After a short pause in proceedings we are back to our monthly Author Q&A. This time I bring you Australian children’s author, Lisa Van Der Wielen. Take a read and see how her love of writing is helping to tackle childhood anxiety.
Lisa Van Der Wielen is a primary school teacher and writer from Perth, Western Australia. Her passions for teaching and writing lead her to become a Children’s Author in 2017.
Her love for the beach, nature, dogs, family and the importance of virtues provide her with motivation to write poetry and stories that inspire. Her books proudly support the charities; Perth Children’s Hospital, Ronald McDonald House Charities Perth and Heart Kids.
Lisa Van Der Wielen is the author of:
The Life of Gus
Luna Lucy and the Planets
Aqua Dog Flames
Getting to Know You
What motivated you to become an indie author?
I have always loved writing and actually wrote my first book when I was only 5 years old. When I went through some difficult times in life in recent years, I decided to go back to doing things that I loved doing and writing was one of them. So I started writing children’s stories and sending away manuscripts to publishers. My first book was published through a publisher but I felt my input into that book was limited, for example I wasn’t able to choose the illustrator and the publisher had different ideas to what I had envisioned for the book. This then led me to the decision to self-publish my subsequent books. The whole Self-Publishing process has been a huge learning curve but I have found most people in the industry to be very supportive of each other and made some great friends along the way.
When you’re not writing, how do you spend your time?
Spending quality time with those that matter most like close family and friends. I love being in or near the water so in the Summer months I am usually swimming, or down the beach. I also love gardening and plants and being creative by writing, painting or drawing.
What is the greatest joy of writing for you?
Watching children enjoy reading my stories.
The Writing Process
What is your writing process?
I often get inspired with ideas at the strangest times, so I write them down on note paper or use the notes app on my iPhone. I then start brainstorming ideas for the book characters and how to develop the plot using a Story Map, then I start writing. I like to have my ideas down on paper first before typing out the story.
How do you get inspired to write?
I am a primary school teacher, so I get to read lots of children’s books! A few years ago I decided to start writing my own. I enjoy writing in rhyme so I tend to write rhyming poems and rhyming picture books, however I have started writing some middle grade fiction but haven’t published any yet.
Working with children and having two children of my own, does provide me with lots of inspiration to write stories. I think being around creative young minds inspires me to be more creative myself.
What’s your advice for aspiring writers?
To just write! To be creative and enjoy writing. To believe in the power of words. The inspiration behind writing my Aqua Dog book is a message to my younger self; to follow your passions. I think it is important to get to know the industry well and the people in it, so social media has been a big help for me in that department. I have been able to make some great contacts in the industry and everyone is very supportive of each other. So my biggest piece of advice would be to become actively involved in the writing industry. I have had the opportunity to work with some very talented Illustrators and to collaborate on the whole book making process. I am still constantly learning and growing as a writer, so another important piece of advice would be to adopt a growth mindset. But mostly important, the biggest and most important advice I could give is to not worry about what people might think or what market or audience you should target, but to do what you love and write, write, write!
What are your five favorite books, and why?
Tuesdays with Morrie is my favourite adult book. I love the moral to this story and being a teacher myself, this story holds true.
The rest of the list would be children’s books by my favourite author Roald Dahl. His witty and imaginative tales with endearing morals, are what helped inspire me to become a writer myself. Matilda, Charlie and the chocolate factory, The Witches and The Twits would be my favourites.
How do you discover the books you read?
Working in a school as a teacher, I am always on the look out for new children’s books in the school library to read for inspiration. Social Media recommendations on all sorts of books influence my reading list also.
What books are on your reading list this year?
A man called Ove
The boy, the mole, the fox and the horse
Atlas of the heart
Sometimes, it’s hard for Grace to overcome her anxiety. She tries and tries, but nothing ever seems to help. But one day, when she visits the beach with her family, she finds a cute little surprise in the sand dunes that might change everything…Little Dune – Lisa Van Der Wielen
Put your toes in the sand, you will be okay.
Let the ripples of water wash your worries away.
A wave is a worry, a worry’s a wave,
Stand up and face it, and learn to be brave.
Little Dune is a sweet and endearing story about how one little girl learns to conquer her anxiety.
What inspired you to write Little Dune?
The rates of Anxiety in children of today’s modern world are extremely alarming. Some recent global studies suggest that around 1 in 4 children are suffering with some form of Anxiety. I believe our Mental Health Care system and our Education system needs a complete reform to deal with the increasing rates of Anxiety and Mental Health issues amongst our growing population. I think Covid and Technology have been huge contributors to Anxiety in children in the modern world. We need to encourage and model the expressing of feelings and our society needs to prioritise creativity and expression in all its forms! My passion to advocate Mental Health for children is what inspired me to write my latest book Little Dune.
Is there going to be a follow up to Little Dune?
I would like to have a sequel to this book but I am not to sure how to navigate a follow up to this book. We shall see, stay tuned.