Your shout: Choose your own adventure with Julie Fison
Journalist turned children’s book writer Julie Fison is encouraging young people to put down their phones and experience nature.
Julie Fison started her career as a television presenter in Albury, Victoria, later moving to Hong Kong and then London to follow her passion. But she’s come full circle back to her roots in Queensland.
The writer spent her childhood soaking up nature and exploring the islands and rivers of Moreton Bay, an experience she’s never forgotten. Now with two boys of her own, she wants to instil in them the same wonder and respect for nature and adventure that almost led to her becoming a marine biologist.
The family’s trips to the wilder and often overlooked parts of Noosa where encounters with snakes, stingrays and native wildlife are common, inspired her to write the children’s series Hazard River.
Drawing from her sons’ experiences and the natural world, she created a story told through the lens children where her characters come face to face with humanity’s impact on the environment.
“I was exploring their world through their eyes,” she said.
“It is a great way to remind yourself how kids are seeing everything, and you do have to have a lot of empathy to write and that’s something I found I really enjoyed tapping in to in their world.”
Over the past 10 years, Julie has written 11 books, two short stories and a play.
Her most recent holiday – a return to Borneo after 20 years – inspired her to write Choose your own Ever After: Call of the Wild. The main character, 13-year-old Phoebe Wright – based on Julie’s teenage self – is forced to decide between going to the coolest party of the year or attending an orangutan fundraiser. Julie knows exactly which option she would have chosen at that age.
“I wanted to create a character who loved animals as much as I did when I was a girl,” she said.
While Julie believes technology is getting in the way of children enjoying literature, she doesn’t think it’s because there is a lack of interest.
“I think the challenge for us is to find a way to make literature or stories more accessible or shorter,” she said.
“I think people enjoy shorter stories, they’re using technology to absorb stories that are just in a different format, but we just need to be a bit more creative and find better ways to share our stories.”
Julie also regularly visits schools and festivals to conduct writing workshops and talk about what makes a great story. If you would like her to visit your school, please contact Speakers Ink or Creative Net.
Listen to more from Julie below.