Today on Be A Fun Mum, I’m welcoming Australian children’s author, Aleesah Darlinson. Aleesah is a mother, wife, sister, daughter, children’s author and book reviewer for The Sun Herald. Her series for girls aged 7 plus, Totally Twins: Musical Mayhem, was released in September. The book follows the adventures of identical twins, Persephone (she’s the sensible one) and Portia (she’s the messy one) and is written in diary format.
Interview with Aleesah
What is your best FunMum tip?
Don’t forget to let yourself be a kid sometimes, too. You’ll be amazed at how good being silly can make you feel and the kids absolutely love it.
How many children do you have?
I have three young, energetic (and demanding!) kids aged 7, 5 and 2.
How to you find the work/family balance?
As my writing career is quickly taking off, I’m still trying to work it all out. It’s not easy because I enjoy my work so much. But I also know my kids won’t be little for long so I try to enjoy every precious moment I have with them.
What advice would you give someone wishing to write for children?
Go for it. Follow your dreams. Don’t worry about the washing, the cleaning, the ironing. Just write for all your worth because you never know where it might take you.
Do you use your own childhood memories as inspiration in your writing?
Very much so. I draw on my childhood memories, experiences, hopes and dreams and build them into my stories. Sometimes I pretty them up a bit, other times I relive and recount them as they really happened.
Your new book, Totally Twins, is written in diary format. How do you hope to encourage children to, not only read, but write as well?
I’m facing this problem with my oldest son at the moment. He’s a clever kid, but doesn’t seem to have a passion for writing. He has always loved books, always loved having books read to him, but there are so many other distractions in life. I try to sit with the kids every night and work through exercise books, doing maths, writing, reading. We play board games around the table, anything that keeps their minds and their imaginations open. I think – and hope – having the whole family do these activities together and making them fun will help ignite the passion for writing and reading that I have in my kids. I can only try my best, that’s all anyone can do really.
Have you met some twins?
Having been to various places talking about my books, I often talk to twins. I’ve even had people come up to tell me that they’re one of an identical set of triplets. Truly amazing! There are some really funny stories out there about twins’ experiences and tricks twins have played on other people. I love hearing about them all.
The twins, Perse and Portia, look the same but have different personalities. Can children learn to be themselves yet respect the difference in others around them?
I think those two aspects are very important for any child to learn. Loving and respecting ourselves helps with self-esteem. The more we like ourselves, the less afraid we are of others, the more we’re willing to accept and embrace their differences. No matter who we are or where we come from, we’re all different AND all the same deep down. In Totally Twins: Musical Mayhem, Perse has to learn to not take herself so seriously and that it’s okay to laugh at herself. I think this is a good life lesson for kids and adults. Sometimes we’re all guilty of being a little too serious for our own good. And that’s when we forget to appreciate how being different is good.
What is the Book About? by Angela Hall
In this first ever secret diary of Persephone Pinchgut, who is about as good at singing as a cat being thrown across the room, her drama class embarks on a musical. Now a musical to Portia her twin sister is like winning the lottery, but for Perse it is very much the rotten egg booby prize. Of course her friends and Portia completely and utterly tease the life out of Perse as only children can. With her Mum dealing with her own busy schedule and her Dad a million miles away and no one but her diary to turn to how will Perse get through this Musical Mayhem with her head held high?
— Angela Hall from Bug in a Book
Free Colouring Sheets
Be A Fun Mum readers can print these free character colouring pages and activity sheet. Click on the image to access the printable PDF file.
Illustrator: Serena Geddes
If you have a comment or question for Aleesah, leave a comment below.