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Ailsa Wild

Author, Inspirational Speaker

Ailsa Wild is an author of more than twenty books and a performer with a history in circus and collaboration. She writes for audiences of all ages, both fiction and non-fiction. In her day job, Ailsa facilitates story-making with children and adults in all kinds of circumstances. Her appearances are always interactive, responsive to her audience, and she aims to give people a greater sense of their own creativity and their capacity for craft. She’s written picture books, mystery adventures, science stories, self-help, and a biography/memoir about the nursing in the pandemic.

Ailsa’s first graphic novel The Invisible War (with Scale Free Network) was selected as a ‘Notable of 2017’ by the Children’s Book Council of Australia and won Most Outstanding Educational Resource at the 2017 Australian Educational Publishing Awards. The Invisible War was just released in the USA by Lerner Books, with Korean and Arabic versions scheduled for release in 2020.

Ailsa’s work has appeared in Meanjin, The Monthly, ABC online, #METOO: stories from the Australian movement (Picador) and on stages across Australia. She has spoken at many literary festivals including Melbourne Writers Festival, World Science Festival Brisbane, Ipswich StoryArts Festival. She has also guest lectured at several universities and presented at more than 200 schools around Australia. She has a Masters of Creative Media (creative writing) from RMIT and has collaborated with scientists, musicians, children, nurses and circus performers.

Where were you born?

I was born in Sheffield in England, in the attic of a tiny terrace just around the corner from where they filmed the Full Monty.

What other jobs have you had?

I’ve worked in lots of different theatre jobs. I’ve been a director, performer, circus coach, stage manager, and theatre tour manager. Before that I was a sandwich maker, ice-cream scooper and a market-stall seller of Mexican silver. My very first job was goat milker, but only when my mum was away.

What themes are recurring in your work?

I always write with some combination of:

  • Kids being in charge of their own adventures
  • Collaboration overcoming adversity
  • The wonder of science – especially in the realm of microbes
  • The deep value of care work

What have been the highlights of your career?

My favourite thing is when I get a message from a child who tells me how much they love my books. Or when parents write to tell me their child was a reluctant reader but now they read my books past their bedtime. It’s happened more than once, and I feel a sense of deep satisfaction that I’ve done my job.

Where have your works been published?

My books are published with Scribe, Hardie Grant, CSIRO Publishing and an excellent micro-publisher called Scale Free Network.

What are you passionate about?

I’m passionate about listening well to people whose voices are less heard. I’m also passionate about stories and characters, creating, relationships, justice and play.

Haven’t I seen you before?

Maybe, when I was a dog in a circus show? Or that time I performed as a roving poet in a giant 19th Century hoop skirt? Or perhaps it was when I cracked whips at the combined Meanjin, Overland, Southerly launch party…


For teaching notes on Squishy Taylor, please see below!

Squishy Taylor and a Question of Trust

Squishy Taylor and the Bonus Sisters



Year 6 students responded with great enthusiasm to Ailsa Wild’s visit. Ailsa adapted our author visit to an online format and it couldn’t have been better. She got the students moving and they jointly began constructing a story which many have written their own endings, or written a new story inspired by her ideas. Ailsa was a fabulous and inspiring guest speaker.

—J Ritchie, Penleigh and Essendon Grammar School, August 2021

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