Winner of the Text Prize for Young Adult and Children's Writing, as well as a stack of other awards, AJ Betts is an inspiring, honest and down-to-earth author who tells it like it is.
AJ will be running high school workshops for heARTlines this year.
Below, AJ answers our Four Fab Festival questions...
1. What book/s will you be speaking about at this year’s HeArtlines Festival?
Zac & Mia
2. Where did inspiration for that book come from?
The inspiration came from my experience working with teenagers on a cancer ward in Perth.
I’ve been teaching at Princess Margaret Hospital for ten years, and in this time I’ve come to know hundreds of ‘ordinary’ teenagers who reveal how extraordinary they can be.
I wanted to write a book that showed how brave and wise and funny these young people are, and how they can teach us so much, particularly about the things that matter.
Zac & Mia isn’t a book about cancer, but about friendship and love and making the most of the lives we have.
3. What’s your advice to aspiring writers or illustrators of children’s books?
Do what you love - don’t be swayed by ‘trends’ or other people’s suggestions to write to a particular topic or style. They mean well, but it’s important to develop your own style - it will take decades! - and only write about things that make you wonder.
Listen generously to advice, but never swallow it whole. Every writer has their own discoveries to make.
4. What did you have for breakfast this morning?
A banana and berry muffin! Home-made, of course. I am the muffin-guru (if in doubt, read my second novel, Wavelength).
You can read more about AJ and buy her books when you come to this year's heARTlines festival in Mundaring, where we'll be exhibiting awesome artwork from Western Australia's most fabulous children's illustrators, and featuring workshops from WA's best children's authors and illustrators, from 15 May till 28 June 2015.
The exhibition is FREE and there's also a fab public program.