HERE IS Di BATES. IF SHE LOOKS A LITTLE BIT TIRED, IT'S NO WONDER!
She has written more than 90 children's books, and has performed at hundreds of schools. As well as that, she works as costume director for her friend Clark Kent. Have pity on her. Those phone booths are a tight squeeze.
HOW DID YOU BECOME A WRITER, DI?
Before becoming a writer, I was a primary school teacher. I never thought about being an author until I was in my thirties and was seconded from my teaching job to work as an editorial assistant on the NSW Department of Education School Magazine which went to every public school in the state. The editor (and children's writer), Lilith Norman, was always making me re-write my stories, so although she really bugged me by never praising my stories, she challenged me to become a better writer.
When I moved a few months later to The Diggings, Dr George Mountain, Tanja via Bega (12 kms from the closest neighbour), I was bored. Writing a book helped filled in lonely hours. When I had my first book, Terri, accepted for publication, it gave me confidence to write a second, then a third... that was 90 books ago!
WHICH HAVE BEEN YOUR MOST POPULAR BOOKS?
No doubt they are the Grandma Cadbury and the Bushranger series, but The Last Refuge, my novel for 10 - 14 year olds, is important to me. The story is narrated by a young girl who witnesses, and is a victim of, domestic violence. I was abused as a child, and am pleased that through this book, I have been able to talk to the media, educators and other people in the field of child welfare about what I see as a deficiency of rights for children in our country. Since the book was published by Hodder Headline in 1996, I have received numerous letters from young readers who have responded sensitively to its message. The book has been translated into Italian and Danish, and was commended in the Australian Family Therapy Awards.
Another of my books which I consider very important is The Shape, published by Allen & Unwin in 2000 (CBC Notable Book of the Year). It is about a young girl whose sister has died and whose mother is acting very strangely. The book is based on my daughter's death and took over 20 years from inception to publication. I think this is my best written book. My focus on writing for children has always been to get them to read; thus my books are rarely literary but are mostly humorous and lively.
I have also written several books on childrens lives, including Famous and Fabulous Kids (Rigby Heinemann), Champion Children (Heinemann Library) and Resourceful Children (Rigby). I have been researching and writing a book, A History of Australian Children for some years and have given myself a deadline of 2010 to complete it. Children, their welfare, rights and achievements, are my passion.
WHAT ARE SOME OTHER HIGHLIGHTS OF YOUR WRITING CAREER?
Years ago I co-edited the childrens magazine, Puffinalia, (Penguin Books) with the highly talented Doug MacLeod. Later, I worked on the editorial team of the NSW Department of School Education state-wide School Magazine and I've been employed as writer-in-residence and tutor at numerous institutions, and toured with the Childrens Book Council of Australia (NSW branch) and the National Book Council.
In 1991, I founded the south-western branch of the Childrens Book Council (NSW) and was its president until 1994 (it is still flourishing). I am also a founding member of Sydney (Australia), Network of Childrens Authors & Illustrators, the NSW south-west branch of the Fellowship of Australian Writers, and CAINON (Childrens Authors and Illustrators Networking Online Newsletter.) One of my commercial writing jobs was as manager/editor of a provincial weekly newspaper.
For many years, (until the advent of Education Lending Rights in 2000), I presented author performances and conducted writing workshops as a NSW Department of Education Accredited performer in over 500 schools.
WHAT'S THE BEST THING ABOUT BEING AN AUTHOR?
Meeting my readers and receiving fan letters. I also like being my own boss and getting to spend lots of time with my husband, Bill.
WHAT AWARDS HAVE YOU WON?
1987 Writer's Fellowship from the Literature Board of the Australia Council
1988 Writers Fellowships from the Literature Board of the Australia Council
1988 West Australian Young Readers' Book Award (Grandma Cadbury's Trucking Tales)
1991 Varuna Writer-in-Residence
1993 Special Award, Australian Multicultural Children's Literature Award (I'm An Australian: A Classroom Journal)
1995 Varuna Writers Centre Fellowship
1999 Kids' Own Australian Literature Award (Desert Dan the Dunnyman)
2003 Big Bad Bruce inducted into the KOALA Hall of Fame
WHAT INDUSTRY AMBITIONS DO YOU HAVE?
To redress lack of rights for children in Australia and world-wide through activism and writing. To continue to act as a mentor for many new writers and to educate writers about being professional as well as proactive in protecting their rights. To write and publish until the day I die.
WHAT IS YOUR WORK BACKGROUND?
Author of 90 books, mostly for children from ages 7 to young adult; former teacher; schools performer; youth worker in a home for delinquent girls; factory hand; bookseller; university lecturer; voluntary welfare counsellor; advertising sales representative; journalist; provincial weekly newspaper editor; foster mother; cable TV and community radio presenter; dishwasher; nurses assistant; co-ordinator of a childrens arts & crafts centre; manuscript assessor; editorial assistant on national (Puffinalia) and state childrens magazines (NSW Department of Education School Magazine).
lovely children from Paddington Public School
I am in 2004 with Big Bad Bruce (the biker) andGrandma Cadbury at Woonona
Public School, NSW. Our foster son, Paul,attended WPS in 2002-2003.