You’re an internationally published author of over 30 books. Can you walk us through your writing routine?
For me, writing is my full-time job, and so I pitch an idea for a book or a series to my publisher at Penguin Random House well in advance, sign a contract, get paid an advance and have strict deadlines to work to. I have a beautiful office at home, filled with books, where I write. I usually work five or six days a week, especially as I get close to when the book is due, and I become completely obsessed with it.
I usually try to tackle my emails and admin early in the morning, after my family heads off for the day. I walk my dog Rosie along the beach to get some fresh air and exercise, which helps get my brain working well. Back at my desk I make a coffee, read over what I have written the day before, check my notebook or plan to see where I’m going, then start writing. I write most of the day, until my kids get home at about 6pm, then I stop work and focus on the family – cooking dinner, housework and catching up.
As well as writing, I spend a few weeks a year speaking at schools, literary festivals, bookstore signings, teacher conferences, charity fundraisers and literary events, especially when a new book comes out. It is a great chance to meet readers who love my books and share my passion for writing.
What’s the best advice you’ve been given as a children’s and YA author?
It was to learn as much as I could about the publishing industry and how it works, by doing courses, chatting to other writers and publishers, reading articles, listening to podcasts and attending festivals, like the brilliant Writing NSW Kids and YA festival. The other golden tip was to network, be involved and get to know people in the industry, by attending events, launches and festivals.
You mention that your three greatest loves are writing, reading and travelling. Considering we’re pretty limited with travel these days, has that impacted the stories you tell?
Luckily for me, I work a long way ahead! The middle grade novel that I am writing now is The Silver Sea, which is a sequel to The Golden Tower, published by Penguin Random House, which came out a few weeks ago. Both these fantasy/time slip books are set in a magical Italian Renaissance inspired world called Tuscia. I did the travel research for both these books in a wonderful trip to Tuscany and Venice in 2019. Likewise, with writing Searching for Charlotte, which came out late last year, I was so lucky to get our research trip to the UK in before Covid hit. This book is a non-fiction biblio-memoir, published by The National Library of Australia, which I wrote with my sister Kate Forsyth, about the extraordinary life of our great-great-great-great grandmother Charlotte Waring Atkinson, who wrote the first children’s book, published in Australia in 1841. So hopefully those travels will keep me inspired for a little while longer.
Belinda Murrell is the internationally published, best-selling author of more than 30 books for children and teenagers. These include her fantasy adventure series, The Sun Sword trilogy, and her seven historical novels, The Locket of Dreams, The Ruby Talisman, The Ivory Rose, The Forgotten Pearl, The River Charm, The Sequin Star, and The Lost Sapphire. These books have been recognised by various awards, including Honour Book KOALAS, shortlisted seven times for the Young Australians Best Book Award (YABBA), two CBCA Notable listings, and highly commended in the PM’s Literary Awards.
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