What drew you to the genre of children’s books?
From the time I was very young I loved to read. Then when I grew up I became a primary school teacher and was particularly drawn to good read alouds – Roald Dahl was the master as far as I was concerned. After a time I started writing stories and poems and plays for my classes too. I guess it was a natural progression for me to want to write for children as I spent so much time with them. I remember telling my colleagues way back in 1994 (while on a school trip walking through a forest in Japan) that one day I was going to be a children’s book author. It just took me a while to work out how to do it!
What are the most important elements to consider when writing for a younger audience?
Respect your readers’ intelligence and don’t talk down to them. It’s also important to create characters that you fall in love with and stories that have great plots. I don’t write books with the intent of sending a message – if you write a great story there will be themes and ideas that shine through naturally.
Where do you get your ideas for children’s stories?
Watching the world go by, talking to people, reading the newspaper, random things that pop into my head, dreams, travelling (when we’re allowed to of course) – I get my ideas from just about anywhere.
Do you read children’s books for inspiration? What are some of your all-time favourite publications?
Not when I’m working on a book of my own – there’s always that worry you might inadvertently use an idea from someone else. That said, I go through bursts where I read a lot of children’s books to see what’s out there, what’s new and also go back and read old favourites. Some of the books I have adored include Playing Beatie Bow, Heidi, Black Beauty and Seven Little Australians.
Jacqueline Harvey is one of Australia’s bestselling authors for children with 48 books published to date. Her Alice-Miranda, Clementine Rose and Kensy and Max series’ have sold over a million copies in Australia 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. Kensy and Max: Breaking News is shortlisted in the 2021 Red Dot Book Awards in Singapore. In 2012, Jacqueline resigned from a 20-year career in education to become a full-time writer and speaker.
If you want to be the first to read great advice from our incredible tutors, subscribe to our weekly e-newsletter Newsbite.
More from Writing NSW
Check out our full range of in-person writing courses in Sydney, our online writing courses and our feedback programs to see how we can help you on your writing journey. Find out about our grants and prizes, as well as writing groups across NSW, and sign up to our weekly newsletter for writing events, opportunities and giveaways.