So you want to know a bit about me? Well, I was born in Sydney, Australia and grew up in leafy Avalon on Sydney’s beautiful Northern Beaches. My childhood was filled with fun days at the beach, picnics and ice creams with my older brother, David and younger sister, Annette.
As a child I enjoyed outdoor games like chasing and hide and seek with the neighborhood kids. I loved bushwalking, especially trekking up onto Bangalley Head, the bushland reserve behind my home, dancing, roller-skating, backyard cricket and bike riding.
There weren’t a lot of great picture books in Australia in the 1970s but I do remember enjoying Richard Scary and Dr Seuss books. In fact I still have the one given to me on my 6th birthday called ‘The Shape of Me and Other Stuff’. Thank goodness things have changed and great picture books are everywhere.
When I was 10 my family moved to Wagga Wagga in country NSW. It was a big shock for a beach girl. But luckily for me, Wagga did have its own beach on the banks of the Murrumbidgee River. Of course I fell in love with Wagga with its hot, hot summers and cool, crisp winters and was sad when it was time to leave.
I was the new girl again at Barrenjoey High School, a lovely school nestled behind the sand dunes at the northern end of Avalon Beach. The school had a real beach culture. I remember being pulled out of class one morning to watch the dolphins play in the surf. I had a good giggle as the teachers decided to write it up in their programs as a poetry lesson.
My favourite subjects at high school were Biology, English, History and Art. I really loved Art and took it through to the HSC. I now wish I'd developed my artistic skills further. To write and illustrate your own work, like Stephen Michael King or Tohby Riddle, must be amazing.
But I think my passion did lie with writing after all. I remember a Year 10 Art assignment where I decided to illustrate my own book. I spent ages writing the text and binding the book by hand only to include a handful of hastily sketched drawings. And my teacher’s comment- ‘Great story, pity about the illustrations!’
After high school it was off to The University of Sydney where I completed a Bachelor of Education. It was during my studies in Primary Education that I really got interested in children’s literature. My lecturers at Sydney University, Robyn Ewing, Geoff Williams and Len Unsworth insisted I source only the best literature for my students, which I did and I’m happy to say that reading all those good books taught me a great deal about the language and structure of children’s literature.
For the next 16 years I taught in the NSW Public School system and loved it. Although I was not writing for publication I was busy writing plays and skits for school performances as well as creating story through dance choreography.
During my teaching years I married and lived with my husband in Sydney’s inner-west and northwest. We shared many interests, one of which was ballroom dancing. A highlight of our dancing career was performing at the closing ceremony of the 2000 Sydney Olympics. Wow, what a rush!
We now have two beautiful children and live on Sydney’s Northern Beaches.
It wasn’t until I took leave from teaching to raise my children that I began to write children’s books. I completed my first ever writing course with the talented Frances Watts at the NSW Writers’ Centre. I loved it so much that I went on to complete many more writing courses there.
Jane Covernton at Working Title Press picked my first picture book, ‘Scary Night’ out of the slush pile in 2012. I was delighted and danced the conga with my children who thought I’d gone mad!
Today I spend my days writing, reading and mucking about with my family and my two very naughty Jack Russell terriers Cosworth and Porsche.
Copyright © 2018 Lesley Gibbes-Australian Children's Author - All Rights Reserved.
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