My name is Melissa Gijsbers and I've wanted to be an author ever since I was in High School. I won some awards in year 11 & 12 and English was one of my best subjects, however, back then, Creative Writing wasn't an acceptable career path. (Wow, I sound old saying that!) Instead, I went to uni to study journalism.
As it often does, life got in the way, and I had to go to work full time, then took time out to have my two gorgeous boys. My creative writing journey was put on hold, but I was still writing.
Around 2006, I started my first blog. The earliest blog post I still have is from 2008. Since then, I have blogged on a number of topics, from business to writing to parenting to whatever else I felt like. I have also written articles for a variety of websites.
In 2011, I started writing fiction once more, starting with a series of flash fiction as well as dusting off some of the children's book manuscripts I'd written in high school. I joined the 12x12 in 2012 and the Chapter Book Challenge that same year, rediscovering my love for writing fiction, especially for children.
Now I write a variety of different genre including picture books, novels for children, flash fiction, blogs, and non-fiction.
Ask the Author
How do you pronounce your last name?
It’s a Dutch surname that’s pronounced “Gizz-Burz”. The G is soft as in Go.
When my Opa (grandfather) came to Australia, immigration asked what his name was, and they wrote is as Gijsbers. It’s meant to be spelled with a y and an umlaut, however immigration spelled it with an i and j.
My father came to Australia when he was three and doesn’t speak much Dutch, I can’t speak any either.
What is your favourite book you've written? Why?
So far it's "Swallow Me, NOW!". I really like the story of Sam and, in many ways, it's a rewriting of history as how I wished things had happened when I was bullied as a child. Having understanding teachers, as well as the resolution of new friends is what I would have liked to happened...
What is your favourite genre to read - and to write?
I'm not sure I have a favourite genre, either for reading or writing. I tend to go through phases... though I do enjoy realistic fiction more than fantasy. This could be historical or contemporary romance, or something else that lets me escape from life, especially when things are stressful!
For writing, while I mostly write for kids, however I am trying my hand at writing a contemporary romance novella at the moment, along with a fantasy book for children. I'll give almost anything a go... if I have the right idea to write down.
What mystery in your own life could be a plot for a book?
One of the biggest mysteries we have is where all the odd socks go! I'm sure there is story in there somewhere... just haven't quite worked out what it could be!
What is the best thing about being a writer?
Where do I start? I love taking aspects of my life and turning them into fiction, changing things to how I wish it would happen. For example, in a story I'm working on, there's a kid who doesn't like playing sport, and the teacher finds another way for him to be involved with the team.
I love using my imagination to create a world where things work out, I do like a happy ending.
I also love that writing is a great way for me to unwind and get the voices out of my head!
How do you deal with writer’s block?
There are a few different things I do to deal with writer's block.
Sometimes I need to take some time out and do something different from writing. It could be take a walk, go to bed (I do most of my writing at night), do some housework, or play with the kids.
Sometimes I switch projects and work on another story for a while. This seems to clear my head so I can go back on the project I was working on.
Sometimes I just write some gibberish and it seems to clear the block. 🙂
How do you get inspired to write?
Inspiration can come from the strangest places sometimes. A story could be inspired by my kids and something they do, it could be a conversation in a cafe, or a writing prompt I stumble on. It could be a discarded object on the floor or a random memory, or something else entirely.
There are days when inspiration doesn't come, no matter what I do. But when I relax, things seem to change and the inspiration returns.
What’s your advice for aspiring writers?
The biggest advice I can give is to keep on writing. I've met so many people who say they would like to write but never have the time.... I have a day job, I am a single Mum - and I write whenever I get a chance. Finding the time is hard, but keep on writing.
Where did you get the idea for Swallow Me, NOW!?
For Swallow Me, NOW! the idea came from a mixture of my own experiences as a missionary kid returning to Australia as well as experiences of my two children being bullied at school.