Tag Archives: Choose your own ever after

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 …


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.


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.


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.


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!


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.


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!


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.


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.


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).


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!


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

How to get to Rick

Ta da!

Copies of Como ficar com Rick – the Brazilian version of How to get to Rio have just arrived and don’t they look delicious. The book is part of the Choose Your Own Ever After series which lets you decide how the story goes.


Como ficar com Rick by Julie FisonComo ficar com RickIn Como ficar com Rick  Kitty Maclean has to choose between going camping with her two best friends or visiting a chic beach resort with popular-girl Persephone. And who knows, she might bump into the very cute,  Rick, at Paradise Point.

What would you choose?

Buy Como ficar com Rick at all good Brazilian bookstores. Suitable for readers aged 10+.


This calls for a book tour to Rio!









More Books From Our Backyard

IMG_6666Congratulations to all of the Queensland authors who had books in the latest Books From Our Backyard catalogue. The guide, put together by the Queensland Writers Centre, is a reminder that our sunny state is not just about fab weather and beautiful beaches, we’ve also got some amazing authors. The catalogue lists the books published in Queensland in 2014 and includes a whopping 280 titles from every type of genre. Apparently that’s a record and a fitting way to mark the QWC’s 25th birthday.

The QWC Books From Our Backyard 2014 is jam-packed with great reads by Queensland authors.
QWC’s Books From Our Backyard 2014 is jam-packed with great reads by Queensland authors.

In launching the catalogue, illustrator extraordinaire, Narelle Oliver, noted that while Queensland writers and illustrators might be a long way from Australia’s publishing centres of Melbourne and Sydney, we have a unique voice to share with the world. And that’s definitely something to celebrate!

How to get to Rio sitting pretty beside Sally Piper's 'Grace's Table' and Matthew Condon's 'Jacks and Jokers'.
‘How to get to Rio’ sitting pretty beside Sally Piper’s ‘Grace’s Table’ and Matthew Condon’s ‘Jacks and Jokers’.

I had a busy year last year and had three books in the catalogue – Counterfeit Love, the tale of a young television reporter trying to make a name for herself in Hong Kong, How to get to Rio and The Call of the Wild – both part of the Choose Your Own Ever After series that lets the reader decide how the story goes. It was great to see some familiar faces at the launch and I was very excited to see my books sitting alongside some impressive Queensland authors, including Matthew Condon, Sally Piper, Kylie Kaden and my old uni buddy, Sherryl Caulfield.

Thumbing through the catalogue provides a glimpse of the diversity of stories that come from across the state – from Cape York to Darling Downs, Coolangatta to the Gulf Country, Kevin Gillespie, QWC Chair.

Go Queensland!

Choose Your Own Ever After wins design award

A big congratulations to the super-talented people at Studio Spartels and Hardie Grant Egmont publishers. The Choose Your Own Ever After series has just won the ABDA‘s award for Best Designed Children’s/Young Adult Series!Choose Your Own Ever After - The Call of the Wild

I’m excited to see that the judges love the front covers of How to get to Rio, The Call of the Wild (my two books in the series), A Hot, Cold Summer (by Nova Weetman), Break Up or Make Up (by Nova Weetman) and Play the Game (by Kate Welshman), as much as I do. Tall, Dark and Distant by Julie Fison

Steph at Studio Spartels is an expert in creating covers for books that girls can’t keep their hands off. And her designs are just as much fun as the stories inside.

Studio Spartels was also responsible for the delicious covers for Smitten, another fab HGE series that I worked on. Love your work!

Friends for always?

Olá amigas!

Amigas para sempreMy first book in the Choose Your Own Ever After series – How to Get to Rio is now out in Portuguese! The front cover is looking just as cute as ever, but there’s a new title – Amigas Para Sempre? which means Friends for Always?

BUY it here and check out the funky little book trailer.

Durante meses, Kitty MacLean escondeu a sua paixão por Rio Sanchez, que é, provavelmente, o rapaz mais giro do mundo. Tudo parece indicar que nunca conseguirá ficar com ele.
Até que… A Kitty vai acampar com as suas melhores amigas e descobre que o Rio está a passar férias ali bem perto. Será que um acampamento sem água corrente é o local ideal para encontrar a sua megapaixão?

Em alternativa: Até que… Em vez de ir acampar com as amigas, a Kitty vai de férias para a praia com a popular Persephone. Ela tem a certeza de encontrar o Rio. Mas terá a Kitty agido corretamente? E será que o Rio vai gostar dela apesar do que fez?
Tu é que decides! Segue o teu coração até ao final perfeito, ou volta atrás e começa tudo de novo.

CLICK HERE to read the first chapter.

Tem um bom dia!

Strengthening your voice

This week I’ve been working with school children on developing their writing voice. I know plenty of adults who would have a hard time defining this concept, so it might seem like a mature topic for kids. But the reality is – students are marked on their voice in NAPLAN tests, so, it’s an aspect of writing that has to be considered.

So, what is VOICE?

The Call of the Wild I would define a writing voice as a writer’s style. Just as singers all have a different style, writers also have different ways of telling their stories. A strong voice makes a story interesting and should touch the reader.

As I’ve mentioned on my blog before, the key to writing with an authentic and unique voice is writing from the heart, but that might not make a lot of sense if you’re eight years old.

So, here are some tips to help you tell a good story and strengthen your writing voice.


Set your story in a place you know well

A classroom or a bedroom might sound like a dull place for a story, but a lot of exciting things can happen there. You can only give your reader a clear idea of the setting for your story if you have a good picture of it in your own mind. If you’ve spent every day there, you’ll know it really well! Places you have visited on holidays might also work well as a setting for your story. Keep a map and some pictures as a reminder of how everything looks. If you are writing about a completely fictitious place, you will need to work out in your mind how it looks, sounds and smells. Find some pictures that resemble your made-up world and draw a map. The more details you have before you start, the better.

Write about things that you care about

BAT ATTACK by JE FisonWriting a story that touches your reader will be easier if you write about something that moves you. If you care, you can convince your reader to care, too. Endangered wildlife feature in a lot of my stories because that’s an issue I care about. In the Hazard River series, a gang of kids comes up against rogue developers, dodgy fishermen and smugglers while holidaying on Hazard River. It’s action packed adventure, but each story also has an environmental twist. My most recent story for girls – The Call of the Wild (part of the Choose Your Own Ever After series) also features endangered animals – orangutans. The main character – a nature-loving school girl, has to decide whether to go to a save-the-orangutan fundraiser or go to a party with her besties, in this pick-a-path story.

Get inside you characters’ heads

Work out what type of person your main character is – his or her strengths and weaknesses. You could even interview them to get a complete picture. Think about how your characters will react in different situations. Don’t tell your reader that your character is mean, or greedy. Show them. Demonstrate your character’s personality through how they behave, what they say and what they think.

Write with all of your senses

Don’t forget to include smells and sounds in your story. These help to create a picture in the reader’s mind. Also include how your characters are feeling. Once again, don’t just tell the reader that your character is scared, show them – with a droplet of sweat running down his forehead, or a shiver running down her spine.

Good luck!

BOOK Julie FISON for a school visit.