LOUISE’S TOP WRITING TIP: It’s hard when you start out. It’s hard to imagine how anyone would want to read what you have to say. But if you live and breathe it, then they will. Be true to your heart. Write from your soul. Write what you do best and don’t try to be everything to everyone or every age group. Oh, and from the publisher in me: always check the guidelines from publishing houses!
Louise Park draws from a strong background in Education and literacy to produce her blockbuster bestsellers that include Zac Power and Boy vs Beast. She has taught primary school children of all ages, trained teachers in literacy education, created and developed successful reading resources to help children crack the reading code, and published books that have ignited such a love of reading in children that she has parents writing to her on a daily basis to thank her. Louise’s books dominated the top ten slots on the children’s charts in 2013 when she held eight of the ten most coveted positions in publishing. She also holds position nine on the prestigious ‘10 best-selling books of all time in Australia’ (adults, children’s, fiction and nonfiction) with total sales over 3 million. Louise writes under her own name as well as the hugely successful pseudonyms: H. I. Larry, Mac Park and Poppy Rose. Find out more about Louise here.
Why do you write? Oh, that incredible, unstoppable urge. That unrelenting need to give some random ideas that jumped into my head when I should have been sleeping, some shape. The desire to help children master literacy skills and the art of reading is a massive driver, also.
What would you be doing if you weren’t a writer? Well, before I was a professional writer I was a children’s publisher. Before that, I was a literacy advisor to teachers. Before that, I was a primary school teacher. And of course, before that, I was that very child I write for now. I still publish books for big publishing houses alongside the writing business. So, if I weren’t writing I’d be making even more books for publishers; and curled up in my favourite spot, reading. Always reading, I am.
What was your toughest obstacle to becoming published? Having worked in publishing and having written so many books on staff while I was there, the leap was quite smooth for me. I have been very blessed. The market gets tougher, though, and more Indie bookstores disappear. Then it gets harder and harder to sell books. Therefore, fewer books will be commissioned. That makes things tricky!
What’s the best aspect of your writing life? Being able to work whenever and wherever I want. As long as I make the deadline it doesn’t matter. I love the Internet and being able to work from anywhere these days!
—the worst? Knowing that I have to start that next manuscript and then I do everything else but making that exact start. Oh, I am SO good at that! Then, the pressure of deadline hits and I still haven’t made that start! I find the first paragraph of anything the worst. If I get it right, then, the rest just seems to flow. If not, I’m up the creek without a paddle! Oh, and people thinking that I don’t have a real job with real pressures and stresses. I’m just at home puddling around, aren’t I? BLEH!
What would you do differently if you were starting out now as a writer? That’s a tough one! I have evolved along the way. Some people say they need that special space yet I still don’t have that for various reasons. Some people say they need their routines yet mine are thrown out constantly with print deadlines for book files for publishing houses. I’ve just rolled along with it all while I raised my gorgeous children as a single mum. I fit into all sorts of spaces and timeframes. I’m used to that. I don’t know how I’d go back and change it. It’s who I am now. I love my ‘warts and all’ history and I don’t really know that I would change any of it.
What do you wish you’d been told before you set out to become an author? DO NOT LET the project you are most passionate about be left behind. If it is what you are most passionate about then it is your calling. Clearly! So, just do it! Find the time, make it happen, and you will be amazed! Across all fronts, I might say! Also, if your schooling or other experiences have persuaded you that you will never be a writer, DEFY THEM! Go on!
What’s the best advice you were ever given? See the question above! But I got bogged down in paying bills and just coping day to day. And, hey, I know that’s’ part of life. We are all on a path, eh? That’s why you can’t give just any advice, willy-nilly. It needs to be individual and on an individual basis.
Harriet is a normal everyday girl (just like her readers) who really cares for her friends, sometimes gets into trouble, worries a lot, but always tries to do the right thing. She loves skateboarding and writing in her notebooks, and needs a new BFF to solve her mega-huge and awesomely nutty problems – and help complete her notebooks along the way.
As Harriet’s new bestie, she’ll ask readers for advice, to draw a picture of their own BFF, or even decorate a cool skateboard. It’s a visual feast of fun, enticing even the most reluctant readers with charming illustrations, illustrated text and sketching activities. Harriet also encourages problem-solving, self-understanding and empathy, making sure that her new friends learn as much from her as she does them!
The first two books in the series, Boys Beware and Pinkie Swear (Hinkler Books, $14.99), are laugh-out-loud funny and relatable adventures for readers looking for a good friend like Harriet. They are available here.