Aleesah Darlison grew up in the Manning Valley and is the author of two published books. She shares how her life has changed since she decided to pursue her dream to become a writer.
You grew up in the Manning Valley, tell us about your background?
I grew up in Tinonee where I had loads of freedom. As a kid, I spent most of my time riding my bike, building cubbyhouses or billycarts, exploring and generally getting into mischief.
You then moved to Sydney to pursue a marketing career but you had another dream to fulfill?
Despite studying marketing at university then working in the industry for 10 years, my heart always belonged to writing. When I stopped work to have children, I decided to make my writing dream a reality. Rather naively, I thought being an author was something you could do from home while you minded the kids. Little did I know how much more there is to it, but I’m learning fast!
What age group do you write for?
Generally, I write picture books for 3-6 year olds and junior fiction for children aged 7 plus. I write for kids because it’s fun and because I like making kids laugh. Through my stories, I hope to reach them, entertain them, make a difference to them.
How do you connect with your young audience? Do you spend time at playgrounds for inspiration or watch cartoons?
Connecting with kids is all about speaking their language. It’s about being a little bit silly, and funny and carefree and seeing the world differently. It’s about tearing down those constraints that adults build around themselves.
As a mum, I spend lots of time connecting with kids and I hope that spills over into my writing. And yes, sometimes it does involve hanging around playgrounds, playgroups, schools and watching Finding Nemo 400 times!
They’re calling 2010 your breakthrough year with the release of your new book ‘The Fabulous Diary of Persephone Pinchgut’ in September. What inspired this tale?
The Fabulous Diary of Persephone Pinchgut is a quirky new series about identical twins, Persephone and Portia Pinchgut, and is due for release in September.
As a child, I longed for an identical twin so I thought what could be better than inventing one and living vicariously through my main character?
The first book in the series is titled ‘Totally Twins’. When shy Persephone’s teacher announces their class will be performing a musical, she panics. Her outgoing twin, Portia, however, is ecstatic. That, of course, is where all the fun and drama starts.
Do you believe your own childhood and growing up in the Manning Valley has shaped your writing style or inspirations?
Definitely. You’ll find loads of animals in my stories and that love for, and understanding of animals comes from a childhood spent in the country. My books also feature lot of gutsy country kids and beautiful country settings.
You’re also a book reviewer for the Sun Herald. How did you land that gig?
I’d been reviewing books for some time for the online magazine, Buzz Words. When the Sun Herald was looking for a children’s book reviewer, a friend of mine who is also an author, recommended me.
For someone who loves books like I do, being a reviewer is the best job ever. Not only do I get to read all the latest titles, I get paid to do it.
What’s next for you?
I have two picture books, a chapter book for the education market, and further instalments in the Persephone series being released in 2011. And hopefully, that’s not all …
Thank you Aleesah.
Visit her website at www.aleesahdarlison.com or contact the venues.