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Leanne Hall


Leanne Hall is an award-winning author of young adult and children’s fiction. Her most recent YA novel, The Gaps, won the Prime Minister’s Literary Award for young adult literature. Leanne is an experienced teacher and writing mentor who is passionate about youth literature, Chinese Australian history and helping people develop their unique writing voice. She is currently a PhD candidate at RMIT – her research explores the use of Australian archives to write fiction about Chinese Australians.

Where were you born?

I grew up in the eastern suburbs of Melbourne/Naarm, near a cemetery and a creek, both great places to play. My childhood was full of sport and books. I always had an over-the-top sense of imagination as a kid, and spent hours writing and illustrating my own stories.

What other jobs have you had?

Sometimes it feels as if I’ve had every job under the sun, but my longest-running job was at an independent bookshop. It allowed me to spread my passion for Australian and youth literature (and exercise my compulsion to alphabeticise shelves). Even now, I can’t help recommending books to strangers whenever I’m in a bookshop! There’s something beautiful in finding the right story at the right time in your life.

What themes are recurring in your work?

My books explore the power of self-expression, understanding other people’s perspectives, and how to make authentic (and difficult) choices in life. Genre-wise, I love exploring the fuzzy border between reality and fantasy, and artists seem to always pop up somewhere in my stories. I think that’s because I’m hugely inspired by painters and photographers.

My characters are often grappling with figuring out who they are and where they belong, I think because I also struggled with those questions myself when I was young, coming from a mixed Chinese Anglo Australian background.

What have been the highlights of your career?

The biggest highlight of my career was winning the Prime Minister’s Literary Award for The Gaps. I never imagined it would be possible to achieve that kind of recognition for my work. It was especially meaningful because The Gaps drew so much on my own teenage years and took me a very long time to write.

Where have your works been published?

My first book, This Is Shyness, was published after winning The Text Prize for Young Adult and Children’s Writing. All my subsequent books have also been published by Text. My first writing success though, was second place in my local library short story competition when I was still in primary school. I can still remember how exciting that was! Another really important milestone for me was being selected for the anthology Growing Up Asian in Australia – what a wonderful book to be part of.

What are you passionate about?

I truly believe that creativity in general can make people better, and happier, human beings. So I’m very passionate about talking honestly about my own life story and the ups and downs of my writing career. Reading and writing have always been a way for me to figure things out, so I love encouraging others to get expressive and get creating!

Haven’t I seen you before?

You usually WON’T see me, as I’m often hiding on my couch with a book, but I am prone to very occasional bouts of exhibitionism, like the time I threw on a leotard, a wig, and performed a YA-themed musical to author David Levithan.

Anything else you’d like to share with us?

Oh, we’re all sharing too much these days, aren’t we? What happened to the mystery?


Just wanted to let you know that Leanne Hall was fabulous. During both her presentation to our year 7’s and the workshops she had our students spellbound. We had quite a few comments from students that they liked her because she was like them, they could relate to her easily. A very big thanks to Leanne.

—K. Simpson, Director of Library Information Services, Vermont Secondary College, August 2012

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