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Author of iconic Aussie children's book joins Writers' Fest

AVID READER: Mem Fox, author of Possum Magic, says you have to read before you can write.
AVID READER: Mem Fox, author of Possum Magic, says you have to read before you can write. Cathy Adams

MULTI-award winning author Mem Fox, creator of the beloved children's classic Possum Magic, will be one of the many authors bringing their advice and tips to budding writers at this year's Byron Bay Writer's Festival.

Her beautifully illustrated, iconic Australian characters, Hush and Grandma Poss, are etched in the minds of the millions who read the book as children, and who read the book to their children.

So what makes a good writer?

According to Ms Fox, it's having a solid foundation as a reader.

"There's no possibility of a writer writing anything well if she or he hasn't been a reader first," she said.

"A reader of poetry, literary novels, children's books, newspapers, Shakespeare, the Bible, Dr Seuss, Jane Austen, Dickens and the novels that receive a lot of attention in the review pages every months."

As well as having a solid understanding of the technical aspects of writing, a writer must also develop an uncanny ability to find inspiration.

The cover of Mem Fox's classic children's book, Possum Magic.
The cover of Mem Fox's classic children's book, Possum Magic.

For Ms Fox, that inspiration comes largely from real life.

"I hear things. I feel things. I see things. I read things," she said.

"The imaginative side of my work only kicks in after a real-life idea has taken hold in my heart, rather than in my brain."

Knowing when to persevere and when to go back to the drawing board is also a big part of becoming a successful writer.

Ms Fox's Possum Magic was rejected nine times over five years before it was finally published in 1983.

"I've come to learn over the years that having an acute sense of dissatisfaction with one's work is really the first requisite," she said.

"I look at things I have written and ask in wonder how I ever dreamt that they were ready for publication.

"If I feel I have the theme, the characters and the crisis, I persevere because I know the only way of solving any problem is by re-writing again and again and again."

This year will be the Possum Magic author's second Byron Bay Writer's Festival.

Mem Fox will be one of 130 writers, thinkers and creative spirits to descend on Byron Bay over three days, from August 1-3, for the 18th Byron Bay Writers Festival.

Topics:  author books children



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