I have just received an ARC – that’s an advanced reading copy of Cath Crowley’s new YA novel Graffiti Moon. I can’t wait to read it.
Last year, I worked with a group of students from migrant and refugee backgrounds in a series of creative writing workshops at Maroondah Secondary College.
“A picture must possess a real power to generate light and for a long time now I’ve been conscious of expressing myself through light or rather in light. I have always tried to hide my efforts and wished my works to have a light joyousness of springtime which never lets anyone suspect the labors it […]
When I was studying graphic design at RMIT, I majored in photographic design and one of my dreams at that time was to become a movie director. I even made a short film for one of my assignments which was centred around a chessboard. If it sounds familiar my heroes were Bergman, Fellini and my […]
The Race for the Chinese Zodiac is very much a traditional tale. It begins ‘‘Long ago in Ancient China’’ and ends ‘‘And that is why, to this very day, cats have hated rats’’. It tells the tale of 13 animals who race across a river to decide which animals will become part of the Chinese Zodiac, which has only 12 categories. Gabrielle […]
I returned from the Sunshine Coast hinterland with a tick in the top of my head.
No dandelions growing around where I’m staying but Catsears are prolific and just as good to eat. Catsear and dandelions make great salads. In Chinese medicine dandelions are cooling and work to detox the body.
“But the Kelvar can flee or defend themselves, whereas the Olvar that grow cannot. And among these I hold trees dear” (from Tolkein’s Silmarillion) Spending a week in an elegant place within beautiful surroundings is the perfect medicine for writing. You can’t waste a moment, especially if you are paying for the privilege.
Thank you to everyone who commented and asked questions on The Age newspaper website blog about my chapter in the MS Readathon competition.
I went to Shanghai in search of Mirabel, the character in my latest novel, Little Paradise. I walked the winding tree-lined streets of the old French and International concessions and pushed through the crowds of Nanjing Road and the Bund.
I have just returned from a trip to Shanghai and Nanjing presenting books gifted to Shanghai and Nanjing libraries by 49 Australian children’s authors.
Being a writer of children’s fiction has its benefits in the age race. When I’m writing a novel, I inhabit the mind of my young protagonist. At the moment I’m 11, going on 12 which
I have heard time and time again from friends, acquaintances, even strangers, how wonderful my mother is. She has this strange effect on people. When she leaves the room people make this comment. But it wasn’t until my mother broke her wrist and I had to take her to the hospital, that I discovered why.
Kate Forsyth talks about the inspiration behind her new fantasy novel, THE WILDKIN’S CURSE which will be released in May. It just goes to show that when you have a story to tell, even a little newborn babe cannot stop the flow of words and ideas.
I finished the Stieg Larsson books the other day and have to say I rather enjoyed them. It took a little while to get used to the Swedish names and I felt The Girl With The Dragon Tattoo
The longer I write the more I feel like the woman in the famous 1964 Japanese movie ‘The Woman in the Dunes’. This film has haunted me ever since I first saw it years ago as a teenager. One of the lines in the film is ‘Are you shovelling sand to live, or living to […]
I love reading spooky stories but not before I go to bed. My imagination is a little too overactive. SHORT AND SCARY is a a small book but it’s packed with 216 short stories, poems and illustrations by some of your favourite authors and illustrators. Carole Wilkinson, Shaun Tan, James Roy, Andy Griffiths,
The Children’s Book Council of Australia has just announced its Shortlist and Notable list. I was very pleased to learn that  A Ghost in My Suitcase was named a Notable Book.
I am lucky. I have a house that stands on a hill so I can lie in bed and see trees and sky and the horizon. I can talk to the birds in the daytime. And the bats flying passed my window at night. I can see the stars turning.
This waffle recipe is the best I’ve tasted. I think it’s the oats that make all the difference. They are light, crunchy and so delicious.
I love this review of Little Paradise written by Australian journalist and author, Helene Chung. Her book Ching Chong China Girl is published by Harper Collins. 
I interviewed Sally about how she went about illustrating THE RACE FOR THE CHINESE ZODIAC.
I received these photos in an email from a friend this morning and I had to share them. Some were taken immediately after the Sichuan earthquake of 2008. The earthquake occurred in the area where the pandas live.
