Children’s author and teacher, Lisa Van Der Wielen gains inspiration from being around young creative minds. I was fascinated to find out more about her writing journey and hope you enjoy this interview.

NLK: Can you tell us about your journey to publication?

LVDW: I have always loved writing and wrote my first book when I was only five years old.  When I went through some difficult times in recent years, I decided to go back to things I loved doing and writing was one of them.  So I started writing children’s stories and sending away manuscripts to publishers.  My first book was published through a publisher but I felt my input into the book was limited.  This led to the decision to self-publish my subsequent books.  The whole self-publishing process has been a huge learning curve but I have found most people in the industry to be supportive of each other and have made some great friends along the way.

NLK: What made you write for children? Does your role as a primary school teacher help you to write children’s books?

LVDW: I am a primary school teacher so I read lots of children’s books! A few years ago I decided to start writing my own. I enjoy writing in rhyme so tend to write rhyming poems and rhyming picture books. I have started writing some middle grade fiction but haven’t published any yet.

Working with children and having two children of my own provides me with lots of inspiration.  I think being around creative young minds inspires me to be more creative myself.

NLK: What do you believe is the biggest obstacle to writing?

LVDW: I think writing and book publishing process is a long process so in many ways the biggest obstacle is time. It is also difficult to get your work out in the world, and the writing part is definitely easier than book marketing!

NLK: How do you go about finding illustrators for your books? Do you have any tips for indie authors planning to work with illustrators?

LVDW: SCBWI is a wonderful organisation to get in contact with fellow writers and illustrators so my first tip would be to join this organisation.  It’s important to get to know the industry well and the people in it, and social media has been a big help for me.  I have made some great contacts in the industry and everyone is supportive of each other. I have had the opportunity to work with some talented West Australian Illustrators such as Alison Mutton (who illustrated Aqua Dog) and Stacey Fraticelli (who illustrated The Life of Gus).

NLK: Your books are widely available, do you have any tips for writers looking to increase distribution of their books?

LVDW: I still have lots to learn about the distribution process, but Ingramspark has helped get my books widely distributed throughout world.

NLK: What advice do you have emerging writers? 

LVDW: Just write! Be creative and enjoy writing. Believe in the power of words. The inspiration behind writing Aqua Dog is a message to my younger self — to follow my passions.

NLK: 2019 has been a great year for publication of your books? Can you tell us a little about each of the books you have out this year? 

LVDW: I published two picture books in 2019 and one of my poems was published in a Poetry Anthology with Stormy Island Publishing. It has been a busy year.  

Sea Glass Hearts

My poem titled “The Beach” was published in a poetry anthology by Stormy Island Publishing.  The beach is one of my favourite places so it’s a topic I like to write to about.

The Life of Gus

My most recent picture book, The Life of Gus has been a special project. As I love writing about dogs, I was asked by Ronald McDonald House Charities in Western Australia to write a book about their resident dog, Gus. I was born with a congenital heart defect and both of my daughters inherited this condition so being involved in this project has been a wonderful opportunity to give back to this amazing charity. 

The Life of Gus is about a special black Labrador who didn’t quite make the cut as a guide dog so he found himself with a career change as the Director of Hugs and Pats at Ronald McDonald House in Perth. This endearing book goes through the daily life of Gus and what his job entails, with the vital work of giving hugs and pats to the families staying at the house to make them feel relaxed and at home. All proceeds from every Gus book sold goes to Ronald McDonald House Charities Western Australia.

Aqua Dog

Aqua Dog is a border collie who loves to swim. I was a competitive swimmer growing up and always loved to swim so this character reflects myself a little. I dedicated this book to someone special who encouraged me to follow my passions — the whole moral to the story.  This book is all West Australian, with the story set in the Wheatbelt and the gorgeous illustrations by Alison Mutton capture the farming landscape beautifully. 

Aqua the farm dog really loves to swim,

Sometimes the farmer gets angry at him.

Instead of herding sheep he loves to splash.

Diving under water in a flash.

When the rain falls and the water levels rise.

A lesson is learnt of immeasurable size.

When a flood puts his talents to the test.

Is swimming what Aqua Dog does best?

A story about following your passions 

Buy Aqua Dog from Angus and Robertson

About Lisa Van Der Wielen

Lisa Van Der Wielen is a primary school teacher and writer from Perth, Western Australia.  Her passions for teaching and writing lead her to become a children’s author with her first picture book being published in 2017. Her books Vegetarian PolonyLuna Lucy, Aqua Dog and The Life of Gus support the charities Perth Children’s Hospital Foundation and Ronald McDonald House.  Her love for the beach, nature, dogs, family and the importance of virtues provide her with inspiration to write poetry and stories that inspire.

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