'The best books, reviewed with insight and charm, but without compromise.'
- author Jackie French

Tuesday 24 November 2020

Guest Post: Sandra Bennett on Holidays Sparking Ideas!

I always wanted to write an adventure series to encourage readers to fall in love with books just as much as reading books like The Famous Five had done for me. I have been an avid reader since my early childhood, literacy is my passion. When I grew up, I naturally leaned towards teaching and soon found my love of books lead me to write stories for the kids in my class and my own three growing boys.

Many years ago, we were on a family holiday in Bali. After the exhausting but exciting adventure of each day, we would snuggle into bed with our boys to read another chapter of Indian in the Cupboard by Lynne Reid Banks. It was a fabulous adventure story, one that made my boys ask ‘one more chapter’ before they would fall asleep. I was so intrigued, I had to read ahead. This bonding experience was so wonderful for our family that I wanted to write a story that would have families sharing it just like we had shared Indian in the Cupboard. 

Bali inspired me; the smells, the culture, the lush green rice fields and everywhere we explored. I searched Kuta and Ubud to find an adventure story written for kids set in Bali but came up empty handed. I decided to write a pirate treasure hunt around the exotic island that took kids on a journey of thrilling adventure from Kuta, to Tanah Lot Temple, Ubud and up into the volcanic mountains. I became an Indonesian LOTE/ESL teacher shortly after that holiday. Secrets Hidden Below the Adamson Adventures 1 evolved from there. In those early years it had a different title and was intended to be a stand-alone story. It wasn’t until I found a publisher nearly 20 years after that first draft, that I was asked to make it a series.
This was an exciting prospect for me, I had already begun a story inspired by our annual camping holiday down on the NSW South coast. It was set among the remains of an old ruined lighthouse that inspired ghost stories around our campfire at night. Kids love a good spooky story, and one set around camping at the beach, made it even more relatable than the story set in Bali. All I had to do was finish writing it. I changed the characters to become the same as the three siblings in Secrets Hidden Below, titled it A Lighthouse in Time and the Adamson Adventures was born. My publisher then asked me for a blurb for book 3 to put at the back of A Lighthouse in Time. That too, was inspired by a holiday.

I had always wanted to visit Winton in Queensland. My eldest son grew up with a passion for rocks and fossils, naturally some of that has worn off on me. After all, what’s not to be intrigued about? Australian dinosaurs and their fossils are fascinating and all kids love dinosaurs at some time in their childhood. Four years ago, we finished a two-year working stint in Darwin and planned to drive the car we bought up there home to Canberra. The obvious route for me was via Mount Isa, down the centre of Queensland through Winton and Longreach. It was a fabulous holiday in the outback.

From the minute I visited the Australian Age of Dinosaurs Museum, I knew a story had to be set in the area. I immersed myself in research while I was there and later, on my return home. While there we toured the information centre, the working research lab and the surrounding escarpment. Learning about Banjo and Matilda, the two fossilised dinosaurs that had been discovered together sparked a thread of an idea that would eventually become Fossil Frenzy; the Adamson Adventures 3.

Sandra Bennett's desire to write continued to grow throughout her teaching career until one day when she decided it was time to leave the classroom and focus on writing full-time. Through her writing, Sandra hopes to help parents and teachers improve literacy in our children. Sandra is devoted to writing stories that engage and entice readers with excitement, adventure, a bit of mystery and a whole lot of fun.

Sandra’s chapter book Secrets Hidden Below was long listed in the Sisters in Crime 2019 Children’s Category, Davitt Awards and Shortlisted for the Speech Pathology Book of the Year Awards 2019. Fossil Frenzy is the third book in her
Adamson Adventures series, following A Lighthouse in Time and Secrets Hidden Below.

Website: https://sandrabennettauthor.com/

Facebook: https://www.facebook.com/GingerbreadAliens

Twitter: https://twitter.com/SandraBennettAu