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Dianne Bates

answers the Usual Questions

Australian author Dianne Bates

Dianne Bates

Di Bates is an Australian Children's Author whose working history includes teacher; schools performer (for 20 years); youth worker in a home for delinquent girls; factory hand; bookseller; university lecturer; voluntary welfare counsellor; advertising sales representative; journalist; provincial weekly newspaper editor; foster mum; cable TV and community radio presenter; dishwasher; nurses assistant; coordinator of a children's arts & crafts centre; manuscript assessor; and editor of national and state children's magazines.

She is a founding member of Sydney Network of Children's Authors & Illustrators; founding President Illawarra-South Coast Children's Book Council of Australia. She currently compiles Buzz Words (The Latest Buzz on Children's Books) for people in the Australian children's book industry.

Di has published over 100 books for young people, the 100th being a YA novel, Crossing the Line (Ford Street).

Has your interaction with fans, for example, at conventions, affected your work?

As a former primary school teacher working with children with reading difficulties, my writing was for them, so many of my fictional books are humorous and skinny . Also, a number of my books are about food (for example, The Boy Who Loved Chocolate and Worst Cook in the World.)

Is there any particular incident (a letter, a meeting, a comment that stands out?

A fifth grade boy told me he hated reading which challenged me. He enjoyed looking at trucking magazines so I told him of my adventures as a child going on interstate trips with my truck-driving father. I promised him I would write a book (it proved eventually to be a series) about a truck driving granny, written from the point of view of her grandson. Each of the ten chapters of Grandma Cadbury s Trucking Tales is in effect a short story but the book is filled with funny events and a host of likeable characters. The four books in the Grandma Cadbury series were in print for about 18 years, one of them winning the WAYRBA, a state-wide children's choice reading award.

Do you have a favourite author or book (or writer or film or series) that has influenced you or that you return to?

Robin Klein, whose books were immensely popular in Australia in the 1980s and 1990s, influenced me greatly in my early career, but I read widely in children's literature to keep abreast of trends in children's books, though I have never been caught up in the world of fantasy books. My preference is always for humour and/or social realism.

book cover, Crossing the Line by Dianne Bates

Who is the person you would most like to be trapped in a lift with? or a spaceship?

Doubtless it would be my husband, the children's author, Bill Condon. We have been together for 25 years and I d still go to the ends of the world with him. (But I would also need a paramedic if he was trapped in a lift as he d go bonkers with anxiety!)

Who is the person you would most DISlike to be trapped in a lift with? Or a spaceship?

Someone who was drunk, chain-smoking and had verbal diarrhea.

What would you pack for space? (Is there a food, beverage, book, teddy bear, etc that you couldn't do without?)

I'd take an oxygen mask, a camera, a very thick, never-ending book and an endless supply of gelato ice-cream (preferably lemon, chocolate and coffee flavoured). I d also take an astronaut or two who could safely get me back to earth.

What is the most important thing you would like to get/achieve from your work?

Publication of all of my manuscripts! I would also love to have an editor who believed in and mentored me, and fan letters arriving daily by the sackful. Finally, a secretary to handle the mail and to whom I could dictate my books as I sat by a classy resort swimming pool in the sun and going for an occasional dip.

What is the special satisfaction of your work?

Many children, but mostly their mums, have told me that my books got their interest ignited in reading. I also cherish the fact that I can make enough income from writing not to have to work for a boss: the lifestyle to work my own hours and to not be dictated to by clocks is by far the best outcome of being a writer!

submitted by Dianne Bates

January, 2009

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Just the facts:
Dianne Bates, aka Di Bates; Daisy Bates
Born: Sydney 20-March-1948
Resides: Wollongong, NSW
2008 winner of the Lady Cutler Award for distinguished services to children's literature

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