Tag Archives: Noosa

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!

Happy New Year!

Skateboarders at Venice Beach
Skateboarders at Venice Beach

I hope you’ve had a great start to the year. I’ve been flat out working all summer. My friends and family would probably say otherwise, that I’ve been lazing around on holidays, that I’ve barely had my laptop open. But that’s just the point.

Viceroy Hotel library, Santa Monica
The hippest library in Santa Monica – at the Viceroy Hotel
Paradise, New Zealand
The road to Paradise, on New Zealand’s South Island

I’ve been travelling, gazing out of plane windows, eavesdropping at restaurants, chatting with strangers, reading books, watching movies, gathering characters, uncovering settings, and generally getting inspired.

Yes, I know – research is tough, but someone has to do it.

And now comes the time when I have to do something with all of those snippets of life – pictures, notes, plane tickets, maps, memories. I can’t wait to get started.

Good luck with your projects for 2015.

Julie

Author alert: Blog tours can be dangerous

Call me accident-prone if you like (you wouldn’t be alone), but I may be the first author to sprain an ankle on a virtual book tour. As you know, over the past month, I’ve been visiting writing buddies across the country talking about my first book in the Choose Your Own Ever After series – How to Get To Rio (HGE, 2014). As it’s been a virtual tour, I’ve been able to do all of my interviews and guest posts, without having to get on a plane or disrupt my family schedule. But that’s where things got dangerous.

Noosa North Shore
The Noosa North Shore was the inspiration for the Hazard River series.

Mid blog tour, I was enjoying a family holiday in Noosa when trouble struck. While most people know the glossy side of Noosa, many don’t know its wild side. On the north shore of the Noosa River is a largely unspoilt wilderness of tea tree swamps, riptides, snakes, stingrays and sharks. You don’t have to try too hard to get into strife there. The  bush tracks and sandbanks were the setting for my first kids’ adventure series – Hazard River (Ford Street, 2010) 

Conditions were perfect this Easter. The weather was glorious, and I hadn’t seen a snake, a shark or even a cane toad. I’d been able to attend to my virtual blog tour responsibilities efficiently (a post here, a share there, everywhere a tweet, retweet) and still had plenty of time to get to the beach and go for lots of lovely early-morning bike rides. Glory days! My mistake however was to get involved in a friendly game of North Shore beach soccer.

It was boys against the rest, as usual, and we were not going too well. The parents were down five-nil, when I was passed the ball. I dribbled it towards the goal, feeling confident. But before I had a chance to launch my strike, I was taken out by a slide tackle. I can’t name names, but mothers of boys will understand who was responsible. I went down in agony and the game was abandoned.

Now I’m sitting at my desk with an icepack on my badly sprained and discoloured ankle, even though it’s the weather for Ugg boots. I should be walking the Great Ocean Road with my book club pals, instead, I’m over-sharing on social media. I’m wondering how things would have turned out if I’d packed my bags and gone on an actual book tour to launch the Choose Your Own After series.

How to get to Rio front coverThis is just the sort of thing I explored in How to Get To Rio – a pick-a-path story for girls 10-14, where every choice has its consequences. By complete coincidence the main character feigns a sprained ankle to get out of a camping trip. I can’t tell you what happens from there, but Kitty gets a nasty surprise too, on one of the pathways. But if the reader doesn’t like the outcome, she can always go back and pick a different path.

Of course, that doesn’t work in real life. What’s done is done. All I can do is hope everyone learns from their mistakes. I have. My beach soccer  striker days are definitely over (some might say they never really began). I’ll stick to the sidelines from now on or suggest a safer game. Just what that might be I’m not sure. I know a mother who broke her arm playing beach cricket with her kids, and I heard of another mum who banned her son from all competitive sport because she feared an accident. He fainted during a choir rehearsal and broke his wrist.

As for virtual blog tours, I’m prepared to take my chances again next time.  They aren’t always dangerous. The biggest risks are probably tripping over the dog on the way to make toast or having a panic attack when the tea bags run out. Having said that, life is full of surprises!

Thank you to my talented and generous author friends who hosted me on my on this tour. You are legends.

Thanks also to Amazing Australia for including me on their website. Not an intended stop on my book tour, and not a list I wanted to be on, either (see the garfish section). This one’s for extreme animal attacks – another  wrong place, wrong time holiday story.

Here’s a wrap up of my tour, just in case you missed any of my stops.

Sherryl Caulfield – Interview

Australian children’s and young adult author, Julie Fison, has a new book out this month called How To Get To Rio. It’s part of a cool new Choose Your Own Ever After series that lets the reader decide how the story goes. I have loved this concept ever since I read The French Lieutenant’s Woman which had three possible endings … (read more)

Kids’ Book Review – The unintended consequences of writing

Authors can find themselves in the strangest situations. Admittedly, they are mostly in our heads as we duck and weave our way through fictitious plot twists. And with the amount of information on the internet, we scarcely even need to leave our desk for research purposes. A walk to the kitchen to put the kettle on is a big excursion some days … (read more)

Dee White’s Writing Classes for Kids: Writing a pick-a-path story

Sometimes it’s hard to come up with one good ending so I’m totally in awe of people like Julie who are able to write a book with multiple endings and the reader gets to choose their own path… (read more)

