Hazel Edwards is an accomplished Australian writer best known for her children\u2019s classic \u2013 There\u2019s a Hippopotamus on Our Roof Eating Cake series.\u00a0Melbourne-based Edwards has published over 200 books and is both a Reading Ambassador and an active mentor for new writers.\r\n\r\nSome of Hazel\u2019s books have been translated into numerous languages including her Sparkler\u2019s series school reader Kalo Li\u2019s New Country which I had the privilege of illustrating.\r\n\r\nI chatted with Hazel recently to see if she had any advice for the Writer\u2019s Edit community.\r\n\r\nWriter Coralie James interviews author Hazel Edwards about her work, her inspiration and her advice for emerging writers...\r\nHazel, you have written a lot of books! Where do you find your inspiration?\r\n\u2018Where do you get your ideas?\u2019 is the question\u00a0most\u00a0asked of any writer. Won by a kilometre from \u2018Will you put me in a book?\u2019 or \u2018Do you pinch ideas from TV?\u2019 But an author who has more than one publication finds it genuinely difficult to answer, even when readers think they are being polite in asking.\r\n\r\nOften the idea hasn\u2019t come from one place. It\u2019s a combination of stimuli. And these days the format in which the book is written in highly relevant. Maybe an e-book? Soon it could be smellovision?\r\n\r\nMy usual answer is:\u00a0From my ideas notebook. Via eavesdropping, stickybeaking, my newspaper clippings file, digital shots, juxtaposing of ideas and asking \u201cWhat if?". Anecdotal stories, observation of characters and increasingly, choosing a setting where people have varied motives such as airports or Antarctica - and investigating the possibilities, often for a mystery.\r\n\r\nI carry a digital camera to shoot ambiguous signs like\u00a0Disabled Pokies Parking\u00a0or\u00a0Dead End\u00a0near a cemetery. I keep Spirax notebooks where I jot hypothetical ideas based on observed facts such as \u2018What if high rise building\/water restriction\/water police exist \u2026 and renters don\u2019t want to get up early to water plants on designated days, and this causes bad feeling in a shared building amongst owner occupiers?\u2019\r\n\r\nMy weakness is that I don\u2019t date the ideas. I know it would make sense to do so. I just don\u2019t get around to it.\r\n\r\nI had my first baby and book acceptance in the same year. \u2018General Store\u2019 a YA novel set in Gippsland was my first fiction.\u00a0Write about what you know\u00a0is good advice for the setting of your first book. I\u2019d lived in a country store as a teenager, but it is not an autobiography.\r\nHow did you become a writer? Was it something you always hoped to be?\r\nMy Grandma taught me to read before I went to school. Reading was an acceptable excuse for avoiding the dreaded \u2018washing up\u2019 job. Words were the codes to ideas.\u00a0 Books opened new worlds, and I knew I\u2019d like to continue learning new things, so becoming an author was one way.\r\n\r\nI went to night school while I was working. Later trained as a primary teacher, I was also a teachers\u2019 college lecturer in reading and studied at Monash University for my post-graduate degrees, but part-time, while working and having children. My children joke that they went to uni, even before they were born, in my tummy. I remember sneaking into the back of a significant lecture with a baby, deciding I\u2019d leave once she yelled but the lecturer\u2019s voice put her to sleep. I\u2019m always sympathetic to mature- aged students who juggle their roles, and did my master\u2019s thesis on that subject of women returning to study.\r\n\r\nAuthor Hazel Edwards and her numerous books...\r\nCan you tell us a bit more about your life as an author and how you nurture your creativity?\r\nWriting daily. Researching on site. Interviewing. PR such as autographing in bookshops or answering guest blogs. Time and energy management. Often responses occur a long time after you\u2019ve had the idea and done the work. Getting others to value the quality of work, financially and philosophically.\r\nMost writers are workaholics because private and business life is intertwined. Often home offices mean colleagues meet your family or travel is work.\r\nAs solo operator in a very small business of ideas\u2026. being an author, you are the boss but also the person who cleans the toilets or fills in the BAS.\r\n\r\nCertain times of the year, like Book or History Week, I speak and travel a lot (bananas are good for the throat).\u00a0\u00a0Other times, I write in concentrated 8am to 5pm days, in my home office\u00a0with a break for mid-afternoon exercise like a swim, walk or belly-dancing. Increasingly the administrivia of being an author takes more time than the original story writing.\u00a0\u00a0I utilise my website, with links, so I\u00a0answer once and have bio details and hi-res photo available there.\u00a0That\u2019s why I\u2019ve provided the links to previous guest blogs etc. under Interviews on my website. Increasingly I try to use electronic aids such as \u2018web-chat interviews\u2018 or mentoring online, to save on travelling. Skype is very useful.