the setting for my first YA novel – Tall Dark and Distant. The magical ruined temples of Angkor, in Cambodia, is the backdrop of Lust and Found, while Counterfeit Love takes place in my old stomping ground – Hong Kong.

IMG_4180There’s a little bit of me in all of my stories and a lot of me in some of them! Phoebe from The Call of the Wild is a wildlife lover just like I was when I was a girl. I devoured everything I could find on African wildlife and hoped one day to work on a nature reserve. My life didn’t quite turn out that way, but I did go on a safari in Africa, which was amazing. I was also inspired by a visit to Borneo to see Orangutans. They are truly incredible but sadly they face a bleak future due to the destruction of their habitat.

WHAT IS YOUR WORK ENVIRONMENT LIKE?

IMG_4007I write best when I’m sitting at my desk. I don’t like distractions of any kind – which is very strange after working in a noisy, smoky newsroom. I also like to write when I’m on holidays on the Noosa River, where there is no internet!

WHAT DOES YOUR WRITING DAY LOOK LIKE?

Once I have an idea in my head I write quickly. I settle myself in front of my computer and pound away for as much of the day as I can. I forget to pick up the kids from school, I ignore requests for dinner and Molly, the dog, looks on forlornly waiting for some attention. When I need a break to recharge my ideas I dash around getting things done and take Molly for a walk. I find walking, bike riding and napping extremely useful for getting through any kind of block.

DO YOU PLAN YOUR STORIES?

The Call of the Wild (Choose Your Own Ever After)I always have an idea of where a story will start and finish before I begin writing. The details of the middle section get worked out as I go along. The Choose Your Own Ever After series was an exception. Each story has eight possible endings and various other choices along the way, so there were a lot of threads to tie in. I couldn’t just wing it with those stories, the plots had to be meticulously planned.

WHY DO YOU WRITE?

I write because I enjoy it. Also, it gives me an excuse to read a lot (to improve my writing), to travel (for inspiration) and to nap during the day (because it clears my head).

HAS ANYTHING SURPRISED YOU ABOUT WRITING?

Voices on the Coast 2016: The full line-up for Voices on the Coast 2016:  (Some didn't make the photo but I'll let you work out who was there and who wasn't!) Deborah Abela, Christine Bongers, Janeen Brian, Peter Carnavas, Gary Crew, Shelley Davidow, Gregg Dreise, Kirsty Eagar, Brain Falker, Fleur Ferris, Julie Fison, Serena Geddes, Leigh Hobbs, Dean Jacobs, Andrew King, Sarah Kinsella, Russell Fletcher, Jan Latta, Rebecca Lim, Lynette Noni, James Phelan, Darrell Pitt, Leila Rudge, Katryna Starks, Ellen van Neervan, Nova Weetman, Samantha Wheeler, Philip Wilcox, Lesley Williams, Tammy Williams and Kelly Dunham (Festival Coordinator).I don’t think I was prepared for how much work goes into a book after it is published. Marketing is a vital aspect of writing, and school visits are an essential part of the job if you write for children. Anyone with a flair for stand-up comedy has an advantage in front of a group of school kids!

HOW ABOUT AWARDS?

I’ve been shortlisted for the West Australian Young Readers’ Book Awards. That’s exciting! And I’m on the list of Australia’s Amazing Animal Attacks. (See section on Garfish.) That’s a list I didn’t want to be on!

Good luck with your projects!

WA visit: May 15-19

Hello WA!

I will be winging my way to your side of the country soon – visiting schools in the Perth area from May 15-19, 2017. If you would like me to spend the day at your school – talking about story ideas, characters, the Choose Your Own Ever After series, Hazard River, orang-utans and more, please contact me directly or you can book a visit through Speakers Ink or Creative Net. I run workshops and talks for students in primary and secondary schools.

The Call of the Wild has been shortlisted in the WA Young Readers’ Book Awards. 

IMG_1414“Thank you for such a great day. The girls and teachers thoroughly enjoyed your sessions, it was wonderful to hear them speak so positively about the tips and drafting skills you shared.” St Aidan’s Anglican Girls’ School

Hope to see you in May!

Julie xx

Feb Feast

At the beginning of the year I made a commitment to take a break from the routine as much as possible, and do more. I know it’s only February, and it may be too early to be crowing about my success on the resolutions front, but so far, so good. 

No Feb Fast for me, it’s been a feast for the mind, body and senses – in Thailand and in my own beautiful state of Queensland. (If you haven’t discovered Girraween National Park – you need to. But maybe not on the hottest weekend of the year!)

I have to admit my word count is looking a little sad, but I’m back at my desk now and busily working on two projects for young adults.

Maybe next year my resolution will have to be do more work!

 

 

In other February news, The Call of the Wild (part of the Choose Your Own Ever After series) has been shortlisted for the West Australian Young Readers’ Book Award. I’m very excited to be among some brilliant writers. Congrats to everyone on the list!