Cereal Readers – Interview/review

Cereal Readers is pleased to welcome a new Australian series out this month, called Choose Your Own Ever After. The series has been written for girls aged 10-14 years with a focus on realistic situations relating to friendships, family, school and budding romance. As in every day life, dilemmas arise for the main characters – situations in which they must make decisions and determine their own path. Each of the books is structured so that the reader becomes integrally involved in the direction of the story, making choices for the main character at critical points along the way and there by affecting the outcome of events … (read more)

Dimity Powell’s Boomerang Books Blog – Interview/review

The choices kids are offered in life are often not worth writing about, at least not in their books. ‘Eat your brussel sprouts or go to bed hungry.’ Hardly welcome decision making. Yet understanding action and consequence is vital for building character, strengthening confidence and learning that ‘choice, not chance, determines ones future. Opportunities might come our way by chance, but it’s what we choose to do with them that is important,’ so believes author, Julie Fison … (read more)

Buzz Words – Interview/review

A different spin on the idea of choosing your own adventure, is a series aimed at 10 to 14 year old girls, where the reader gets to make decisions about her ‘ever after’. Based around the character’s relationships with girl friends, cute boys and family, this story plays out various scenarios based on choices the reader makes as she goes along … (read more)

City North News – feature

City North News feture

Extra dates announced!

May: Bug in a Book – Review

Kitty McLean faces the dilemma of choosing between her old best friends, Mia and Izzy, or her new, cool friend Persephone – all in the pursuit of Rio, the cute boy that catches her school bus each day, whom she has a crush on. Kitty has to decide whether she will spend her holiday camping without power with Mia and Izzy, or spend a week at a resort with Persephone and meeting up with Rio at the beach. (Read more)

June: The Book Chook – Writing tips

BUY How To Get To Rio

‘Tween girls will simply love this choose your own adventure style new series. Dealing with real world issues, How to Get to Rio gives the reader a delicious amount of power over the story they read – what will your Ever After be?’ The Little Bookroom

‘This is a perfect girls novel, where the reader gets to make Kitty’s decisions. Full of friends, family, school and first love, this book is fun, sensitive and has great characters that the girls will recognise and relate to (especially the annoying little brothers!). Best of all, you can read this book lots of times with lots of different stories. Perfect for Year 7 & 8 girls.’ Lamont

The details:

Pub Date: April 2014

Imprint: HGE

Choose Your Own Ever After: How to Get to Rio

ISBN: 9781742977744

Author: Julie Fison

A$14.95/ NZ$14.99

256 pages

198 x 128mm

10+

Choose Your Own Ever After

Great news for girls who like to call the shots!

You decide how the story goes in the Choose Your Own Ever After series.
You decide how the story goes in the Choose Your Own Ever After series.

My new book – How To Get To Rio is out now. This story and The Call of the Wild are part of the  Choose Your Own Ever After series, where the reader gets to decide how the story goes.

How To Get To Rio

Schoolgirl Kitty McLean has to choose between going camping with her best friends or going to an exclusive beach resort with popular-girl Persephone. She wants to spend the holidays with her besties but she also wants to get to know Persephone better. The beach holiday has an added attraction – a cute guy called Rio, is going to be there!

Stepping stones on Carnarvon Creek
Stepping stones on Carnarvon Creek

The inspiration: The story was inspired by a family trip to Carnarvon Gorge in central Queensland. We went with two other families, so that meant a pile of kids, endless games of capture the flag, lots of slime fights,  and loads and loads of fun. You can read all about it here. CYOEAJulie FisonThe virtual book tour: To celebrate the release of How To Get To Rio I’m heading off on a virtual tour.  I am starting with my old uni friend, and talented new author, Sherryl Caulfield. I’m visiting other great children’s authors and writing blogs during April for reviews, interviews and more. I hope you can join me.

1/4: Sherryl Caulfield – Interview

9/4: Kids’ Book Review – Guest post

15/4: Dee White Writing Classes for Kids – Tips on writing a pick-a-path story

23/4: Cereal Readers – Interview

28/4: Boomerang Books Blog – Interview

Bug in a Book – Review

Buzz Words – Review

13/6: The Book Chook – Writing tips

BUY How To Get To Rio

BUY IT (USA)

Also, check out The Call of the Wild. Another great Choose Your Own After story where you get to make the decisions! OUT NOW
Also, check out The Call of the Wild. Another great Choose Your Own After story where you get to make the decisions! OUT NOW

‘Tween girls will simply love this choose your own adventure style new series. Dealing with real world issues, How to Get to Rio gives the reader a delicious amount of power over the story they read – what will your Ever After be?’ The Little Bookroom

‘This is a perfect girls novel, where the reader gets to make Kitty’s decisions. Full of friends, family, school and first love, this book is fun, sensitive and has great characters that the girls will recognise and relate to (especially the annoying little brothers!). Best of all, you can read this book lots of times with lots of different stories. Perfect for Year 7 & 8 girls.’ Lamont

The details: See where to buy HOW TO GET TO RIO Pub Date: April 2014 Imprint: HGE Choose Your Own Ever After: How to Get to Rio ISBN: 9781742977744 Author: Julie Fison A$14.95/ NZ$14.99 256 pages 198 x 128mm 10+

CHECK OUT The Call of the Wild – another great story in the Choose Your Own Ever After series. This time nature loving Phoebe has to choose between a super-cool party with her besties and a Save-the-Orangutan movie night.