The first writing I did as a child was, I’m told, a letter to Santa Claus. My mother said I asked for ‘a typewriter and a good temper’. I’m not sure how old I was, probably about 5 or 6. When I was in sixth grade at a new one-teacher school, I wrote an essay about my ideal home. After the teacher read it aloud, children came up to me in the playground and accused me of plagiarism. Their accusations hurt me so much I can’t remember working hard at writing thereafter.
However, in my first year of high school, I befriended Pamela, the daughter of our English head-teacher. Pamela and I loved a series that was currently showing on TV – Adventures in Paradise. We both imagined ourselves the love interest of the leading man, Troy Donaghue. Consequently we spent hours in the playground co-writing TV scripts where Troy Donaghue would fall in love with each of us.
I wish when I was young someone would have given me books – both to read and to write in. But books were simply absent from my home. Their substitute was hard work on our farm. The only books I read as a child were borrowed once a week when I took myself to the local public library. I don’t remember the librarian ever offering me any books to read other than my regular diet of Enid Blyton books. Nowadays I am never without a book in my hands! Unless I’m writing, of course.
Di Bates is the author of 130+ books, mostly for young readers. Her website, which she shares with her YA author husband, Bill Condon, is http://www.enterprisingwords.com.au. Since 2006, Di has been producing a twice monthly magazine, Buzz Words, for those in the Australian children’s book industry http://www.buzzwordsmagazine.com She is a recipient of the Lady Cutler Award for distinguished services to children’s literature.