2017-older-readers-shortlist

Hope your projects are all on track, too.

Julie xx

 

 

Old haunts

Happy New Year!

Sorry I’m a bit slow off the mark. I’ve been travelling on the cold side of the world – reconnecting with friends, catching up with family, revisiting some familiar places and gathering ideas for my next project. I lived in England for 11 years, but there’s something very special about returning after a long break and visiting the old haunts with fresh eyes.

Nostalgia has a way of colouring the past, but luckily all of my favourite places were even more impressive than I remembered (although the traffic is much worse and air travel is a complete nightmare). And my friends – they haven’t changed a bit!

 

Travel is so rewarding, but it also has a way of altering time. My month away felt more like a year. Cramming every day with   haunted hotels,  crazy drivers, snow-capped peaks, grand architecture, wonder and laughter sure makes life feel fuller and longer.

So, it’s out with the routine and in with life for 2017. There’s just one item on my New Year’s resolutions list:

  1. DO MORE

I hope 2017 brings you everything you’re aiming for. Have a good one.

Julie xx

 

 

 

 

 

 

Cape to Cape

There’s a lot to love about the South West corner of Australia – a rugged coastline, spectacular caves,  beautiful wineries, some great places to eat, and, in Spring, the wildflowers are out too. It’s no wonder this part of the country has inspired so many brilliant stories. You can’t visit Cape Leeuwin lighthouse without feeling the isolation that is so hauntingly evoked in M.L Stedman’s The Light Between Oceans. And it’s hard not to watch a surfer without thinking of Tim Winton’s gritty Breath.

Just hoping some of the WA magic rubs off on my writing!

Great walks: The Coast to Coast track from Cape Naturaliste to Cape Leeuwin is 135 Km of stunning natural beauty. We did short sections rather than the whole lot. The Canal Rocks area was a highlight.

Great eating: The Leeuwin Estate restaurant is amazing and for deliciously casual fare try the Margaret River Bakery.

Great accomodation: I loved the Injidup Spa Retreat for its beautiful hill-top setting and for the delicious supplies packed into the fridge every morning.

 

Julie.

Online Literature Festival

I’m excited to be part of this year’s Queensland Online Literature Festival (22 Aug-9 Sep).  The festival is an amazing opportunity for school kids from all over Queensland to hear from some of Australia’s best authors. Thirty writers are involved this year and you can connect with them whether you’re in Boulia, Biloela or Brisbane (or anywhere in between).

My slot is 10.30am on Tuesday August 30. It’s a very special day because it’s also my son’s 18th birthday!

I’ll be talking about where I got the ideas for my Hazard River adventure series for young readers and the inspiration for my Choose Your Own Ever After stories. I’ll also share how you can get ideas for your stories.

 

Dymocks Brisbane is offering FREE SHIPPING on book orders as part of the Online Literature Festival. Contact them on 07 3007 2800 or briscorp@dymocks.com.au to place your order.

If your school would like to be involved you can register on the Queensland Government site here.  (Only Queensland schools can register).

Other great writers and illustrators on the program include Pamela Rushby (pictured above), Michael Gerard Bauer (pictured at top of page), Samantha Wheeler (pictured at top), Andy Griffiths, Terry Denton,  Tristan Bancks, Jack Heath and Dave Hackett.

Hope to see you on the 30th!

 

Central Queensland Literary Festival

I’m all talked out after a week with a brilliant bunch writers and illustrators at the Central Queensland Literary Festival – sharing stories with clever students and aspiring novelists by day, by night debating lofty ideas like: Can the Broncos beat the Eels? (It turns out they certainly can!)

Rockhampton put on perfect winter weather for the creative invasion, which meant that in between workshops, we absolutely had to visit Great Keppel Island. The trip turned into more of an adventure than an outing when we missed our ferry and had to hail a speed boat, but who’s complaining when the sun is out and there’s a stunning beach at the end of the journey.

The week also included a visit to the beautiful Botanic Gardens, a fantastic steak at the Criterion Hotel and a self-guided tour of Rockhampton’s bull statues.

Love you Rocky!

 

P1120088

Ready for anything (even high-school students): Justin D’Ath, Meredith Costain, Robert Favretto, Julie Fison, Pamela Rushby, Michael Gerard Bauer, Royce Bond.

Photo credit: Marjory Gardner

MIA: Paul Collins and Elaine Ouston

Very much missed: Kevin Burgemeestre

A great big thanks to Elaine Ouston of Morris Publishing and Ford Street Publishing’s Paul Collins for inviting me to be part of this year’s festival and to the staff and students of St Peter’s Catholic Primary, St Paul’s Catholic Primary and Emmaus College for making us welcome. Loved sharing stories with you!

Thanks also to the supremely helpful staff at Freedom Fast Cats and the amazing managers of Apartments on Palmer.

Hope to see you soon!