Tuesday, February 11, 2014

From Australia With Love Blog Hop: Interview with Melissa Gijsbers

Australian writers rock. We know it, and we love them. But it’s not always easy to discover the Australian talent that is right under our noses.

From Australia With Love Blog Hop introduces you to 18 Aussie authors across a variety of categories and genres. Each author is hosting three of their fellow blog hop participants between now and Valentine’s Day to let you find out more about them. So follow them on twitter, like their Facebook page and visit their blogs during the blog hop period to discover more great Australian writers.

And to show how much these Aussie authors love their readers, they’ve donated some great prizes for you to win!

Today we have much beloved Aussie Chapter Book writer Melissa Gijsbers stopping by. 

1) What drew you to write Chapter Books?

In 2012, I participated in the 12x12 in 12 challenge with Julie Hedlund. The challenge was to write 12 drafts of a picture book in 12 months. As part of this, I was invited by Becky Fyfe to participate in the Chapter Book Challenge. In March that year, I wrote my first chapter book and loved it. I participated in 2013 and am planning to participate again this year.

As part of the challenge, I’ve found that telling great stories for primary school kids is challenging and important.

I have two boys who are advanced readers. It has been hard finding books for them to read. I use them as my beta readers and they have given me some fantastic feedback to make the stories better as well as help me realise how important it is to cater for advanced readers.

2) What are the key elements to make an entertaining Chapter Book?

Characters that spark the imagination of the reader.
Stories that suck them in.

My two boys have very different tastes in books, and these two things seem to be what they all have in common. If the characters make easy dress up characters for book week, that’s a bonus!

3) Tell us a bit about your characters and how you came up with them?

I write a variety of different stories that have different characters in them. Most of them have been inspired by my kids, though the chapter book I’m currently working on has a main character based on me.

4) Which author(s) inspire you?

Where do I start? There are so many. Most recently, authors like Adam Wallace has inspired me, I have to admit to having a ‘fangirl’ moment seeing his books on the shelf at the educational bookshop I went to to pick up books for high school and thinking “I can’t wait until I see my books there too.”

5) How do you get over writer's block?

One is to write something else for a while. This could be complete rubbish or the start of a new story. Often this works to clear the road block.

The other way is to do something else. This could be housework, watching a DVD, kicking the football with my kids, or having an early night. Sometimes I just need to clear my head and the writing starts flowing again.

6) What projects are you working on that you're excited about?

Right now, I’m working on a story about bullying. I’m at the editing stage and it’s coming together really well.


Melissa Gijsbers is a Melbourne based author who writes chapter books, picture books, flash fiction and non-fiction. In 2013, she had eight stories published in three anthologies, her first published work since high school! As well as writing, she is the mother of two boys and works as a bookkeeper. You can read more about her on her blog www.melissawrites.com.au, her author website www.melissagijsbers.com (launching in March 2014) or connect with her on Facebook.

Melissa has eight flash fiction stories published in three anthologies. Teapot Tales: a collection of unique fairy tales features three fractured fairy tales, Jingle Bells: tales of holiday spirit from around the World also features three stories with a Christmas theme, and Tales by the Tree features two Christmas stories.

You can read A Magical Moment, from Tales by the Tree here

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  1. Wonderful interview, Melissa! My girls can't wait to read the new story!

  2. Yay Melissa. I didn't know about this blog hop until you showed up in my feed. :) Thanks for sharing with us.

  3. What a great interview! Loved the chance to learn a little more about you, Melissa.