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Open Right

Mark Smith


In his YA fiction, Mark combines his love of the outdoors (surfing, mountain biking, travelling) with his experience as a teacher in a residential campus on Victoria’s west coast. He believes strongly in the resilience and adaptability of young people when they’re confronted with new and challenging situations.

Mark’s second novel, Wilder Country, is the winner of the 2018 Indie Book Award for Young Adults.

Where were you born?

I was born at the Mercy Hospital in Melbourne where, due to him fathering nine kids, they eventually gave Dad his own car park.

What other jobs have you had?

Outside of teaching I’ve done a variety of  things to earn a living: surf instructor, canoe instructor, Executive Officer in not-for-profit sector, paper boy, chicken sexer (in descending order of merit).

What themes are recurring in your work?

There are a few themes that recur in my writing, often when I don’t even mean them to: environmental issues, social justice (particularly indigenous and refugees), the resilience and loyalty of young people, relationships and love.

What have been the highlights of your career?

Signing a three book deal with Text Publishing after the manuscript for The Road To Winter was picked out of the slush pile and passed around the office. The resultant phone call changed my life.

Where have your works been published?

Both The Road To Winter and Wilder Country have been published in Australia, New Zealand, the US and UK.

What are you passionate about?

I’m passionate about the environment, refugee issues, protecting our oceans, surfing, writing – and pretty much life in general.

Haven’t I seen you before?

When my book was launched my mug shot appeared everywhere – wish I’d had a better photo taken.

Anything else you’d like to share with us?

I have a habit of breaking bones (my own), especially fingers, ribs and toes. But also my neck, twice in the one year. No, really.


The Road to Winter has been shortlisted for the following prizes:

  • Indie Book Award for Young Adult, 2017
  • West Australian Young Readers’ Book Award, 2017
  • Western Australian Science Fiction Foundation’s Aurealis Award, 2016
  • Readings Young Adult Book Prize, 2017
  • Queensland Literary Award: Griffith University Young Adult Book Award, 2017


Mark had students coming to speak to him after every session and his books literally flew off the shelves after his visit. I have had to buy more copies twice now and we still have a waiting list. I have also had lots of positive reviews from staff, and even parents telling me how much their child enjoyed Mark’s visit.

—-Michelle Snooks, Frankston High School, August 2018

It was wonderful it was to have Mark Smith here at St Aidan’s during Book Week. All his sessions with Year 9 & 10 students,including the writing workshop, were fabulous and the girls got a lot out of the day.

—-Kristen Lewis, St Aidan's Anglican Girls School, August 2018

We had a very successful visit from Mark Smith last Thursday and the feedback from teachers and students was very positive. The student engagement for the workshops was outstanding with all students willing to undertake the writing activities that Mark inspired. In the end he had to teach the whole class, not just students who chose to be there, and it was due to his skills as a presenter and teacher that students enjoyed the opportunity to learn from his vast experience.

—L. Richardson, St. Augustine's College, August 2018

Mark Smith gave a wonderful presentation to our Year 8 students. They were enthralled by his interactive presentation and his question and answer session was very successful. I would highly recommend Mark Smith visiting any school.

—J. Pagliaro, St. Kevin's College, May 2018

Mark Smith was excellent arguably the best author we have had. Mark had the students captivated for the session and they have been hunting around for his book since his visit.
I would be happy to have Mark back again and can highly recommend him.

—D. Easton, Liebler Yavneh College, August 2017

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