Today I have a very special guest on Kid’s Book Capers. Sue Whiting is my wonderful editor at Walker Books – the person who patiently helped me shape Letters to Leonardo from a manuscript into a book.

Sue is also the author of more than sixty books for children and is here to talk about her journey and the release of her latest work, Get A Grip, Cooper Jones.

Sue didn’t start writing until she was in her late thirties, though she says that the desire and passion to write children’s books had been burning deep within her for more than a decade beforehand.

I had never thought of myself as a writer, so it took me quite a while to muster the courage to give it a go. But once I started I couldn’t stop and I spent every spare moment I had writing. It took me a couple of years of writing and submitting before I got my first acceptance for a children’s novelty book. That was a very special day, that’s for sure.

The thing that Sue enjoys most about writing is having the opportunity to share her stories with kids.

School and library visits and literature festivals are exhausting, but they are the best fun.

Before she became a writer, Sue was a primary school teacher and this is where she fell in love with kids’ books and developed her passion for writing. She says that the hardest thing is having the discipline to keep plugging away at your story even when the words aren’t flowing and all your ideas seem to suck.

My greatest writing achievement was writing my first junior novel, Battle of the Rats, as it was the first time that I had written something of that length (and I never thought I would be able to do that!) and also because a number of people have told me that this book was the first book that their son/daughter ever completed. And truly, there’s very little that can beat that.

Sue has lived close to the sea for most of her life, so it is no surprise that the sea, the beach and beach culture feature in many of her books.

It is very much part of who I am. But I have noticed lately that fire is another element that often makes an appearance in my stories. And I’m not sure why… In Get a Grip, Cooper Jones the sea and fire (in this case, bushfire) are both major players in the story.

Sue is currently working on a picture book about two mice that fall in love; a new Strange Little Monster story; and a YA thriller for teenage girls.

Sue’s Tips for New Writers

  1. Read widely.
  2. Write often.
  3. Write from the heart.
  4. Never give up.

On Friday, I’ll be reviewing Get A Grip, Cooper Jones and Sue will be back to talk about the writing journey that took this compelling book from initial idea to publication.

Hope you can join us then.

Published by

Dee White

Dee White lives with her husband and two sons in a small rural country town which has more kangaroos than people. She has worked as an advertising copywriter and journalist and has had numerous career changes because until recently, writing wasn’t considered to be a proper job. Letters to Leonardo, her first novel with Walker Books Australia, was published in 2009 to great critical acclaim.