John Danalis has been writing and illustrating for children and young adults for ten years. His works include picture books, chapter books and non-fiction.
In 2013, John will tour Melbourne schools in Book Week (19-23 August).
My family are all from Queensland, however I was born in Shepparton, Victoria, where my father worked for a short time as a country vet. My family moved back to Brisbane when I was two – thankfully, as I’m not fond of frosty mornings – and I’ve spent most of my life in this beautiful sub-tropical city.
I worked as an advertising art director when I left school, but I traveled lots too. One of the most enjoyable jobs I ever had was as a removal man in London. Every day I climbed aboard a big red truck and drove to a different part of the UK. I got to snoop around in people’s cupboards, drawers and lives – great training for a writer!
One of the main themes in both my fiction and non-fiction has been overcoming fears and obstacles. My more recent work has been fired with a sense of social justice; attempting to right past misdeeds, questioning the way we do things, and asking, “aren’t we as individuals and a society capable of more?”.
It will be hard to top the evening at the State Library of Victoria when I presented the Wamba Wamba with a copy of Riding The Black Cockatoo and they presented my family with a ngatuk, a ceremonial possum skin cloak depicting Mary’s journey back to country.
Within weeks of publication, Riding the Black Cockatoo, was chosen as a GCSE text for senior students in the UK. My chapter books and picture books have also been published in Taiwan, China and Korea.
The current world economic and political systems are primarily concerned with the ‘bottom line’ and compliance, values that often run counter to a meaningful human existence and a healthy environment. I think this is where our adventure lies, in challenging the lumbering status quo and individually and collectively dreaming an alternative future where all people have the opportunity to share their unique gifts within their communities and the wider world.