Melanie Guile (1949-) Biography
Personal, Career, Member, Writings, Sidelights
Born 1949, in Durham, England; Education: University of Melbourne, B.A. (with
honors), M.A., and diploma in Education. Politics: "Labour/Green." Hobbies and other interests: Gardening, cats, walking, swimming, sketching.
University of Melbourne, Parkville, Australia, lecturer in English literature, 1972-88, lecturer in children's literature, 1988-94; Royal Melbourne Institute of Technology, Melbourne, Australia, instructional designer and educational editor, 1980, 1995—.
Friends of Stony Creek (environmental organization).
Revenge of the Green Genie (junior fiction), illustrated by Clare Watson, Scholastic Australia (Sydney, Australia), 1996.
Mr. Venus—Computer Wizard (junior fiction), Scholastic Australia (Sydney, Australia), 1997.
"CULTURE IN" SERIES
North and South Korea, Raintree (Chicago, IL), 2003.
Indonesia, Heinemann Library (Sydney, Australia), 2003, Raintree (Chicago, IL), 2004.
Japan, Heinemann Library (Sydney, Australia), 2003, Raintree (Chicago, IL), 2004.
New Zealand, Heinemann Library (Sydney, Australia), 2003, Raintree (Chicago, IL), 2004.
China, Heinemann Library (Sydney, Australia), 2003, Raintree (Chicago, IL), 2004.
Papua New Guinea, Heinemann Library (Sydney, Australia), 2003, Raintree (Chicago, IL), 2004.
Singapore, Heinemann Library (Sydney, Australia), 2003, Raintree (Chicago, IL), 2004.
Thailand, Heinemann Library (Sydney, Australia), 2003, Raintree (Chicago, IL), 2004.
India, Heinemann Library (Sydney, Australia), 2005.
Malaysia, Heinemann Library (Sydney, Australia), 2005.
Contributor to St. Catherine's: A Centenary Celebration, 1896-1996, Helicon, 1996. Contributor of columns and reviews to Magpies.
Australian author Melanie Guile is the author of several volumes in Raintree Publisher's "Culture In" series, as well as the chapter books Revenge of the Green Genie and Mr. Venus—Computer Wizard, both published in Australia. The "Culture In" series examines life in various parts of the world through customs, language, spiritual beliefs, and arts and crafts traditions.
Guile once told SATA: "From the age of seven I knew I wanted to write stories. We had a wonderful teacher—a Miss Christianson—who used to pin great colorful, detailed posters to the blackboard and encourage us to weave stories around them. I also remember that, when you had finished your other work, you were allowed to read special books. They were nothing to look at on the outside—just blank red covers—but inside they were Cicely May Barker's 'Flower Fairy' books! I love them still.
"Because everyone knew you couldn't make a living by writing books, people suggested that I might be a journalist, and for many years that's what I said I would become. But at high school and university, my love of literature took another twist and I became a university lecturer—enthusing other people about great works of literature. The academic study of literature does nothing for one's own writing, alas—in fact quite the reverse. In my case, I rediscovered the confidence to write when I had my second baby. I thought: 'Well, here's someone who won't judge too harshly!' I wrote my first (unpublished) children's novel in the few weeks after her birth, and to my great joy, my children are still my greatest fans.
"I wrote several rather dull and serious books before I hit on the idea of humor—and it seemed to like me! Now, I concentrate on comic stories for middle-to-upper primary-age readers. I always try to put lots of magic into them as well. Magic and humor seem a good combination, because I want to write books that reluctant readers will enjoy. It was a great moment for me when, at an author talk I was giving at a school, an intellectually disabled boy showed huge enthusiasm for my book Revenge of the Green Genie. His aide told me the boy had written his first-ever story, inspired by my book. I want children to love books—mine or anyone else's—and to find delight in them, as this boy did.
"Because I hate rewriting, I tend to write fast and not rework very much at all. I know this is not a good model for young writers to follow, but I suppose I'm too impatient to draft and redraft. The hardest part is thinking up the plot—something I'm not good at. I have so little time in my busy life to write that each book takes at least a year. One day I hope to be able to devote a set number of days a week to my writing but, at the moment, it's whenever I can snatch a spare day or weekend.
"I read other modern children's writers, and I'm lost in admiration—particularly for some Australian authors and illustrators. They are very honest, no-nonsense writers. It's a great advantage to work in children's writing because the kids won't let you get away with anything false, and they require a good story. Too many adult authors seem to have great talent but not enough to say.
"To aspiring writers I would say the usual things: read lots of good books of the kind you want to write. Write about what you know. The more writing you do, the better you'll get. Don't give up. But I'd also say something I don't hear writers saying much: that you do need a basic talent for words, and this needs to be coupled with a practical determination. Calm persistence goes a long way and is certainly more useful than inspiration. Finally—listen to advice, but above all trust your own voice."*
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