Deborah Abela – 2nd Interview with CKT

Deborah Abela

Q. Tell us 5 words that best describe you?

adventurous, determined, feisty, short but very tall inside (sorry not quite 5)

Q. Tell us a little about your writing journey. What prompted you to sit down and write your first story?

My first story was when I was 7….I loved the books made me feel life was an exciting adventure and I wanted to be part of that by trying to write my own stories.

Q. What’s the best thing about being a writer?

The reaction from kids to my books…there are some emails that can break your heart and lift you to very high places.

Q. How do you come up with your characters?

I take a little bit from people I know and add more….quirks, habits, idiosyncrasies….or if they’re brand new, I let them walk around in my head for a while until I can see them clearly. At first I make them walk, talk, act, but with tim, they behave independently from anything I do.

Q. Are you a plotter or a panster?

(Plotter =Plotting out your manuscript before you write it. / Panster = Putting pen to paper and plotting as you go along)
Plotter….I once wrote a novel without planning and it was like I was in a maze, going down wrong routes and then ended up throwing half of it away….about 50,000 words….it was a good lesson never to do that again.

Q. What’s the best piece of writing advice you have been given?

Don’t settle on your first idea….the second third or even seventh can often be the perfect one.

Q. What is the secret to engaging your reader early on in your story?

Snappy start that enters the action of the story after it has already begun.

Q. What is a typical writing day for you?

There is nothing typical about my day….I’d love a sream of writing only days where I’m up at 6 at my desk writing away and only coming away at night….but that rarely rarely happens.

Q. Which one of your books did you have the most fun writing?

My latest book is set in Malta during WW2 and follows as a young girl and her family who travel to Australia on an assisted passage….it’s based on my dad’s story of being born in a cave during one of the heaviest bombing raids of the war. The main character is called Theresa, after my very feisty, very strong nanna, who brought up 6 kids during the war, which almost destroyed and starved her country.

What’s next from Deborah Abela?

I wrote a cranky novel a few years ago called Grimsdon,  about a flooded city with sea monsters, flying machines and girls who are good with swords. It was my reaction to the world’s refusal to take climate change seriously. The sequel, New City  was never planned, but kids would write to me to ask me what happens next and I finally gave in….in this, my kids have been rescued and taken to a high tech city that seems perfect, but they soon discover the weather has gone mad and not everyone is treated equal. There are ornithopters, rescue eagles and a brand new bad guy.

Deb Abela Grimsdon footnote

2014 May Gibbs Fellowship
2013 Maurice Saxby Award for Services to Children’s Literature & Sisters In Crime Davitt Awards
2012 USBBY Outstanding International Book Awards & Real Awards
2011 Favourite Kids’ Book KBR, shortlisted Aurealis Awards, Real Awards & Speech Pathology Awards
2010 Shortlisted Koala, YABBA, Aurealis Awards & CBC Notable Book


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