In 2006, Leanne Davidson’s book Quizzical was awarded the Australian Best Self-Published Book Award for Fiction. As a result, the book was picked up by commercial publishers, The Five Mile Press, who re-released it in 2008, followed by the sequel, Money Bags, in 2009.
Leanne says she loved writing back in Primary School, but didn’t start writing in earnest till 2001. There are many things she enjoys about being a writer.
I love how I can have something in mind for a story then, by the end of it, it has totally changed from my first conceptions of it. I also love the opportunities that being a writer provides: visiting schools, and being able to meet the children who read my books.
The hardest thing for me is keeping to deadlines, and not being able to write full-time. I am still a relatively new author so writing for me is very much part-time, squashed in between everything else in my life, which includes working in the office of our family business, and running around after my three boys!
Leanne has had six books published, three in the ‘Quizzical’ series, two in the ‘Alby and the Cat’ series, as well as a Christmas book, ‘A Classic Christmas Treasury: Carols and Stories’, which was published by The Five Mile Press in 2009.
LEANNE’S TIPS FOR NEW WRITERS
I would say just keep on writing, about anything and everything, and if someone gives you advice, take it on board. Don’t be upset if someone reads your work and suggests changes – treat it as a challenge – because it will make your work so much better. Also, join a local writing group, or become members of organisations such as the Fellowship of Australian Writers, the Victorian Writers’ Centre, the NSW Writers’ Centre, and the Society of Book Writers and Illustrators. They are a wealth of information for any writer.
Whenever she raced, we’d do the family thing and go and watch her. I noticed that around the time our horse was racing, another horse named ROYGBIV often raced at the same tracks. I thought ‘what a strange name for a racehorse’ and later learned that it was named after the colours of the rainbow. That got me thinking about ways abbreviated words could help children to remember things in their everyday lives, which sowed the seed in my head for ‘Quizzical’. The sequel, Money Bags, and the third instalment, Puzzle Palace, are the continuing adventures of the characters from Quizzical.
Puzzle Palace is about five children who get to be the first to see inside the new theme park, Puzzle Palace, after winning a competition that was a thread in the story of Money Bags. To pass through each room successfully, a puzzle has to be solved. There is also a secondary thread where things are going missing around the neighbourhood and it is up to the main character, Brain and his best friend, Ted, to solve the mystery.
The main character of the books in the ‘Quizzical’ series, is twelve-year-old Brain Davis, whose name was supposed to be Brian, but his dad misspelt it at birth. He is a very smart kid, with the ability to retain information he learns from reading, at school, etc. He is often misunderstood and thought of as a know-it-all, when really all he wants to do is to enlighten people with his knowledge.
In Puzzle Palace, I have introduced a new, female character who is every bit as smart as Brain. I don’t like that even though Brain knows he’s smart, he can’t help but remind everyone. But, as annoying as Brain can be sometimes, I like that he can realize when he’s wrong and admit it. That’s a hard thing to do.
The Quizzical series was written for 10-14 year olds.
ALBY AND THE CAT: SHOW BUSINESS
Alby and the Cat: Showbusiness is the second of Leanne’s stories about Alby the guide dog, and the mischievious cat that lives next door. In the first story, after a tumultuous beginning to their relationship, Pussums the cat saves Alby from a perilous situation and the two become friends of sorts. In the new book, Pussums goes missing, and it is up to Alby to save the day!
The main character in both books is Alby the guide dog, whose sole priority is to be the sighted guide of his blind master, Jim. Alby is very likeable because he has the best traits you could ever want in a dog due to his guide dog training. The only time you might see anything negative from him is if Pussums the cat is giving him a hard time!
As with every book I write, I enjoy watching the story play out as I write it, with all the ideas in my head coming together when I put them onto paper. I especially enjoyed writing about Alby, though, because it brought back beautiful memories of Duke, the wonderful guide dog that inspired this story.
Leanne says that the hardest thing about writing this book was reflecting back to the time of her father’s accident, and he difficulties he faced in the months and first few years afterwards.
It wasn’t until Duke came into his life that he regained some normality in his life, and some of the independence he’d had before the accident.
Alby and the Cat: Showbusiness is a shorter chapter book for younger readers aged 7+.