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Open Right

Mark Smith

Author, Online - Virtual Visits

Mark is an award-winning author who offers a unique insight into reading and writing – he came to both late, but has now published three books, including The Road to Winter, which is taught in schools around Australia.

The second book in the Winter Trilogy, Wilder Country, won the 2018 Australian Indie Book of The Year for YA. Mark combines his love of surfing, riding and travelling with adventure stories teens love. An experienced educator, his storytelling, humour and insights will keep students enthralled online or in-person.

Mark is also an award-winning short story writer who offers writing workshops for middle-school and senior students wanting to develop their craft. 

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?

The Road To WinterWilder Country and Land Of Fences have all 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

Testimonials

Mark was terrific and very engaging. He has a relaxed presence online and really knew how to pitch his presentation to the age group. The kids stayed online for the duration and asked some terrific questions which Mark was responsive to.
Mark also undertook a tech run through with me the day before so that both he and I could  be confident that the technology would work.
Having the option for online author presentations during this time of remote learning has been a wonderful way to break up the routine for both our students and staff.
—L. Perry, Victorian College of the Arts Secondary School, August 2020
Mark did an outstanding job with presenting online to our Year 8 students. Even though it was not possible for our students to be interactive, Mark still delivered a highly engaging presentation which captivated our students’ attention and gave them many useful tips and hints for their own writing. He answered all of our previously sent questions and many students contacted him via social media afterwards. I would highly recommend other schools engage Mark for an online presentation during this remote learning period.
J. Pagliaro, St Kevin’s College, July 2020

Students, St Kevin’s College, July 2020:

“The Mark Smith talk was intriguing and I personally found it to be a captivating presentation. Mark covered some interesting topics whilst not losing the attention of the viewer.”
“I really enjoyed the Mark Smith talk and I picked up so many tips! It was the best author visit so far.”

Staff, St Kevin’s College, July 2020: “Mark’s presentation has led me to a change in the way I am planning creative writing for my Year 7 and 8 students.” 10/10!

“Mark’s talk was fantastic and relatable advice to assist our boys with their own creative writing. He had a few lines that I’ve written down to start using in my own teaching. Mark has a wonderful presentation style. Very warm and engaging.”
—St Kevin's College, July 2020

Each of the teachers were very happy with the workshops that Mark delivered … Students who attended the workshops on the day also offered plenty of positive feedback as they found the advice and writing tips quite useful.

Indeed, some members of my creative writing class have taken on board the message that ‘writing is re-writing’ to such an extent that they have volunteered to bring their complete draft due dates forward so that they can spend some more time editing and crafting. Moreover, one student went away over the weekend and wrote a 4,000+ word ‘fan fiction’ response to ‘Wilder Country’!

We look forward to having Mark back for another visit at Kardinia at some point in the future.

—J. Grout, Kardinia International College, November 2019

As part of our annual ‘I ❤ Literacy’ event at Mercy Regional College, author Mark Smith was welcomed to our junior campus. Mark spoke about his writing journey and conducted workshops with all Year 8 students. Students enjoyed hearing about Mark’s life story and were engaged from the beginning of the session, with excellent questions and comments throughout the day. Staff and students alike were appreciative of the writing hints and tips that Mark shared and will be eager to utilise them.
Thank you Mark for helping us to promote and highlight literacy at Mercy Regional College.

—M. O'Loughlin, Mercy Regional College, August 2019

We were thrilled with Mark’s visit last Wednesday. It was a joy for our teachers to open the year with The Road to Winter and Wilder Country. Mark clearly has his finger ‘on the pulse’ of young adults – their anxieties about the world, what they long for in relationships with each other and the natural environment, and so on – and his interaction with his audience and with the kids one-on-one was really genuine.

One of the students wrote this in response to his visit –
What’s better than a great read? Meeting the author of the great books! What a privilege for the GGS students to meet Mark Smith and spend time with him. An awesome opportunity for students to reflect on their thoughts and ideas, ask about the authors intention and pitch future book ideas.

—W. van Asperen, Geelong Grammar School, April 2019

Mark has now visited St Kevin’s College three times in the last 12 months. He is highly professional, immediately engages with his audience, ensures that his presentation is interactive and has a wonderful story to tell.

His books have been resoundingly popular at St Kevin’s College and were two of the most popular titles for Year 8 students in 2018. Indeed,”The Road to Winter” was borrowed over 200 times last year.

We prepared our students for this year’s visit by having all of our Year 8 students read the first few pages from “The Road to Winter”. In the last month, his first book was borrowed 43 times and his sequel 14 times, with much more demand for “Wilder Country” to soon follow.

I highly recommend Mark Smith to any school who wants to promote reading for their students.

—J. Pagliaro, St. Kevin's College, March 2019

I just wanted to say how wonderful it was for Mark to come to our school, Christian College. Students were really engaged in his presentation. He gave them lots of time at the end to sign books and take photos which was very much appreciated.

Mark’s background in teaching English and as an educator meant that he was able to connect with students on their level. His stories were both humorous and uplifting and many students could relate to how he felt about reading at their age. We appreciated his honesty about writing as a career and the way digital media has influenced the industry. This was something that we continued to discuss with students in our classes.

Students wrote brilliant creative writing pieces this term and we think the quality of the work came from meeting Mark and from him sharing some of his writing tips. Thank you for organising the visit.

—A. Schleutker, Christian College, November 2018

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 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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