belinda murrell
belinda murrell - author
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FAQs

How many books have you written?
Twenty-two. The three books in the Sun Sword Trilogy - The Quest for the Sun Gem, The Voyage of the Owl and The Snowy Tower, then six time slip adventures - The Locket of Dreams, The Ruby Talisman,  The Ivory Rose, The Forgotten Pearl, The River Charm and my new book The Sequin Star. I have written nine books in my new series called Lulu Bell for 6 to 8 year olds and four picture books, which were released in the USA, UK, Australia and New Zealand a few years ago.

What is your favourite book you've written?
Very hard to say. I think probably my most recent books, so The River Charm and The Sequin Star.

Where do you get your ideas?
From everywhere around me - from my children, from my own travel adventures, from incidents that happened to me as a child, from stories people tell me or information I read. Anything can spark the seed of an idea, which my imagination then grows into a story.

Some of the adventures are based on experiences I have had during my own life. For example, in Voyage of the Owl there is a terrible storm and the ship is nearly lost when a rope gets caught around the rudder. One of the characters has to jump into the wild ocean, dive under the ship and cut the rope free. When I was a teenager I sailed with my father from Queensland to Sydney and we experienced a ferocious storm where this happened. My father left me alone on deck and dived under the yacht. He was gone so long I thought he was dead but he managed to free the rope and the yacht was saved.


How old were you when you started writing?
I have been writing as long as I can remember. At the age of eight, I was writing and illustrating novels in exercise books, heavily influenced by Enid Blyton.

Do you have children?
I have three children - Nick, aged 18, Emily aged 16 and Lachlan aged 14.

Where do you write?
At home, I have my own office where I write, but I have also written in many beautiful and wild places - in the Kimberley in far north Western Australia, in the Scottish highlands, on the verandah of a friend's cattle farm, on outback stations, in Margaret River...

Do your children provide inspiration for your stories or characters?
Yes - definitely. I included lots of things which my children love in books. For example, rather than realistic books about school life and soccer teams, my children love exciting adventure stories and fantastic quests where the children are brave and strong and clever. They love magical gems and cracking codes and puzzles. They love books that are funny but also a bit challenging. My sons Nick and Lachie love swords and bows and arrows, while my daughter Emily loves princesses, mermaids and animals.

Also the characters are loosely based on my children - Nick is like Ethan in some ways, clever and resourceful, Emily is like Lily with long, curly golden hair and Lachie is a bit like Saxon - funny and mischievous.

The children also help me when I am writing the books. I read the story aloud to them, when it is close to being finished and hear their feedback. Reading aloud helps me judge the pacing and from their reactions I can see if a scene is funny, or too slow or just right.


Do your children read your books?
I would have to say that my children are my biggest fans. They love the books and are always suggesting ideas for new books or funny scenes.

How did it feel when Random House accepted your first book?
It was one of the most exciting days of my life. There was much celebration in our family!

What is the best thing about writing for children?
I love seeing children reading my books and enjoying them. One day I saw a boy walking along the pavement with his head buried in the Quest for the Sun Gem and he was so engrossed in the book he nearly bumped into a lightpost. That was one of the best moments of my life. I also love meeting and talking to children about books. It is such a thrill when children talk to me about the book and tell me their favourite parts. I love sharing the books with my own children - they give me ideas and ask me questions about why I have written things.

Who are your favourite children's authors?
As a child I loved:

  • C.S Lewis - the Narnia series
  • Tolkein - Lord of the Rings and the Hobbit
  • Enid Blyton - the Famous Five series and The Faraway Tree.
  • Diana Wynne Jones

More recent authors include:

  • Anthony Horowitz - Alex Rider series
  • Eoin Colfer - Artemis Fowl series
  • John Flanagan's Ranger's Apprentice series,
  • my sister Kate Forsyth's books,
  • Alison Lester's picture books
  • Emily Rodda - Deltora Quest and Fairy Realm
  • Philip Pullman - His Dark Materials Trilogy
  • J.K Rowling, Harry Potter series


Do you have pets?
Our dog Asha, a Rhodesian Ridgeback was the inspiration for both Aisha in the Sun Sword Trilogy and Asha in he Lulu Bell series. A few years ago she had ten puppies which were so gorgeous, so her daughter Jessie also stars in the Lulu Bell series as the smiliest dog in the world. For many years, we had two very old Himalayan cats called Chloe and Coco, but they both died last year. We have a bay Australian stockhorse called Nutmeg that we keep on my brother's farm and a Stimson python called Sammy (yes a snake!!).

What did you do before writing children's books?
At Macquarie University I studied Communication (journalism) together with English Literature, including Creative writing and Children's Literature.

My working career after university always included writing - working as a technical writer, then variously as PR consultant, travel writer and TAFE teacher.

However once I had my own children I rediscovered the joy of imagination and my love of children's books. Writing books was a dream I had cherished since I was a child, yet with juggling children, husband, career mortgage, finances there seemed to be no time for creative writing.

What tips would you give kids who want to write?
The best advice I can give an aspiring writer is to write, write, write. Write every day. Write a journal so you practise recording impressions, descriptions, scenes and conversations. Write interesting letters. Write stories for the school magazine or for the local newspaper. Write your own books in exercise books or on the computer and bind them. And try to make your writing the very best you can - crisp, clear, beautiful.

Keep a notebook with you at all times so you can jot down ideas, descriptions, interesting names and quirky thoughts.

Write what you love and write the very best you can. Good writing depends on passion.

Finally read lots of books, because all fantastic writers were fantastic readers first.

Did growing up in a literary family make a difference to your desire to write?
In my family books were so important. We learned to read from a very young age and our favourite presents were books. We were encouraged to write a lot. As we grew up the question was not ‘will you write?' it was ‘what will you write?'

What is your fondest memory of writing?
I love writing but I have to say that the greatest joy comes from other people enjoying your work. My fondest memory was reading my finished manuscript to my own children and hearing how much they enjoyed it.

When do you find it hardest to write?
When I am tired or stressed. However the important thing to remember is just to keep writing, even if you are struggling.

Does your sister have an influence on your writing?
Yes, I would say Kate has a strong influence on my writing. We have always enjoyed talking about books and authors and writing, and now we enjoy talking about our work. We had the same upbringing and read many of the same books as children. We love many of the same books and hate many of the same things.

I think Kate was almost more excited than me when I had my first offer from Random House because she really knew how difficult it is to get published.

You can visit Kate's website at: www.kateforsyth.com.au


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