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Elaine Forrestal is an award-winning children’s author who served a long apprenticeship on the way to publication. First there were the stories her family told; the aunt who held them in thrall with bedtime re-tellings of stories she had heard or read; the family commitment to art in all its expressions; Elaine’s own developing appetite for books and more books.
By the time Elaine had completed Year 10 however, she could see no sense in staying at school. She didn't want to be either a teacher or a nurse so she thought she may as well get a job in Perth. Within a few years Elaine was married with two young children, and living in the country again. But it was the experience of watching her children grow and develop that sparked what has since become a lifelong passion. She knew she wanted to be involved somehow in children’s learning and development, to nurture creativity and the growth of imagination. A few years later she moved to Perth, completed a degree in Early Childhood Education, and embarked on a very satisfying career as a pre-school teacher.
Elaine says it’s her teaching experience that’s given her a sure feel for audience reaction. She became adept at honing the story to the precise needs of that group at that moment. She and they delighted in the stories she told, but she never thought of writing them down until a colleague suggested it. While she was putting her stories on paper, a friend sent them to a publisher and, to Elaine’s amazement, her stories were accepted straight away – but the publisher wanted more. She wrote as hard and as fast as she could. Four were published in Jean Chapman’s Stories to Share (1983). The US magazine, Highlights for Children, picked up others, and suddenly Elaine was a published writer.
After teaching and writing for nine years, Elaine is now a full-time writer. Most of her books have won or been shortlisted for local, national or international awards and all retain her trademark sure sense of dialogue. They are peopled with realistic child characters in familiar settings. There are many recurring themes: close-knit groups of friends; environmental concerns; multicultural and multi-age casts of characters (her depiction of seniors is a particular strength), family and peer relationships, music and exploration of issues that are meaningful to children now. Elaine listens to all the children at her workshops. She notes their concerns, their speech patterns, their attitudes, the kinds of things they want to know about.
Since the Eden Glassie Mystery series expanded beyond the original trilogy concept and became a quartet, Elaine Forrestal has also expanded her horizons in other ways. In 2007, the Curriculum Corporation persuaded her to tackle her first non-fiction book, Write With Purpose: an approach to creative writing. In May 2008 her first picture book, Miss Llewellyn-Jones, was added to the two anthologies, A Glassful of Giggles and Rainbow Jackets, at the Junior end of her range of titles. Miss Llewllyn-Jones Goes to Town followed in 2010. Black Jack Anderson, her first adult/Young Adult novel was also published in 2008.
In 2012, Elaine Forrestal was awarded the CBCA (WA Branch) Muriel Barwell Award for distinguished services to children's literature in Western Australia.
For aspiring authors, Elaine is one of a group of established authors/illustrators who can be booked via The Literature Centre to 'share their craft' during a one hour writing or illustration consultation for adults. She is also kept busy with school bookings via the Centre. Please contact us for further information.