Tuesday, July 25, 2017

Di BatesHere is Di Bates. If she looks a little bit tired, it's no wonder!

She has written more than 120 children's books, and has performed at hundreds of schools. As well as that, she works as costume director for her friend Clark Kent. (alias Superman). Have pity on her. Those phone booths are a tight squeeze.

Di BatesHere is Di Bates. If she looks a little bit tired, it's no wonder!

She has written more than 120 children's books, and has performed at hundreds of schools. As well as that, she works as costume director for her friend Clark Kent. (alias Superman). Have pity on her. Those phone booths are a tight squeeze.

How did you become a writer Di?

Before becoming a writer, I was a primary school teacher. I never thought about being an author until I was in my 30s and was seconded from my teaching job to work as an editorial assistant on the NSW Department of Education School Magazine which went to every public school in the state. The editor (and children's writer), the late Lilith Norman, was always making me re-write my stories, so although she really bugged me by never praising my stories, she challenged me to become a better writer.

When I moved a few months later to The Diggings, Dr George Mountain, Tanja via Bega (12 kms from the closest neighbour), I was bored. Writing a book helped filled in lonely hours. When I had my first book, Terri, accepted for publication, it gave me confidence to write a second, then a third... that was 120 books ago!

Which have been your most popular books?

No doubt they are the Grandma Cadbury and the Bushranger series, but The Last Refuge, my novel for 10 - 14 year olds, is important to me. The story is narrated by a young girl who witnesses, and is a victim of, domestic violence. I was abused as a child, and am pleased that through this book, I have been able to talk to the media, educators and other people in the field of child welfare about what I see as a deficiency of rights for children in our country. Since the book was published by Hodder Headline in 1996, I have received numerous letters from young readers who have responded sensitively to its message. The book has been translated into Italian and Danish, and was commended in the Australian Family Therapy Awards.

Two other books which I also consider important are a junior novel, The Shape, ( Allen & Unwin, 2000), which is based on the death of my daughter Kathleen, and Nobody's Boy (Celapene Press 2011), a junior verse novel about the experiences of my foster son Paul.

I have also written books on the real lives of children in Australia and around the world. Famous and Fabulous Kids (Rigby Heinemann), Champion Children (Heinemann Library) Resourceful Children (Rigby) and Aussie Kid Heroes (Interactive Press).

My focus on writing for children has always been to get them to read; thus most of my novels are humorous and lively.

What are some other highlights of your writing career?

Years ago I co-edited the children's magazine, Puffinalia, (Penguin Books) with the highly talented Doug MacLeod. Later, I worked on the editorial team of the NSW Department of School Education state-wide School Magazine and as editor of a national childrens' magazine, Little Ears.

I've been employed as writer-in-residence and tutor at numerous institutions, and toured with the Children's Book Council of Australia (NSW branch) and the National Book Council.

In 1991, I founded the south-western branch of the Children's Book Council of Australia (NSW) and was its president until 1994. In 2007 I also founded the Illawarra-South Coast CBCA and am now its publicity officer.

I also co-founded the Sydney Network of Children's Authors & Illustrators (now defunct), was founding president of the NSW south-west branch of the Fellowship of Australian Writers, and started CAINON (Children's Authors and Illustrators' Networking Online Newsletter, now known as Pass it On or PIO) and another online newsletter for children's writers, Buzz Words. One of my commercial writing jobs was as manager/editor of a provincial weekly newspaper.

For many years, (until the advent of Education Lending Rights in 2000), I presented author performances and conducted writing workshops as a NSW Department of Education Accredited performer in over 500 schools.

What's the best thing about being an author?

Meeting my readers and receiving fan letters. I also like being my own boss and getting to spend lots of time with my husband, Bill.

What awards have you won?

1987 Writer's Fellowship from the Literature Board of the Australia Council

1988 Writer's Fellowships from the Literature Board of the Australia Council

1988 West Australian Young Readers' Book Award (Grandma Cadbury's Trucking Tales)

1991 Varuna Writer-in-Residence

1993 Special Award, Australian Multicultural Children's Literature Award (I'm An Australian: A Classroom Journal)

1995 Varuna Writers' Centre Fellowship

1999 Kids' Own Australian Literature Award (Desert Dan the Dunnyman)

2003 Big Bad Bruce inducted into the KOALA Hall of Fame

2008 The Lady Cutler Award for distinguished services to chidren's literature

2010 CBCA Notable book (Nobody's Boy)

What industry ambitions do you have?

I'd like to continue to act as a mentor for many new writers and to educate writers about being professional as well as proactive in protecting their rights. And to write and publish until the day I die.

What is your work background?

Author of 120 books, mostly for children from ages 7 to young adult; former teacher; schools' performer; youth worker in a home for delinquent girls; factory hand; bookseller; university lecturer; voluntary welfare counsellor; advertising sales' representative; journalist; provincial weekly newspaper editor; foster mother; cable TV and community radio presenter; dishwasher; nurses' assistant; co-ordinator of a children's arts & crafts' centre; manuscript assessor; editorial assistant on national (Puffinalia) and state children's magazines (NSW Department of Education School Magazine).

Currently I work as a full-time freelance writer/author. I also offer online writing courses for children and for adults wishing to write for children, as well as manuscript assessments.

Where do you live?

In Woonona, a northern suburb of Wollongong, NSW, on the east coast of Australia with my husband, the award-winning children's author, Bill Condon. Bill and I have fostered a number of children including Ashley who has starred in movies and TV commercials, and Paul, fifth grade handball champion and avid reader. I have a married daughter, Claire who lives in Ottawa, Canada, where she is a publicist and freelance journalist. Claire and her husband Benoit have a daughter, Charlotte.

What's your favourite joke?

Q. What do you call two bushrangers?

A: A pair of knickers!

Paddington Public School

Di & Kids


These lovely children from Paddington Public School
in NSW reviewed some of my books in Challenge
(Victorian school magazine) a few years ago.


Big Bad Bruce (the biker) and Grandma Cadbury

Di with Big Bad Bruce (the biker) and Grandma Cadbury



Here I am in 2004 with Big Bad Bruce (the biker) and Grandma Cadbury at Woonona Public School, NSW. Our foster son, Paul,attended WPS in 2002-2003.