\r\n\r\nI\u2019ve spent many years \u2018juggling\u2019, doing too much but realised that in order to pace my creativity I had to allow for 'fallow' thinking time. I never 'do nothing\u2019. I just switch to more physical things.\r\nYou have written books for all ages and genres particularly children. Why have you chosen to do that?\r\nI like the variety of adult and children, fiction and non fiction, books, short pieces and scripts for performance. Much depends upon the best \u2018shape\u2019 in which to craft that idea and for which audience. Currently I\u2019m learning to write in new media, for my author website, possible Apps and also for children\u2019s theatre which is my secret love.\r\n\r\nAlthough I came from a family which valued reading, I didn\u2019t know any writers. Trained as a primary teacher, later a lecturer. I\u2019ve always written for all ages but children\u2019s books are harder to write. When my two children were small, I was inadvertently \u2018researching\u2019, even on family holidays or while orienteering each week as a family. As a working parent, I learnt to use every writing minute.\r\n\r\nOne of the many children's classics written by Hazel Edwards...\r\nWhat advice would you give to new writers?\r\nRead more! Read widely in the area in which you want to write. A new writer needs to absorb the \u2018shape\u2019 of that kind of writing and consider reading as research, not just procrastinating pleasure.\r\n\r\nRead twice, once as a reader and next as a writer to observe the technicalities of characterisation, humour etc.\r\nEstablish the habit. Write regularly, for a set time or number of words. Expect that not everything you write will be usable. Don\u2019t be precious. Just get started.\r\nMentors are in short supply but do your utmost to find one. The Australian Society of Authors (ASA) is a good place to start: www.asauthors.org as well as the writers\u2019 centre in your state.\r\n\r\nAs a writer, you live more intensively, using participant-observation. You do things, using all senses, knowing you will write about them afterwards. My three hints to aspiring writers are: Write regularly. Persist. And always consider your reader- who are you writing for?\r\n\r\nA professional writer is a very small business of one person; a solo trader in literary ideas. Those who are not businesslike are unlikely to survive. Authors need to learn new skills fast and many have a philosophical conflict. They feel the worth of their writing should be obvious and that the business of marketing and promoting their book is an additional role, after the hard work invested in researching and writing. Many regard marketing as part of the financials and many struggle even with account keeping.\r\n\r\nYet another of Hazel Edwards' classic children's titles...\r\nYou have coined the term \u2018Authorpreneur\u2019? What does this mean?\r\nThe business of creativity is changing, not just in the formats in which ideas are presented internationally but also how authors perceive themselves. Today, a creator needs to be an \u2018authorpreneur\u2019.\r\nAuthor\u00a0= originator; Entrepreneur\u00a0= seller who initiates\r\nApart from crafting words or images for specific audiences, \u2018authorpreneurship\u2019 means learning the marketing, publicity, and technological, legal and entrepreneurial skills to establish and maintain creative self-employment in the business of ideas.\r\n\r\nSome feel uncomfortable with the idea of considering creativity a business. And they feel overwhelmed with the digital skills needed. Constant innovation and the need to keep up can be overwhelming, especially when you are the only person to do it all.\u00a0Authorpreneurship\u00a0is about sharing strategies which enable you to work effectively at what you most enjoy doing, but also provide ways for you to streamline the process, so you can sell your ideas for longer, in varied new formats and to larger audiences.\r\n\r\nThe notion of \u2018crafting\u2019 with the audience as a priority, not just the writer\u2019s needs is a valid therapy and produces more effective writing, without the tone overwhelming the reader.\r\n\r\nI think a website is absolutely vital for an author. It gives an international presence, particularly for an author of my type \u2013 someone who writes across a number of fields, for a number of publishers and in a number of roles. In a sense, I\u2019m the author brand name.\r\n\r\nIt\u2019s become viable and increasingly technologically possible for \u2018authorpreneurs\u2019 to sell their own content but quality is an important issue. There\u2019s a difference between vanity publishing and high-quality, well-edited writing being electronically available.\r\n***\r\nHazel\u2019s extensive online resources for writers can be found\u00a0here.\r\n\r\nHazel\u2019s book Authorpreneurship: The Business of Creativity can be purchased at her online bookstore, here.\r\n\r\nShe has also collaborated with her son Trevelyan on Trail Magic a book of adventure travel memoirs, which you can read more about here.\r\n\r\nWriter's Edit would like to thank Hazel for taking the time to share her experiences with us.