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Emily Gale


Emily Gale has seen the book industry from different sides over more than twenty years. She’s worked in publishing houses, a bookshop, two school libraries and a literary agency, has chaired festival panels and is a vocal advocate for children’s literature wherever she goes. Meanwhile she has written novels for several age groups, with a particular interest in middle-grade and Young Adult fiction.

Where were you born?

London, in the snow. Well, not actually in it, though that would be a good story.

What other jobs have you had?

My first job was in a toy museum in central London when I was fifteen. I had to drive a miniature train with twenty children on the back – it went over a pond and through a tunnel and I was always nervous that someone would fall off.

After university I worked as a children’s book editor for Penguin and Egmont, among other places. When I had children I went freelance and produced pre-school writing for Ladybird – sometimes this involved watching an awful lot of Peppa Pig.

I have been freelance writing and editing – mainly middle-grade and YA fiction – on and off for years but I was also the Children’s Buyer at Readings bookshop for a few years, where I championed the Readings Children’s Book Prize and helped to spotlight the #LoveOzYA movement. More recently I spent a year as Writer-in-Residence in a school, working with Years 6-8.

What themes are recurring in your work?

Because I live on the other side of the world to my parents, siblings and best friends, I write a lot about agency, independence and displacement and there is always a joyful reunion in my novels, or a resolution of long-held resentments or misunderstandings. I like to bring people back together in my work. I write about feeling alone or out of place and finding the strength to survive those times, make new connections and go boldly in the direction of one’s strongest desires.

What have been the highlights of your career?

I wanted to write Young Adult fiction after reading Jaclyn Moriarty’s Feeling Sorry For Celia when I was in my mid-20s, so it was certainly a highlight when Jaclyn blurbed my debut YA novel several years later.

Having moved to Australia from elsewhere, I feel so fortunate to be published here and to have made many wonderful connections with writers, booksellers, readers, librarians and other young literature advocates.

Seeing my work published in different languages is always a thrill, and being shortlisted for awards has been exciting, but there are two things that really stand out about writing for young people: first, the correspondence they send is incredible and they are wonderful to meet in person, and second, it is superb when they dress up as a character from one of your books.

Where have your works been published?

My first novel came out in the UK, and four books have come out in the USA. My junior series, Eliza Boom, has been translated into several languages, including Gaelic, Chinese, German, Spanish and Croatian. But at the moment my work is largely focused on an Australian market.

What are you passionate about?

I’m a bibliophile – to see my beloved bookcase, check my Instagram emilygalebooksetc. I love making a noise about how important it is to pay attention to youth literature, and I’ve dedicated the last fourteen years to the Australian market. I’m a vocal advocate for school libraries. I believe funding of the arts is fundamental to a healthy society. I love teaching young people to write.

Haven’t I seen you before?

Hmm, depends how old you are – when the lighting is very good I look a tiny bit like Samantha from Bewitched.

Anything else you’d like to share with us?

I love researching my novels and sometimes that has a lasting effect on how I spend my time – for example Elsewhere Girls turned me back into a regular swimmer, and writing Aussie Stem Stars: Gisela Kaplan has turned me into a keen bird-watcher. Unfortunately, researching The Other Side of Summer only got me to a few dodgy chords on the guitar, but next up I’m researching horses and I haven’t been on one since I was fourteen so watch this space.

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