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Open Right

Melissa Keil

Author, Inspirational Speaker

Melissa Keil’s young adult novels have been published around the world, and have been described as ‘humorous, heartfelt and angst-y romance with the potential to break the gender barrier’. When she is not writing, she can be found immersed in other people’s manuscripts in her day job as a children’s book editor.

Where were you born?

I was born in Melbourne and raised in the north-west.

What other jobs have you had?

Too many to count! At various times I have worked as a Mexican-restaurant waitress, community theatre dogs body, high school teacher, tour guide in the Middle East, and IT help-desk person. I have no idea how I stumbled into that last job – apart from ‘have you tried turning it off and on again’, my IT trouble-shooting skills were pretty limited. Now I work as a children’s commissioning editor.

What themes are recurring in your work?

I have a soft spot for creative, weird outsiders – for the people who don’t always have the easiest time in high school. I love exploring those characters who you just know are going to become phenomenal, interesting, happy, weird adults, but who are struggling through the phase in their lives where their awesomeness is not always appreciated.

What have been the highlights of your career?

Being selected out of 250 manuscripts to have my first novel published in the inaugural Ampersand Prize was a highlight! Since then there have been so many highlights – appearing at writers festivals and meeting young readers and writers never ceases to be amazing. Doing a comedy event on stage at the Emerging Writers Festival, and actually getting a laugh was a huge highlight, as I think it’s probably been the most nerve-inducing public speaking gig I’ve ever had!

Where have your works been published?

My novels have been published all around the world – in the US and Canada, the UK, Spain, Germany, France, the Czech Republic, Slovakia and Turkey to name a few.

What are you passionate about?

I’m passionate about giving all kids the widest, fullest opportunities to experience the world and to exercise their imaginations outside of the boxes they’re often placed in; so gender representation, as well as issues of class in kids and YA books are big areas of interest for me.

Testimonials

Melissa was fantastic, really engaging and easy for the students to relate to. We had a variety of teachers supervising the event and they were very complimentary about her presentation and manner.

The writing workshop went well, the kids were really keen. Melissa was very knowledgeable, encouraging and keen to share resources.

I would highly recommend her to any other school.

—V. Brahmin, Kew High School, August 2017

The presentation from Melissa went very well – it was well paced and well structured. The kids enjoyed that it was centred around Life in Outer Space as that is the book they have been reading all term. There were some interesting bits of information and behind the scenes things they all found interesting. I think all our kids got to take something away from it for the future.

—L. Spain, Brookside College, June 2017

The audience responded very well to Melissa’s talk, and the students were keen to ask plenty of questions.  Melissa inspired them to read and write. She stayed back for photos and autographs.  The students were keen to read her books.

—S. Sheppard, Pascoe Vale Girls' College, June 2017

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