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    Simon is a children's author from Canberra, Australia. He writes stories for young people that are fast-paced, funny and often a little bit quirky.

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New book news

beach-at-ti-1932-slqI’m delighted to announce that my NEXT BOOK will be published by Penguin Random House in August 2017.

It’s a middle-grade historical adventure novel called The Fighting Stingrays. Set on Thursday Island in 1941, it follows the exploits of three friends – Charlie, Alf and Masa – as the threat of war looms over northern Australia.

There’s deep-sea pearl diving, a community torn apart, a pet rat, multiple brushes with death and one daring escape after another.

A lot of the details in this book are based on stories from my grandmother, who grew up on Thursday Island in the 1930s as the daughter of a pearl-shell company owner. ‘TI’ is a place a lot of Australians don’t know about, and one that played an important role in the second half of WWII.

I’m about to get stuck into the edits for this book. But basically, I think it’s the best thing I’ve ever written and I really hope you love it too.

A new home – Gorman House Arts Centre

I’ve given up my beloved home office for a few months while we build a new one (and hence a new house to go with it).

In the meantime, I’ve taken up a space at Canberra’s iconic Gorman House Arts Centre.

One of Canberra’s oldest buildings, Gorman House was constructed in the 1920s as hostel accomodation for the lowest paid government employees. It stayed as a hostel until the 1970s, when presumably the government started paying its public servants enough to afford a place of their own.

The building has since undergone significant renovations and is now home to many of Canberra’s artists and creative organisations.

It’s a great place to spend the working week, with co-workers that range from violin makers to illustrators to TV soundtrack composers. Plus, I reckon it must have once of the loveliest courtyards in the city.

Courtyard at Gorman House Arts Centre

 

Catch up with my Noted festival session

Simon Mitchell on stage at Noted Writers FestivalI’d like to give a huge thanks to everybody that came along to my sessions at Noted festival last month.

The audience at Ask Me Anything had some brilliant questions about writing for children, while the young ‘uns and I had a fantastic time at the Story Corner on Sunday.

Didn’t make it to the festival? Don’t worry, you can now re-live every last minute of my Ask Me Anything session below thanks to SoundCloud.

Ask Me Anything at Noted

Ever wondered how to get started writing for children? Or how it differs to writing for adults? And how much money do children’s authors make anyway?

Well, if you’re in Canberra this Saturday (19 March), you can find out the answers to these questions and many more by coming along to my Ask Me Anything session at the Noted festival. I’ll be on stage, ready and willing to answer your most burning queries about writing stories for young people.

When: 10.00am – 10.45am, Saturday 19 March
Where: Smith’s Alternative – 76 Alinga Street Canberra, ACT, 2601 (map)
Cost: FREE!

If you can’t make it along in person, you can tweet your questions to @NotedFestival with the hashtag #AskNoted.

I’ll also be running a storytime session for kids on Sunday morning along with Irma Gold.

When: 11.00am–12.00pm, Sunday 20 March
Where: B-Block Hall, Gorman Arts Centre, 55 Ainslie Avenue Braddon, ACT, 2612 (map)
Cost: FREE!

Noted is a great festival for word-lovers of all ages. There are dozens of fantastic FREE events on throughout the week, so check out the program and get involved.

My life right now

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First draft done!

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I just finished the first draft of what will hopefully become by new novel. It’s horribly inconsistent, and barely coherent in parts, but it’s DONE! Roll on the rewriting process…after a good lie down.

The prodigal author returns…to Canberra

Whew! April was quite the month for me. Because only a few days after I flew back from the Somerset Celebration of Literature, I moved from Melbourne to Canberra.

Now, if you’ve ever moved house, you’ll know that it’s about as much fun as poking a cactus into your eye. Well, moving interstate is even worse – maybe about as much fun as poking a cactus into your eye while eating rusty nails in a bathtub full of cold mucus. But finally, after packing up 100-odd cardboard boxes and shedding 10,000-odd tears of frustration, me, my wife, and my faithful hound Mabel have finally settled in Canberra. Keen visitors to this website (hi Mum and Dad!) might recall that I actually grew up in Canberra, so this is something of a homecoming for me.

Now, Canberra gets a bad wrap from a lot of people, but it’s actually a really awesome place to live.

For one thing, it’s incredibly beautiful. The autumn leaves are as red as a baboon’s backside, the sun setting over the Brindabella Ranges is as orange as the crumbs at the bottom of a Cheezels packet, and the morning air is as crisp and clear as a biscotti made of ice. Yes, it’s totally stunning.

For another thing, it has a zine vending machine!

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(Just between you and me, I think Mabel is enjoying the move the most out of anyone.)

 

And for me, Canberra is a place to work on few exciting writing projects I’ve had churning away in the back of the ol’ head for a while. Watch this space!

The Somerset Celebration of Literature

One of the best things about writing for young people is that you get to be a part of fantastic events like the Somerset Celebration of Literature.

Taking place on the sunny Gold Coast, Somerset has got to be Australia’s best children’s literature festival. I was one of more than 30 authors and illustrators involved in the 2015 event, and oh boy, was it fun – three days of chatting to kids about reading, writing, farting competitions, and Mabel, my amazing talking dog. I also had a wonderful visit to the Mudgeeraba Special School to chat about pirates, detectives and things that go crunch in the night.

There was also a gala party with a free lolly buffet (my 10 year old inner self nearly lost his mind with excitement), a children’s dinner where I got to wear a makeshift fez hat and repeat ‘my name is Judy’ over and over again, as well as what could be the best pop-up children’s bookshop on the planet. And of course, it was great to catch up with a few dozen of Australia’s many talented authors and illustrators.

This is a great festival for readers and writers of all ages, and I’d highly recommend checking it out if you are in the Gold Coast area.

I’d like to give the final word to the anonymous young creator of this charming potato comic posted on the festival notice board – I thought it was too weird and wonderful not to share!

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Los Misterios de Mr Olfato Fino – Sniffy goes Spanish!

Sniffy the Mouse Detective goes Spanish in Los Misterios de Mr. Olfato Fino

Sniffy the Mouse Detective speaks Spanish in the charming board book Los Misterios de Mr Olfato Fino – ¿A qué huele?

Now I just need to find a Spanish speaker to read it to me!

Cover reveal: The Mystery of the Midnight Crunch

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Hooray – it’s new book time!

My new picture book is entitled The Mystery of the Midnight Crunch. It’s the first story starring Sniffy the Mouse, a rodent detective who thinks of himself as Sherlock Holmes, but is really closer to Inspector Clouseau.

The Mystery of the Midnight Crunch will be out in September. In the meantime, how cool does this cover look?

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