The adventures of Mr Walker are based on a real dog who lives at the Park Hyatt Melbourne. How did you first come across this story?
I wasn’t familiar with Mr Walker until my publisher Holly Toohey from Penguin Random House introduced me to him. I had written the Little Paws series with her and Guide Dogs and it had been a very successful collaboration. Holly approached me with the idea of a series of books about this wonderful dog who lived in a posh hotel inspired by the real Mr Walker. I was so thrilled to have been asked. It’s been such a wonderful world to carry around in my head.
You’re also the co-author of the hugely successful Bindi Wildlife Adventure series, RSPCA Animal Tales series. Are you hoping to send a message to kids about animals?
I hope so! I adore animals both wild and domestic. It’s a topic I am very passionate about. I hope that people who read my books get the message that we are lucky to have these exquisite creatures in our lives and in our world. And we need to look after them.
You mention on your website that many of your ideas come from your own adventures when travelling, can you tell us about one of these adventures?
Keeper of the Crystals is a fantasy adventure series about a girl called Eve who can travel to other worlds. The idea came from visiting my Grandmother in South Africa. We would stay in this sleepy town to see her and I always day dreamed about what adventures we could have when we climbed her apricot tree and vanished over the back fence. Eve does something similar when she climbs up in her Gran’s attic (which is forbidden) and touches a small crystal which acts as a portal.
As a writer who also runs writing workshops for kids what advice can you give to little aspiring writers?
I love it when kids in my classes have fun with their story. When they are allowed to have ownership of their ideas and push the story as far as they can. Their eyes light up when they see the potential for a new idea. It’s magic to be a part of.
Advice I would give is to keep writing. It’s like anything, the more you practice, the easier it becomes.
At Better Reading Kids we always have parents, teachers and librarians coming to us for book ideas for children, what were some of your favourites growing up?
I’m firmly from the Enid Blyton era. I was a huge fan of The Famous Five and Secret Seven, Magic Faraway Tree and the Wishing Chair. I loved Trixie Belden and Nancy Drew and the adventures Hal and Roger had in the Willard Price Adventure books. All of these stories involve kids working together to solve mysteries. My favourite kind of story!
Jess Black is an Australian author of children’s books. She has written over thirty junior fiction books and two picture books, Moon Dance and The Bold Australian Girl (July 2017 release). Jess is the author of the Keeper of the Crystals series and the co-author of the hugely successful Bindi Wildlife Adventure series, RSPCA Animal Tales series and The Kaboom Kid series with David Warner.
Find out more about author Jess Black here.