My bookshelves have literally thousands of books across lots of different genres so it’s hard to choose! But I think my favourite genres are adventure, history and a twist of magic – so much like the books I love to write myself. Some of the children’s books I enjoy are the Chrestomanci series by Diana Wynne-Jones, Ranger’s Apprentice series by John Flanagan, Cornelia Funke’s The Thief Lord, Eva Ibbotson’s The Star of Kazan, and books by my sister Kate Forsyth such as The Puzzle Ring and the Chain of Charms series. Of my own books, I particularly love the time slip adventures such as The Ivory Rose and The Locket of Dreams.
With these books, I was intrigued by the idea of taking a modern day girl and whisking her back to the past, where life was so different, and seeing how that modern child would cope and react. These heroines have all sorts of thrilling adventures and find strength they never knew they had.
2. Which books did you love to read as a young child?
Almost anything and everything!! As a young child, I must confess I was an avid Enid Blyton fan. Her books had humour, adventure, excitement, magic, friendship and a delightful absence of interfering adults, which I still believe are all wonderful ingredients for an enthralling children’s book
I adored the Narnia series by C.S. Lewis especially The Lion, The Witch and the Wardrobe and The Horse and His Boy. With these books, I loved their enticing mixture of adventure, action and fantasy. My sister and I would dress up in silver chain mail, with swords and bows and arrows, and play Narnia. I was enraptured by the idea that it might be possible to pass through a secret door into a magical world, full of talking animals and adventure.
When I was a bit older I loved lots of the classics such as Little Women by Louisa May Alcott, Seven Little Australians by Ethel Turner and My Brilliiant Career by Miles Franklin, as well as The Lord of the Rings series by J.R.R. Tolkein.
3. Which three attributes make for a great children’s book?
Lovable characters, who aren’t perfect, that you truly care about. Exciting and adventurous action, which keeps you reading late into the night. A vivid and exotic setting which seems so real you think you are actually there. Most of the books I’ve mentioned above would cover these key attributes but one of the best examples would of course be the Harry Potter series.
4. What is your number one tip for encouraging children to read?
Make reading a huge part of your family life. Share books with your kids and talk about them. Create inviting reading nooks such as a comfy arm chair by the fire, with a pile of books beside it. Take turns reading out loud in the car or in the kitchen while cooking. Let your kids see you reading. Buy books as presents and rewards. Turn off the TV and make time in your routine for children to read for enjoyment every day. Make sure it’s fun!!
5. Name three books you wish you’d written.
Pride and Prejudice by Jane Austen
The Guernsey Literary and Potato Peel Pie Society by Mary Ann Shaffer
Possession by AS Byatt
At about the age of eight, Belinda Murrell began writing stirring tales of adventure, mystery and magic in hand illustrated exercise books. Now, Belinda Murrell is a bestselling children’s author currently writing her fourteenth book, which range from four picture books for pre-schoolers, to junior fiction. These include the fantasy-adventure series for boys and girls aged 8 to 12 called The Sun Sword Trilogy (The Quest for the Sun Gem, The Voyage of the Owl and The Snowy Tower). Her time-slip series includes The Locket of Dreams, The Ruby Talisman and The Ivory Rose – a 2012 CBCA Notable Book. Belinda’s new book, The Forgotten Pearl is an exhilarating wartime adventure set in Darwin and Sydney. Belinda’s books have been shortlisted for various awards and selected for the NSW Premier’s Reading Challenge.