Allison Paterson grew up on a farm surrounded by sheep, dogs and chooks. She loved to read and enjoyed endless hours in the school library. She became a teacher and her love of reading and children’s literature forged a pathway to becoming a teacher librarian, the perfect job for a book-loving teacher. She also loved to write, and that path has now led to the life of an author, immersed in words, books and sharing stories. As well as writing, Allison presents talks in a range of situations and to audiences from Kindergarten to retirement villages, Anzac Day and Remembrance Day services, libraries, book shops and of course, she loves to visit schools. She is a book reviewer for Magpies Magazine, a publishing consultant for Big Sky Publishing, and a member of both Speaker’s Ink and the Greenleaf Press team, a support service and agency for authors, illustrators and presenters. When she is not writing, or reading, she enjoys swimming, catching up with her grown-up family and walking on the beach near her home on Queensland’s Sunshine Coast.
Who or what inspired you?
Much of my reading as a child was historical fiction and the stories I write today are all set in the past, being about family, rural life and WWI. The desire to honour the service of my ancestors was a huge inspiration and my first books, both the adult and childrens’ versions of Anzac Sons, are based on a collection of over 500 letters sent from the Western Front by my grandfather and his four brothers. Their courage and tragic sacrifices inspire me every day. The concept for Australia Remembers: Anzac Day, Remembrance Day and War Memorials has come from my experience of being a teacher librarian and writing Anzac Sons. Honouring the service of all members of our armed forces became very important to me. My children’s picture books Granny’s Place and Shearing Time are inspired by childhood memories of my grandparents and life on the farm, while my upcoming young adult book Follow After Me combines the past, today, family, rural life and war into one!
What has been your journey up to this point?
Anzac Sons took thirteen years of research, writing and procrastination and was published by Big Sky Publishing (BSP) in 2014. The desire to turn the collection of letters into a book was ignited over thirty years ago when the letters were found in an abandoned home on our property. Being a teacher librarian, I wanted to share the story with the children I teach. I wrote a very short version, added images, chopped it all up, glued it into a scrap book and pitched it to BSP in a coffee shop in Brisbane. Anzac Sons: Five Brothers on the Western Front came to be. It was longlisted in the 2016 ABIA and CBCA awards. Granny’s Place was written thirty years ago and literally tucked away in a drawer, that year I resigned from a job I loved to focus on sharing stories, a passion! In 2017 I was the recipient of a May Gibbs Children’s Literature Trust Creative Time Fellowship. The resulting young adult manuscript Follow After Me will be published in 2019. I now work full-time as a writer and presenter in schools, and this year I was thrilled when BSP invited me to do some casual work for them as an educational consultant.
What are you working on now?
Research! Australia Remembers: Anzac Day, Remembrance Day and War Memorials is the first in a series with Customs and Traditions of The Australian Defence Force to be released in 2019.
As a child, what was your relationship with books?
I loved books and the library was my favourite place at school! When I was really little I spent a lot of time at the top of the Faraway Tree!
What is the most important thing about what you do?
Sharing stories that may otherwise be lost over time is a great way to contribute, and conveying those stories to children is equally as important. Inspiring children to write and persevere in their own dreams also rates as one of the most important things I do.
What are the challenges you face in this industry?
The industry is small and has a tight market, and at times it is easy to become discouraged or be plagued by self-doubt, particularly as an emerging writer. My greatest challenge though is keeping up with social media!
What advice can you offer to aspiring authors?
Self-doubt leads to procrastination and truly stifles creativity. Don’t let it master you – sets goals and celebrate successes, believe in your work, surround yourself by people who believe in you and write your words, let them flow.
What is your definition of success?
I think that’s a fluid thing, based on striving to attain a goal, but then extending a little further and creating a new challenge.
What is your ultimate goal?
To find that place within where I’m totally comfortable with the core of what I can achieve, and to begin to give more back to the community. An inner peace!