Meet the Author: Dianne Bates

Di’s top tip for aspiring authors: Write the best book you can but be more persistent than anyone else!

2015-4Author of 130+ books, Dianne (Di) Bates is a full-time freelance writer. Di has worked as a newspaper and magazine editor and manuscript assessor. She founded Buzz Words in 2006. Di is a recipient of The Lady Cutler Award for distinguished services to children’s Literature. Her website is


Why do you write? I’m not very good at many things and happily because I’ve written so many books (over 130), I’ve made my living from writing for many years, thanks in large part to lending rights and CAL payments.

What would you be doing if you weren’t a writer? I’d be an events planner, a real estate agent, a stand-up comedian, a forensic pathologist or a detective.

What was your toughest obstacle to becoming published? Not hearing back from publishers. This didn’t happen when I began writing over 30 years ago, but nowadays most publishers don’t seem to have the time (or good manners) to acknowledge receipt of manuscripts or even to respond to them, unless of course it’s an acceptance.

How involved have you been in the development of your books? Do you have input into the cover/illustrations? Occasionally when I have a book contracted, a publisher submits two or three covers and asks my opinion, but other than that there has been no involvement post submission.

What’s the best aspect of your writing life? Working my own hours and being my own boss and being able to come up with ideas that usually lead to fruition.

—the worst? Not hearing back from publishers.

What would you do differently if you were starting out now as a writer? I don’t think I’d start if I knew all I now know. However, if I did proceed, I would find a mentor as well as a weekly writing critique group. I’d attend as many writing conferences and festivals as possible to network, and I’d read (and review) as many children’s books as possible. I’d write every day, but most importantly I’d learn how to edit fearlessly.

What do you wish you’d been told before you set out to become an author? Publication is possible, provided you learn the essential writing and editing skills and you are prepared to overcome lots of obstacles.

What are the most significant changes you have seen in the publishing industry since your first book was published? When I first started writing, I worked on a manual typewriter and now of course there are computers. One can now submit electronically, a very good change which saves a lot of paper and postage costs. As well, of course, authors are expected to do much more than just write, including self-promotion, usually on social media.

Do you consider it more difficult now for writers to become published? Yes, there is much more competition and of course many courses for would-be writers. But I truly believe that outstanding writing will always find a market.

 Is your experience as a much-published author an advantage to you as a publisher? How does that experience influence your role when commissioning work? As author, reader and reviewer I have developed a ‘nose’ for sniffing out quality writing. And being in the industry for decades, I know the names and work of published authors; also I keep an eye out for new talent. At About Kids Books ( I don’t commission books; I am most interested in social realism but any book which is beautifully written whatever its genre is the kind of book I want to publish.


game-of-keeps-cover-3_front_draftA Game of Keeps

Dianne Bates

Celapene Press

RRP $14.99

Bright and cheerful Ashley lives with her mum and pet guinea pig, Froggie. Ashley wants a lot of things in her life: a puppy, to be a dancer or actress when she grows up, and more attention from her mum. Most of all she wants her parents to be reunited.

When Ashley is faced with major changes in her life she meets Daisy and Will, a couple from ‘Aunts and Uncles’. In them she finds a loving couple able to support and encourage her just when she needs it. But can they help Ashley develop the closer relationship with her mum that she yearns for and guide her through the changes ahead? Ideal for readers aged 8 to 10 years.  Purchase from




Picturing Friends with illustrator Veronica Rooke

bio-pic-2It’s my great pleasure today to introduce my talented friendly neighbourhood illustrator Veronica Rooke.

When Veronica isn’t drawing, she’s either running with her friend’s geriatric greyhound or talking to the neighbour’s cat. And yes,  she insists he meows back. In thirty years, Veronica’s illustrated hundreds of T-shirt designs for the tourism market and created two very popular comic serials for The School Magazine. There’s been LOTS of other drawing as well, but what Veronica enjoys most is illustrating picture books….and cake.

I’ve been fortunate enough to have Veronica assigned to work on my latest picture book, Friends, due for release soon by Serenity Press. It was such an exciting process to see my simple rhymes translated into colourful pictures with a touch of humour. I’m always interested in finding out how the creative process works for writers and illustrators, so I put Veronica on the spot with some questions about her illustrations for Friends.


Why did you cast a koala as the main character in Friends? The text doesn’t specify any particular characters. Because of my work for the tourism industry, I know that koalas are the most popular animal. But I didn’t decide that straight away. I did sketches of all different animals for the first few pages. Then when I looked at it as a reader, it felt odd. I didn’t have a single character to identify the ‘friend’ theme with.  When I put the koala in, it did this for me.

How did you decide on which creature to place on which page? First, I worked out the text for each page. Then while reading each one, I imagined which animal I could apply to it. Some pages were easier than others. You have the theme the author puts into their book, but I always like to add an element of humour into the illustrations.

You have worked on Australiana designs for tee-shirts in the past. Did this experience make the illustration process for Friends easier? Yes. I’ve drawn Australian animals since 1992. Tourists preferred animals to be well drawn. So when they return home with their shirts, everyone can clearly see where they’ve been for a holiday. Correctly drawn animals are important for Australians too. You can always spot when a badly drawn kangaroo looks more like an oversized rabbit!

You’ve created a special font for this picture book. Why didn’t you use a standard font? I started with a standard font while working out the pages. After I married up the illustrations to the text, it looked too boring. Also every font in my computer has been used before. I wanted a unique font just for this book.

This is the third picture book of Teena’s you’ve illustrated. Did you use a different approach? I needed to keep in mind the styles in Teena’s other books. I didn’t want her to end up with a similar looking one. When an author displays their books at a fair or a talk, it’s better if they all look different. I’m hoping there will be more books we work on together, so they’ll need to look different again.

As an artist, how do you feel about author involvement in your creative process? I like it. It’s the author’s story, so I feel they should have input. It’s my job to make what they want look amazing. But I’ll also suggest things along the way.

What media have you used to create the illustrations for Friends? I’ve used pencils to draw the illustrations and then scanned them into Photoshop.

Is your creative process when illustrating a picture book always the same, or does the project influence how you work on it? I start them all the same. I read the text as soon as I get it and then put it away. While I’m doing other things (like boring housework), my brain is busily conjuring up images to go with the words. When I sit down to draw, I can start sketching straight away.

What did you enjoy most about working on Friends? It gave me the chance to draw Australian animals. Teena is a great author to work with too. (Thank you!)

What’s next for you? I’m excited to have Monique Mulligan’s new book Fergus the Farting Dragon to begin illustrating next. I’ve created the cover, so we know what the character looks like and also the style. It’s being published by Serenity Press. Drawing an animal farting….what isn’t there to love about that?



Written by Teena Raffa-Mulligan, illustrated by Veronica Rooke

What makes a friend special?