For the past year or two I’ve been working hard on a new project: a middle grade novel.
THE LITTLE WAVE is a contemporary verse novel for children aged 8+, set in Sydney’s Northern Beaches and Mullin, a fictional town in remote, rural NSW. Cricket enthusiast Jack lives in the bush and he’s desperate to see the ocean for the first time on an upcoming class beach trip. But his home life is tough and he’s not sure he’ll get there.
Surf grommet Noah and bug lover Lottie are paired up to plan a fundraiser to bring Jack’s class from Mullin to Sydney's coastline to try something new and learn about beach safety. The novel is written in three distinct voices and examines themes of friendship, teamwork, community, grief, bullying, courage, recovery, acceptance and second chances, as the lives of three very different kids intersect in surprising ways.
As a former surf lifesaver and competitive open water swimmer I've always loved the ocean. The creative spark for The Little Wave came while sitting on the sand after a swim at the beach. A group of rural schoolchildren (part of a Royal Far West residential camp who bring rural children to the coast) exuberantly ran down to the beach, playing in the surf, exploring rock pools and building sandcastles.
It was lovely to see many of these kids experience pounding waves, the taste of seawater and the vast ocean for the first time. I wondered what this was like for them, and how a coastal trip might send a ripple into their lives, and the lives of their hosts.
This is a book of firsts, courage and trying new things for me, too. I’ve written three previous YA novels, and this is my first time writing for a middle grade audience and the first time I’ve written in verse. I’m a huge fan of verse novelists like Sarah Crossan, Kat Apel and Steven Herrick and I wanted to try it myself. The spare, free poetry style and use of vivid imagery turned out to be a good fit for this story and I hope it appeals to both appeal to avid and reluctant readers. It’s out on 7 May in Australia and New Zealand.
To pre order, head here