Award-winning children’s author, Aleesah Darlison, has published over 50 books for children and young adults – so surely she’s running out of inspiration by now!
Coming in a close second to eating chocolate, the thing Aleesah Darlison identifies as her favourite pastime is writing. When you look at her publication list, you’ll quickly realise that Aleesah Darlison also has a soft spot for animals. Her books include stories about green turtles (Emerald), bats (Warambi), koalas (Mama and Hug), echidnas (Puggle’s Problem), meerkats (Little Meerkat) and her current cuddly, llamas (League of Llamas series).
Aleesah Darlison never seems to stop – writing, visiting schools, mentoring emerging authors … the list goes on. Luckily for us, she was able to spare a few moments to share some of her secrets here.
Where do you get your inspiration and ideas for your writing?
Often from my own experiences, or the experiences of my children, and sometimes, when it’s firing well, my imagination!
What are your tips for children who ‘don’t know what to write’ when they’re faced with a blank page?
Either start with some free writing, (a stream of consciousness). Write whatever comes into your head until you’ve warmed up and the GOOD IDEAS start coming.
Or, think about something they feel passionately about (soccer, gaming, horse-riding – whatever) and go from there. Usually, if you are passionate about a subject, you’ll enjoy writing about it.
Which of your books holds a special place in your heart? Why?
That’s a tricky question! Like my children, I love all of my books. But, if pressed, I’m probably most proud of the books that turned into a series: Totally Twins, Netball Gems, Unicorn Riders, Little Witch, and League of Llamas.
When you’re writing a series, you spend a lot of time with your characters, so you get to know them well. You grow and develop as a writer while they’re growing and developing as characters. It can be hard to let go when the series comes to an end.
You can only choose one – which of your characters is your favourite and why?
It would definitely be Elloise Llamaresky from the League of Llamas series. Not only is she a llama (and we all know llamas are llamazing) she’s also a strong, empowered female who doesn’t let anyone or anything get in her way.
She’s also super gllamarous.
Okay, I’ll stop now.
What do you want people to gain from your books?
Most of all, I want people to take my stories to their hearts, love them, enjoy them, cherish them and remember them when they’re grown up. That’s the connection I desperately strive to make as an author. Hopefully, I achieve my goal sometimes!
When you think about children reading your books, how does this make you feel?
Ah, well, that’s the best feeling ever, knowing that kids are reading and enjoying (dare I say it, loving) your stories. That’s why we do this job. I had a child tell me recently that he got a million laughs out of my llama books and my heart almost burst with pride. That’s hard work paying off right there, that’s someone really ‘getting’ you as an author.
Aleesah Darlison loves to chat with students about books, writing, being an author, how to develop writing skills … anything students want to know.
As a special offer to schools, if you purchase a class set (minimum 10 books) of any of the titles in the League of Llamas Series, Aleesah will join your class for a FREE LIVE 30 minute online Q&A session (various platforms available including Zoom, Skype, and Microsoft Teams).
This offer is valid for Term 3 & Term 4, 2020 ONLY.
You can find out more about Aleesah Darlison and her books on her website (where you’ll find loads of resources and can also inquire about booking her for a visit), Facebook page or Instagram. And don’t to forget to check your local bookstore to grab your copy of each book in the League of Llamas series.
Children’s books can be used to inspire and engage students of all ages in a diverse range of topics and curriculum areas – not just limited to English, and certainly not to the junior primary years. For example, Warrambi (by Aleesah Darlison) could be used as the hook to open discussion about sustainability and ecology with Year 4 HASS students. Find out more about how Just Right Words can help you use picture books effectively in the senior school, or write comprehensive and useful teacher notes for your books.