Lucy F interviews Judith Rossell.
“Follow your dreams, believe in yourself, and don’t give up,” Rachel Corrie said. Judith Rossell did just that. As a young girl Judith always dreamed to see her name printed on book covers, and never had a shadow of doubt about achieving it. Judith is super talented, writing and illustrating books. As a gifted artist, she has illustrated 80 books. Showing off her writing talent, she has also written eleven books, picture storybooks plus novels. To make things even better, she’s local to anyone living Melbourne, as she lives there too! Want to know a little bit more about her? Well the interview has only just begun…
Lucy: As well as illustrating and writing books, which book would be your favourite or one that you are most proud of?
Judith: My favourite one that I’ve done myself is Withering-by-Sea. This one took the most work, and I’m very proud of it. My favourite book to read, when I was younger, was Charlie and the Chocolate Factory by Roald Dahl. I thought it was brilliant, I must have read it ten times.
Lucy: Do you have a special place where you write?
Judith: I usually write at home. I have a spare room at the front of my house I use as a studio for illustration, and there’s a desk, which is right next to the window, so I can sit there and write, and look out and see people walking along the street.
Lucy: When did you discover you had a writing talent?
Judith: I always enjoyed creative writing at school, I liked making up funny stories. Some of my teachers were encouraging. But I think you get good at something not so much by having talent, but by working hard and practicing.
Lucy: How does it feel to see your own book, selling on a stand, in a bookstore?
Judith: It always makes me very happy to see my book in a bookshop. And because of my surname, my books go on the shelf between Emily Rodda and JK Rowling, so I’m in a very good company!
Lucy: What achievements/awards or competitions have you won?
Judith: Withering-by-Sea has won a bunch of awards, which is great (and still feels a bit surprising to me!). It was an Honour Book in CBCA Book of the Year awards this year and it was the ABIA Book of the Year for older children. It won the Indies Book Award for Children and YA, and the Davitt Award for Children’s books. And it was shortlisted for the Aurealis Awards.
Lucy: If you could write a book right now, what would it be about?
Judith: I’m busy writing a book at the moment, the sequel to Withering-by-Sea. We are hoping it will be out next year. In the story, my heroine Stella is sent away by her aunts to join her cousins and their governess in a big house in an overgrown garden. And there’s something lurky in the lake.
Lucy: Where do you get you ideas for your books?
Judith: I get my ideas all over the place. For Withering-by-Sea, I read books set in Victorian times for research, and I got lots of ideas that way. Right now, I’m visiting the Victorian Mansions around Melbourne, like Ripponlea and Como, and trying to imagine what it would have been like to live there. It’s helpful to think about the characters. What do they like and dislike? What do they really want? This can be a good way of getting ideas.
Lucy: How do you feel when a publisher likes your book?
Judith: It’s always nice! But of course, sometimes they don’t like it, and then I have to re-write the story, or perhaps send it to a different publisher. It’s important to not get discouraged! Everyone gets rejections sometimes.
Lucy: What advice would you give for people to follow their dreams, like you did?
Judith: Go for it! But I think it’s important to practice hard, and study, and get better at whatever it is you love to do. If you want to be a writer, you need to be writing! Lot’s and lots of writing. Also, read a lot. Good luck to everyone who is following their own dreams.
These wise words are important to anyone who wants to follow in Judith’s footsteps. You don’t have to be a author – you can do anything you put your mind to! Astronaut, television reporter, zookeeper, anything! It’s true, you can achieve your goals, and Judith did just that! Judith is a local writer and has a gripping book called Withering-by-Sea, it’s about a girl named Stella, who’s living a dull life with her strict aunts. But before Stella knows it, she’s caught up in her own adventure, meeting all sorts of interesting people on the way. I hope this interview has given you more hope for your book and thanks to Judith for taking the time to read through my emails.