Hi! I’m Deborah Kelly.
I grew up in New Zealand but have lived in lots of places including Japan, Scotland and, of course, Australia. I live with my husband and two kids in NSW.
I have written several picture books for children including The Bouncing Ball, Jam for Nana, Dinosaur Disco (Random House) and the soon to be released Me and You (Penguin Viking). I also have a picture book coming out in 2017 with EK books. I have written books for Macmillan Education, including Sam’s Great Invention and Don’t Sweat It. My short stories for children are included in Random House’s Stories for Boys and Stories for Girls anthologies.
This year Wombat Books published my first chapter book Ruby Wishfingers: Skydancer’s Escape, which has been beautifully illustrated by Leigh Hedstrom. The second and third books in the series will be published this year also, Ruby Wishfingers: Toad-ally Magic and Ruby Wishfingers: Hide and Seek. Two more Ruby Wishfingers books are also scheduled for next year. I hope that kids will have as much fun reading the Ruby Wishfingers books as I had writing them!
I regularly visit schools, festivals and libraries to share my books with children and chat about writing. For me it is one of the greatest things about being a children’s author!
1) What was the first story you ever wrote and has it been published?
My first attempt at writing a children’s picture book was cringe worthy. Without going into too much detail, it involved a ladybug with a bad case of wind. I’m very thankful it never made it to publication!
2) What is your favourite part about being an author?
There are so many things I love about being an author. Working in my pyjamas. Drinking copious amounts of tea. Getting lost for hours in my own imagination. Seeing my characters brought to life by illustrators. Getting to work with talented, dedicated people in the publishing industry who are passionate about what they do. Being part of a community of inspiring, creative people. Being able to visit lots of great schools, libraries and festivals to share my books with kids. It’s an absolute honour and a privilege to be able to speak directly to children, all over the world, through my books.
3) What do you do for fun?
I love spending time with my family and friends and just being silly with my kids. I love bushwalking and swimming. And I read a lot! I am also a dedicated yogi. I couldn’t imagine life without my daily yoga practice!
4) How do you test out your stories? Or who do you test them on?
I always let a manuscript have a ‘cooling off’ period before showing it to family or friends. If I get a good response from them and I still like it a month or so later, I might think about submitting it to a publisher.
5) What was your favourite children’s book when you were a kid?
There were too many to count! I still have my childhood copies of The House that Sailed Away by Pat Hutchins and The World Around the Corner by Maurice Gee—two books that I adored as a child!
6) Have you ever travelled overseas as an author?
I spent four years living and working overseas and I’ve been to lots of countries as a backpacker! I’m yet to experience travelling as an author on tour—but I think it would be great fun!
7) Have you met anyone even more famous than you that was exciting?
I said hi to Bob Geldof when I was working at a train station in Scotland! He was there for the Make Poverty History concert. I’ve also met Jeanette Winterson, Dame Kirri Te Kanawa and Jenny Morris. I’ve met loads of amazing authors and illustrators, far too many to count and all of them much more famous than me!
8) What writing do you like to do the most?
I love being in the ‘flow’—those wonderful moments where I’m just watching the story play out in my mind. I write it all down as fast as I can and worry about editing it later!
9) Where do you see the future of children’s books?
I certainly prefer print books over anything electronic. So do most people I know. I think this is especially true of children—particularly toddlers who are very tactile creatures!
10) What is your favourite way/time to read?
Snuggled up in bed on a rainy evening, when the kids are asleep and the house is blissfully quiet!