Jacqueline Harvey is one of Australia’s bestselling authors for children with 29 books published to date. Her Alice-Miranda and Clementine Rose series are sold in over 80 countries and have attracted numerous shortlistings and awards while her first and only picture book, The Sound of the Sea, was an Honour Book in the 2006 Children’s Book Council Awards.
How did your writing career start?
I was a teacher for a long time and wrote a lot for the children in my classes and school in general. I reached a point about ten years into my career where I had to know if my writing was good enough to be published. I entered a competition for unpublished writers with the NSW Children’s Book Council and won, and that got my foot in the door with a publisher.
How has your experience as a teacher at girls’ boarding schools shaped your writing?
Teaching has been a huge influence on what I write. I worked in the junior schools of two different boarding schools. In my first school we sometimes had boarders in the primary classes and I got to see first hand how they dealt with life as a boarder. I loved being a teacher and I was quite adventurous, taking the children on camps and doing lots of experiential learning. I’ve often drawn on my own experiences to spark an idea for a story.
What’s your best tip for aspiring children’s book authors?
You need to be passionate about the stories and the characters. They need to feel real – children can spot a fake a mile away. Write stories that you would have loved when you were a child and fall in love with your characters – you’re going to spend a lot of time with them.
Jacqueline Harvey’s next course at Writing NSW is Online: Writing Children’s Books, starting Monday 26 October 2020. Enrol here>>