2019 wrap up

It’s the New Year! It’s the New Decade! It’s time to celebrate and look forward to 2020, which has such a lovely science-fiction ring to it. But it’s also a chance to look back and celebrate the past as well.

My BIG publication for 2019 was The Australia Survival Guide, released on 1 October by Puffin Australia. It was the culmination of LOTS of research and a lengthy writing period, and I am so proud of it. I also got to make some VERY silly vids to promote it. Loads of fun!

2019 also saw the publication of four school readers in Macmillan Education’s phonics-based Snappy Sounds series – Fly and SoarMike’s BikeBunny Knick Knack and Astronaut Jigsaw. Macmillan also released new editions of the three novelettes I wrote for them ten years ago – The Next FinderX Marks the MP3 and The Bookworm Mystery. But after all this, Macmillan Education announced that it was pulling out of Australia. The Snappy Sounds series has been passed on to Lioncrest Education, but the novelettes are now gone – although the rights have reverted to me, so maybe I’ll be able to find another publisher to take them on in the future.

And finally, in terms of publication, I had a short story, “Pure History”, appear in the Lethbridge-Stewart anthology, The Havoc Files: The Laughing Gnome. This was a BIG fanboy moment for me, getting to play in the peripheries of the Doctor Who sandbox.

You Choose: Alien Invaders From Beyond the Stars was shortlisted in the REAL awards (YABBAs, KOALAs and KROCs) again this year. This is the fifth time a You Choose book has been shortlisted in these awards, and the third time for this specific book. Although it didn’t win, it was still a HUGE honour to make that shortlist.

As well as all the writing, there was a large amount of speaking again. I did a couple of festivals — The Williamstown Literary Festival and Ipswich StoryArts Festival — a Wimmera mobile library tour, a week-long tour in the Circular Heads region of Tasmania, and a tour with other Penguin Random House authors to coincide with the YABBA/KOALA awards in Melbourne and Sydney. And, of course, there were loads of individual school and library visits. Here are the stats…

  • 41 schools
  • 7 libraries
  • 4 bookshop events
  • 3 festivals/conventions

Bringing the grand total to – 149 individual sessions.

I used to do a fair bit of acting back in my youth. I don’t do much any more. But occasionally something pops up. And in 2019, my guest spot on the audio series Night Terrace was broadcast by BBC Radio 4, which is was massive buzz!

Looking back on the last decade is rather astounding. This has been the decade of my writing career. In the last ten years I started being published by Penguin Random House (beginning with the first You Choose book in 2014), I went full-time as a writer and have managed to carve out a little niche for myself in the Australian children’s literature scene. This decade has seen three book series completed — You ChooseThe RFDS Adventures and OTHER WORLDS — and a new series of Survival Guides begun. It’s been an amazing ride. I look forward to seeing where the next ten years will take me.

2020 is, yet again, shaping up to be a big year. I have already announced The Human Body Survival Guide, and the fact that my Gamers trilogy is being re-branded, re-jacketed and re-published (the cover reveal is coming soon). I’ve got more school readers scheduled for publication. And there are some other things in the works.


PS. I am REALLY excited about the new series of Doctor Who.