Looking Back at 2023

2023 was a good year for my writing. I had a novel, four school readers and an essay published. One of my books won an award (I also made it onto a couple of short lists) and another one of my books went overseas. I wrote a few things and did heaps of speaking. Yep… ‘twas a good year!

My major publication was Monster Island (Puffin), a middle grade science fiction adventure set on an island in the Bass Strait Triangle. The book is full of dinosaurs, cryptids and other creatures, as well as lots of mushrooms. It was QBD’s Kids’ Book of the Month for June. It got some great reviews and went into re-print. I did a promotional tour in Melbourne and Sydney, and created a stop-motion animated book trailer.

Four school readers were published by Cengage Learning (under their Nelson imprint) in the PM Guides Readers series. Two fiction titles and two non-fiction titles…

  • Message From the Stars
  • Code Cracking
  • The Titanic and Other Shipping Disasters
  • Roles in Movie Making

I’m continuing to work with Cengage Learning and there are more readers on the way.

My non-fiction book, The Human Body Survival Guide (Puffin, 2020), was published in Romania and Vietnam. It was kinda surreal seeing it in languages that I can’t read.

Two of my media tie-in publications made it onto the nominations for the SCRIBE Awards, presented by the International Association of Media Tie-in Writers. “The Lady Jessica Affair”, from UNIT: The Benton Files 2 (edited by Tim Gambrell), in the short story category. And my novel about the Brigadier’s granddaughter, The Mystery of Lucy Wilson: Memories of the Future, in the MG/YA category.

Related to the media tie-in stuff was the publication of an essay, “The Best of Both Worlds: Fanfic & Licensed Fiction”, in SPARK: How Fanfiction and Fandom Can Set Your Creativity on Fire, an anthology of essays from Improbable Press (edited by Atlin Merrikck).

But my highlight of 2023 was getting a YABBA Award for You Choose: Alien Invaders From Beyond the Stars. The YABBAs are Victoria’s kids’ choice awards, so just being nominated is a thrill. And winning the Fiction for Younger Readers section was kinda mind blowing. It shows how the You Choose books continue to find a new audience each year, even though the last of them was published in 2017.

Speaking gigs were again up on the previous year.

  • Schools: 56 (5 virtual)
  • Libraries: 5
  • Festival/Conferences: 4 (1 virtual)
  • Bookshop events: 1
  • Other events: 4 (3 virtual)

That’s 131 individual sessions (including 13 virtual sessions).

I already have bookings for next year, including two festivals. So it looks like this year will be just as busy!

It’s been a good writing year again, with school readers and short stories due for publication in 2024. I’m most excited about Down in the London Underground, my Doctor Who spinoff picture book, to be published soon by Candy Jar Books in the UK. I’ve also written numerous proposals and pitches that are out under consideration. Fingers crossed!

I’ve continued to draw as a hobby. It’s only an occasional hobby, when I find the time, so progress is slow. But I was rather pleased with this piece, my first attempt at water-colours since I was a kid…

2023 was, of course, the 60th Anniversary of Doctor Who. I loved the anniversary specials and already adore the new Doc, Ncuti Gatwa. I’m looking forward to his first season later this year.

And so, all there is left to say is…

Farewell 2023!


Hello 2024!