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Dianne Wolfer (1961–) Biography - Personal, Career, Member, Honors Awards, Writings, Work in Progress, Sidelights

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Born 1961, in Melbourne, Western Australia, Australia; Education: Melbourne State College, Diploma of Teaching; Western Australian Institute of Technology (now Curtin University), Certificate of Fluency in Japanese; University of Western Australia, M.A. (creative writing). Hobbies and other interests: Traveling, reading, swimming, bush-walking, photography, yoga, scuba diving.

Career

Teacher, Western Australian Education Department, 1984–87 and 1991–92, Japan International School and American School in Japan, Tokyo, 1987–90. Has taught missionary children in remote western Nepal and intensive Japanese classes for airline employees. Guest speaker, 1993–; Society of Women Writers (Western Australian Branch), editor of Papermates magazine, 1996–; guest appearance on radio programs, 1998; runs writing classes and workshops. Denmark Agricultural College, Denmark, Western Australia, Australia, teacher of vocational English.

Member

Society of Women Writers (Western Australia branch), Fellowship of Australian Writers, Children's Book Council, Amnesty International, Australian Conservation Foundation.

Honors Awards

Society of Women Writer's Bronze Quill Award, 1992; Fellowship of Australian Writers (FAW) Furphy Award for best novel, 1995, and Western Australia Young Readers Book Award (WAYRBA) third-place award, 1996, both for Dolphin Song; South-West Literary Award, 1995, for play Christmas Lunch; Mary Grant Bruce Short-Story Award, FAW, 1997, for Donkey Ears; Wilderness Society Environmental Award shortlist, and WAYRBA shortlist, both 1999, both for Border Line; Family Therapists' Award for Children's Literature shortlist, 2001, for Choices; WAYRBA shortlist, 2002, for Border Line, 2005, for Choices, and 2006, for Horse Mad.

Writings

FOR CHILDREN AND YOUNG ADULTS

Dolphin Song, Fremantle Arts Centre Press (Fremantle, Western Australia, Australia), 1995.

Border Line, Fremantle Arts Centre Press (Fremantle, Western Australia, Australia), 1998.

Choices, Fremantle Arts Centre Press (Fremantle, Western Australia, Australia), 2001.

Horse-Mad, Fremantle Arts Centre Press (Fremantle, Western Australia, Australia), 2005.

Photographs in the Mud, illustrated by Brian Harrison-Lever, Fremantle Arts Centre Press (Fremantle, Western Australia, Australia), 2005.

The Kid Whose Mum Kept Possums in Her Bra, Fremantle Arts Centre Press (Fremantle, Western Australia, Australia), 2006.

Also author of readers for Thomson Learning, including Butterfly Notes, 2002, Ironkid, 2003, Being Billy, 2003, Scuba Kid, and Jungle Trek. Author of one-act play Christmas Lunch, 1995. Work represented in anthologies, including Going down South, 1992, and Going down South Two, 1993. Contributor of short stories, poems, and articles to magazines, including Lucky, Western Word, Nature and Health, Infant Times, Western Review, Let's Travel, and In Perspective.

Wolfer explores two parallel lives for teenager Elizabeth, each of which result from the decision she might make after learning that she is pregnant. (Cover design by Marion Duke.)

Work in Progress

Shadows Walking, a YA novel; The Shark Callers, a fantasy novel for middle-grade readers.

Sidelights

A teacher who has worked in Tokyo, Japan as well as in Nepal in addition to schools in her native Australia, Dianne Wolfer pens novels for children and young adults that focus on life in modern Australia and Pacific countries. Geared for older readers, her novel Choices finds teen Elisabeth coping with an unwanted pregnancy, while Dolphin Song focuses on the intersection between the human and natural world. In this latter book—Wolfer's first published novel—sixteen-year-old Melody forgets about her own adolescent problems when a dolphin that shares the teen's favorite swimming spot becomes injured in a fisherman's net, with tragic results. Noting that Wolfer has "done her dolphin research," Sharon Rawlins noted in a School Library Journal review of Dolphin Song that the author "clearly sympathizes" with her finned protagonists. On a more humorous note, Horse-Mad presents younger readers with an interesting predicament as an eight-year-old horse named Bay wakes up one morning to find that she has been transformed from a sleek, swift, and graceful horse into a gangly, hairless (and tail-less), human child.

"I feel very lucky to be able to live in a beautiful area on the southwest coast of Western Australia," Wolfer once told SATA. "My home is surrounded by bushland, and it's a short drive to the dramatic beaches of the Southern Ocean. Parrots, wrens, and lorikeets feed outside my window, and if I'm up early I see kangaroos nibbling on my neighbor's lawn (our lively dog hasn't learned to ignore them yet!). In spring, the bush shows off its wild flowers and whales calve in the bays offshore.

"As you may have guessed, the environment and unique beauty of the corner of Australia in which I live play an important part in my writing. I am interested in the conflicts that occur when humans meet nature, so my books have environmental undercurrents and themes. Friendship and the bonds between characters are also of great importance to me as a writer.

"I love traveling and have lived in several countries (Thailand, Nepal, and Japan). My family and friends are scattered around the world, and I hope that, through my writing, I can foster an interest in other countries and cultures." Wolfer's novel Border Line is inspired by this interest in contrasting cultures; its story of a teen uprooted from friends, home, and school due to a parent's job relocation is set in both urban Australia and a remote area of the country called the Nullarbor where people—let alone people her age with whom she can be friends—are rare.

"The things I like most about writing as a profession are that I can work my own hours and that I am able to go to schools and other communities to meet interesting When her family moves to a remote area of Australia, Cassie thinks her life is over until some new friends and a new attitude turn things around in Wolfer's 1998 novel. (Cover design by Marion Duke.)people," Wolfer also told SATA. In addition to writing, she teaches vocational English at a local agricultural school, where, as Wolfer remarked on her Web site, her students teach her "a lot about cattle, sheep and engines." In 2002 she walked the Kokoda Track through Papua New Guinea, a trip that inspired Village Trek, her well-received World War II-based picture book Photographs in the Mud, and a young-adult manuscript titled Shadows Walking.

Biographical and Critical Sources

PERIODICALS

Australian Book Review, June, 1995, p. 62.

Magpies, July, 2001, review of Choices, p. 42; May, 2005, review of Photographs in the Mud, p. 38; September, 2005, Russ Merrin, review of Horse-Mad, p. 39.

ONLINE

Dianne Wolfer Home Page, http://www.members.wetnet.com.au/dianne (September 27, 2005).

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