Newy with Kids chats with kids book author Jess Black. She’s one of the many local authors and illustrators which call Newcastle & Hunter region home.

Describe yourself in 3 words.

Loyal, reserved, caring.

How did you become a children’s book author?

My previous work writing in children’s television and as a buyer/editor at Scholastic Book Club led to the opportunity to co-author the Bindi Wildlife Adventure series. This adventure series combined so many of my passions – helping animals, the environment and having a rollicking adventure along the way. The books that have followed have largely been in a similar vein. Keeper of the Crystals allowed me to flex my love of fantasy. I look forward to trying new genres. I’d like to write a mystery series one day.

What inspires you?

Enid Blyton, JK Rowing, Ursula Le Guin, C S Lewis.

How do you capture your ideas?

Ideas can come from anywhere. It’s about keeping your eyes and ears open. It might be an overheard conversation, something my kids have said, a book I’ve read. I’m always on the lookout!

What are you working on right now?

I am writing the second chapter book in The Tales of Mr Walker series. These continue on from the initial collection of short stories, which follow the adventures of a very charismatic Labrador who lives in the fanciest hotel in town.

When can we expect your next book to be available?

The Tales of Mr Walker is being released on the 29 November 2018. It’s a hardcover classic edition with four short stories, full colour illustrations by Sara Acton.

Other than your books, what are your favourite books or authors to read to your kids?

My daughters have quite different taste. My eldest likes books which have a cross over into her life – friendship, school life, that kind of thing. She loves anything by Belinda Murrell. My younger daughter enjoys fantasy and humour, but also anything to do with animals. She is enjoying the Macca the Alpaca books and The Storey Treehouse books.

Any other interesting things that your fans should know about you?

I grew up in South Africa. I am afraid of heights. My background is in theatre and I still love going to the theatre. One of my favourite jobs was managing an arthouse cinema.

Where is your favourite spot in Newcastle and the Hunter to go with your family?

Too many! We live in Carrington and love everything about Carrington so we’re often at the park here or walking along the waterfront. Bush walking in Glenrock, the beaches and hanging at our favourite restaurant, Antojitos.

Published books

The Tales of Mr Walker series

Keeper of the Crystals Series

The Kaboom Kid series

Bindi Wildlife Adventure series

Bindi Behind the Scenes series

Little Paws series

RSPCA Animal Tales series

Moon Dance

Bold Australian Girl


Upcoming book releases 

The Tales of Mr Walker – Newcastle launch 3 November 2018.

The final book in the Keeper of the Crystals Series (book 8) – Eve and the Kraken Hunt is being released on the 1 December 2018

The first two chapter books in the Tales of Mr Walker series come out in May 2019

For more information

Jess Black
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