So recently I had the opportunity to interview who I consider to be one of my favourite all time authors, and a huge inspiration for me as a writer: Belinda Murrell!
Whether you have read any of Belinda’s books or not, I urge you to pick up one of her time slip novels at the next opportunity- you won’t be dissapointed!
With that, here is the interview!
When did you first realize that you wanted to become an author?
When I was about eight, I started writing poems, plays, stories and novels in hand illustrated exercise books just because it was fun!! I kept writing all through school and university, then when I left uni I worked as a technical writer, journalist and freelance travel writer, but all the time I had a dream to write books. When my own children were young I started writing books for them, and then one day was brave enough to send a manuscript off to Random House – the first book in The Sun Sword Trilogy. They loved it and I’ve been writing kids books full-time ever since. My first novel was published in 2006 – and now I’m working on my thirtieth book!
How did you choose the genre that you write in?
I love to mix up genres – history, adventure, fantasy, with a twist of romance. I think most of my books are exciting adventure books – whether it is historical adventure like The Forgotten Pearl and The Lost Sapphire, timeslip adventure like The Ivory Rose, fantasy adventure like the Sun Sword, or everyday animal adventures like Lulu Bell.
What do you love most about being an author?
Definitely seeing children love my work! Getting emails from children saying that was the best book I’ve ever read! Watching a boy walk down the street and bump into a lightpost because he was reading one of my books!
Which of your works are you most proud of?
The River Charm is a very special book to me, because it is based on the true life adventures of my great-great-great grandmother, Charlotte Elizabeth Atkinson. Set in Australia, during the 1840s, it is the story of a family who lost everything but fought against almost insurmountable odds to regain their independence and their right to be together as a family. Being based on real life people, it was a very challenging book to research and to write, but of all my books, I think this is the one that I am most proud of. I especially loved visiting Oldbury, the beautiful sandstone house in Moss Vale, that my ancestors built in the 1820s.
How long does it usually take to complete writing a book?
It takes me about a year to write a time slip book like The Forgotten Pearl or The Lost Sapphire. I spend about three to four months doing the research, about three to four months writing the book, another two months editing the book and when the new book comes out I spend about two months on tour – visiting schools, doing signings at bookshops, speaking at festivals and doing media interviews – so it keeps me very busy!!
When can readers expect your next novel to be released?
This year, I am so excited to be launching a completely new series, called Pippa’s Island, for girls about 8 to 10 years old, as a step up from the Lulu Bell books. I was inspired to write the books by hearing from lots of parents and young girls, that they loved Lulu Bell, and had read all the books over and over again, but now needed something that was more challenging and slightly older.
So Pippa’s Island, it is about a girl called Pippa, who moves with her family from London, to a small tropical island on the other side of the world. She has to leave her home, her school and all her friends behind her, which is really tough.
So the series is about making friends, finding your courage and coping with change. It is about a gang of the best friends a girl could wish for, who form a secret club, called Sassy Sisters, who meet after school in a round tower on top of a boat-house. The girls are lively, fun-loving, bold, brave, creative and happy. But like all kids they have real life problems to face and lessons to learn – making friends, school, sport, squabbles, secrets, getting in trouble, fitting in, fashion, music, naughty pets, family, siblings and all the things that tween girls love and worry about.
The first two books – The Beach Shack and Cub Reporters will be released in July 2017, with a further two books that I’m writing at the moment, to be released in early 2018.
What was your favourite childhood novel?
When I was growing up, the book that most fired my imagination was The Lion, The Witch and The Wardrobe by C.S. Lewis. I loved its enticing mixture of adventure, action and fantasy. My sister and I would dress up in silver chain mail, with swords and bows and arrows, and play Narnia. I was enraptured by the idea that it might be possible to pass through a secret door into a magical world, full of talking animals and adventure.
How would you describe yourself in 3 words?
Determined. Hard-working. Adventurous.
If you could travel back to a time in history, where would you go and why?
I’m fascinated by many periods of history, and especially the ones that I’ve explored through my time slip novels, and I really feel as if I live in that world when I’m writing the book. But if I had to pick one – it would be Oldbury (the setting of The River Charm and the house that my great-great-great-great grandparents built). I’d love to meet the Atkinson family to see how they compare with my imaginings about them. I feel that I know these characters intimately after spending a year researching their lives and adventures. It would be amazing to meet them in real life.
What is your all time favourite read?
So hard to pick only one, but I’ll say Pride and Prejudice by Jane Austen. I discovered Jane Austen’s novels when I was a teenager and immediately loved them. I particularly enjoyed the satirical humour of her novels, the witty dialogue and the insight into late eighteenth century English society. I’m enjoying sharing Jane Austen with my own daughter now.
Thankyou Belinda for taking the time to answer my questions! 🙂