Tag Archives: queensland

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!

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

 

 

Librarians Rock Book Week

A great big round of applause for all of the school librarians who made Book Week special. Love your work. It is such a pleasure to visit a school and see kids so excited about reading!

Here are a few highlights from my school visits. Thank you to the librarians, staff and students who made me feel so welcome!

 

Hope to see you all again soon!

 

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!

 

Getting creative on the Scenic Rim

I’ve read the research: hanging out in nature reduces stress levels, enhances creativity,  improves intelligence and even makes you a nicer person. So after three days of stomping through muddy gullies, tramping up mountain tracks and following black cockatoos on Queensland’s spectacular Scenic Rim, my latest story should basically write itself.

As for the impact of all of that delicious food I consumed while enjoying nature – I’m still looking for appropriate research to support my theory, but I’d say: it’s got to be a bonus.

I’ll let you know!

Walking, eating and snapping the view at Spicers Peak Lodge, Scenic Rim.

 

Leeches and laughs: walking at O’Reilly’s

“If you find a fallen tree on the path, don’t try to climb over it,” the guide at O’Reilly’s on the Queensland/NSW border tells us earnestly. “I’ve seen those things shoot down the hill. You don’t want to be on one, when that happens.”
IMG_8333No. I definitely don’t want to fly down a gully clinging to the mossy bark of an Arctic Beech and have to wait to be rescued at the bottom with a broken ankle (and that’s a best case scenario).

I won’t be climbing over any fallen trees. In fact I’m wondering if I should leave the comfort of the lodge at all. Perhaps a day in the library with a cup of tea might be a good option. The spa also looks inviting.

Box Circuit, Lamington National ParkI’m on a walking weekend with my book group, but a wave of thunderstorms have hit the Lamington National Park leaving countless hazards in its wake. We’ve had to cancel our planned 23 km walk along the Main Border Track and we’re looking at alternatives. The resort guide is keen to make sure we understand the risks before we set off anywhere. She advises us to take warm clothes and food in case we get stuck in the bush. OK. Now I’m getting nervous.

Tree Top walk O'Reilly's, Lamington National ParkWe download an emergency app, sort out a packed lunch and plenty of water and bravely head off for the Box Circuit – a track on the more protected side of the mountain that should be a reasonably safe option.

The route isn’t really important. For me, walking is all about the journey. The chance to enjoy the rainforest, catch up with friends, find out what’s really going on behind the happy-family snapshots on Facebook. Maybe even talk about books.

It’s a foggy morning and light drizzle is falling, but once we’re on the track, the towering Booyongs protect us from the rain. Light filters through the fog, hanging among the fern trees as we wind our way down to Canungra Creek. It’s damp and there must be a thousand leeches per square metre, but the rainforest couldn’t be more beautiful. It feels so pre-historic that I wouldn’t be surprised if a dinosaur strolled out of the mist. A hobbit wouldn’t be out of place either. But I get a nasty shock when a snake decides to join us on the track.

Box Circuit, Lamington National Park“Watch out for the red-belly black,” one of my fellow walkers calls calmly. “It’s much more scared of you, than you are of it.” That, I doubt.

I’ve only just recovered from the snake encounter when an enormous blue crayfish gives me the shock of my life, snapping its pincers menacingly from the side of the track. You don’t see that every day. Luckily.

We eat lunch standing on a wet boulder at Picnic Rock to minimize our interaction with leeches. It’s not entirely successful, the little buggers don’t just jump off the track, they also launch themselves from the trees. Someone finds a leech in her belly button. Not cool.

We make it back our gorgeous villa without having to resort to the emergency app. I’ve transported a sock full of leeches on our 20km walk and my feet are aching. But I wouldn’t have missed it for anything.

Walking with friends is therapy for the body and the mind, no matter where the track leads.

Sugar is sweet

Heart-shaped reef, Queensland
Heart-shaped reef on the Great Barrier Reef, Queensland

There’s nothing like a break from the daily grind to get the creative juices flowing (or dripping at the very least), and a holiday never lets me down. A week in the Whitsundays was going to be my chance to do lots of reading – always useful before the start of a new project. Unfortunately sailing, snorkelling, paddle boarding, bush walking and eating (lots of eating) got in the way of that.

Catseye Beach, Hamilton Island
Catseye Beach, Hamilton Island

I did have a moment to pick up a book when the rest of the family spent the morning go-karting. Given my history of holiday accidents, I wasn’t going anywhere near crazy underage drivers.

It feels like the end of the world when the cane is set alight to burn off the old leaves, before harvesting.
It feels like the end of the world when the cane is set alight to burn off the old leaves, before harvesting.

But as luck would have it, I discovered a new muse after leaving the islands. Flat, green and oozing with potential – a sugar cane farm in the Burdekin is calling my name, and who am I to ignore it. The farm is taking centre stage in a short story I’m writing for a new Ford Street Publishing anthology due out in February next year. Stay tuned!

Trust Me TooYou can check out Ford Street’s previous anthologies Trust me and Trust Me Too – here.