I'm a West Australian author, editor, guest speaker and workshop presenter with a lifelong passion for books and writing. My publications include poems, short stories, picture books, chapter books, middle grade novels and short romances. During a long career in journalism my articles appeared in a diverse range of publications and I edited newspapers, magazines and anthologies. Now retired, I’m enjoying the freedom to focus on writing fiction.
I had five minutes of fame in 1982 when my first picture book was published. It was a stranger danger tale about an elephant and a tiger and received a lot of attention because of its topic: radio, TV, magazines, newspapers, endorsed by the WA police and education departments, used in schools around the country. I thought I had it made as a writer. I was wrong! Another 15 years passed before my next two picture books were published.
Why do you write?
Stories have the power to change the way readers think; to create empathy with others whose experiences are different from our own; and to encourage us to see situations from another viewpoint. My writing may not change readers’ lives, but I hope at the least it will a deliver a smile to their day no matter how old they are.
It’s very easy to measure our success as writers by what we’ve had published and to feel disappointed if we don’t make the grade. Getting published is great – it’s a real buzz – but what excites me more is tapping into my creative energy and giving it an outlet. It’s my lifeblood. And while writing is always going to be the main stream of my creative expression, it’s complemented by occasional detours into art, photography and craft. Now, instead of feeling guilty when I’m not giving my full attention to ``becoming’’ a writer, I enjoy the adventure.
What do you write about, what’s your style?
Much of my writing is for children and it tends be whimsical or a little bit quirky, with a feel-good ending. I’ve also started writing light-hearted, flirty romances.
My books for children range from picture books to middle grade novels, so all ages from early childhood to pre-teens. My romances would appeal to readers who like their love stories light and fluffy with a happy-for-now ending.
One of my critique group partners made me feel all warm and fuzzy when she wrote this on my manuscript: ‘I’m beginning to think you have bottles of delight and whimsy in your office and you sprinkle them on your stories because your stories are always delightful and whimsical.”
This comment also made me smile: “You truly have a unique way with words. The beauty about your writing is that I can read it and see the scenes unfolding and happening in my mind. You create beautiful visuals.”
When other authors offer this sort of feedback on my writing there’s no question it makes my heart sing.
The Seven Day Dragon is a quirky, warm-hearted story for eight to eleven-year-olds about family, relationships and accepting what is, while still seeing that life is full of possibilities when minds are open.
Joshua Jones has no one in the world except a fruit loop of a gran and they live in a tiny city flat so he can't even have a pet.
When a spectacular creature on a seven-day visit from Jupiter offers to be his houseguest during its Earth stay, Josh thinks his luck has changed. His nothing life is about to become awesome.
His celestial visitor eats frozen peas and crossword puzzles, answers questions with questions and is invisible to everyone except him. That should have warned Josh to expect the unexpected. He finds himself in trouble at school and minus a best friend.
As the days pass, time is running out for Josh to get a trip to Jupiter, which would have made up for all the complications Traveller has caused. Soon his house guest will be gone. Old Bob, the only person who seems to understand Josh, will be gone too. Josh’s life will be back the way it was… or will it?
Above: Illustrator Ella Mae and Author Teena Raffa-Mulligan at the launch of The Seven Day Dragon.
Why did you write it? What inspired you?
I was inspired to write The Seven Day Dragon by the imaginary friends my children had when they were small and their insatiable curiosity about the world. This sense of wonder and discovery gets lost as we grow up. I should note that while my three did bring home a tiger, a panda, The Lady and sharks in the garden, they never brought home anything remotely like Joshua Jones’s spectacular interplanetary visitor.
Through Josh’s story I hope children will be encouraged to continue to ask questions, seek answers and retain their spirit of inquiry about the world and all that’s in it.
“What a delightful story The Seven Day Dragon is! I love quirky tales with a sense of humour about the world, and Teena excels at these. I bought her books for my grandson when he was younger and can highly recommend them. One gets so tired of dark, miserable or violent tales.”