On my walk I heard a cricket sing. I looked ever so carefully at a small patch of garden. And found a dollar coin. In the Fitzroy Gardens where ancient trees breathe, I spied a small hole high up in a trunk.
My mind must be very open at the moment because I am highly susceptible to the power of suggestion. Two separate incidents have occurred in the past week which most of you will say is sheer coincidence but I call it uncanny.
I had a lovely time at my book launch for Little Paradise. It was held at Hutong Dumpling Bar in Melbourne. The decor is old Chinese, the perfect setting as it mirrors
This is a very short post. I just wanted to mention that Little Paradise is going into its second reprinting already! This is music to my ears. Normally people celebrate with chocolate, but I don’t like chocolate except chicken mole which is Mexican chocolate chicken. So instead, I bought myself a tub of Maggie Beer’s […]
WARD SAGAR You are invited to join us with Gabrielle Wang on Friday the 12th of March at 5pm. Where she will be launching her new book Little Paradise. Her other books include Garden of Empress Cassia, Pearl of Tiger Bay, A ghost in my suitcase and her new picture story The race for the […]
This afternoon we had the most amazing hail storm I’ve ever seen. Great balls of ice, some as big as baseballs, rained down from the sky. My neighbour’s windows were smashed, our house is leaking like a sieve. All towels and buckets are in use. Here are 3 beauties my son picked up from the […]
Today I discovered that perfection was like watching a beautiful butterfly. It is there but for a fleeting moment.
I had two radio interviews today. One was good. The other was bad. One was in a studio. The other was from home on the telephone. The bad interview was like speed dating. That was the one in the studio. Not that I’ve been speed dating mind you, but the premise is the same – […]
If you haven’t seen this Youtube clip already, here it is. Pretty Cool.
Two other children’s authors released their beautiful new books today. Jaguar Warrior by Sandy Fussell And Toppling by Sally Murphy. I can’t wait to read them.
My new Young Adult novel Little Paradise hits the shelves today! It’s always a wonderful feeling to know your book is all grown up and out on its own. It’s also tempting, when out shopping, to pop into a book shop to see if your new book is there. Little Paradise has had some great […]
My sister-in-law, Allison is a wonderful cook and cake maker. This time, she made a tiger cake for the launch of The Race for the Chinese Zodiac. It had a lovely tiger face surrounded by marzipan grass and stripey insides of chocolate, but you’ll have to wait until we cut the cake to see that […]
1926, 1938, 1950, 1962, 1974, 1986, 1998, 2010 Tiger people are sensitive and brave. They like to joke around and can be lucky with money but they also have short tempers and often stand up against authority. Tigers are most compatible with Horses, Dragons, and Dogs. You can read the story about the zodiac in […]
It’s good to be able to spread myself out. This is the beauty of being on a writing retreat and I am treasuring every moment. At home, my writing room is cramped and dark. When I began writing 10 years ago, I used the corner of our bedroom, so it’s not necessary to have a […]
I am still on the surfcoast at Lorne editing my novel. Yesterday was the anniversary of the devastating Black Saturday bush fires which swept across Victoria last year. I am sure everyone in this state remembers exactly where they were on that day when the temperature soared to an amazing 46.4 °C (115.5 °F). It was a […]
My picture book The Race for the Chinese Zodiac came out yesterday. I’m down on the south coast working on my next series of novels so I visited the local bookshop to see if they had it in stock. To my disappointment, but not my surprise, they didn’t. Then later, as I passed the secondhand […]
Are you a perfectionist? Do you ruminate over every sentence, every paragraph? Are you all blocked up? I used to be one of these people. It’s kind of like being constipated with words. I couldn’t go on until I had written and rewritten a paragraph at least five times and then, when I returned to my […]
Our street is lined with beautiful 80 year old oaks whose arms reach proudly skywards. But of late, their leaves have drooped, their dark grey limbs appear wrinkled, brittle and dry. The drought Melbourne has been experiencing over the last few years has had its effect on all the beautiful big trees in this city. […]
THE READING STACK A GHOST IN MY SUITCASE Winner of the 2009 Aurealis Award Best Children’s Novel Puffin Books (a subsidiary of Penguin). Australian, Junior, Young Adult. Paperback rrp $16.95 Guest Reviewer – Jo Burnell When twelve-year-old Celeste travels to China to visit her grandmother, she carries her mother’s ashes. A feeling of expectation hovers. Is […]
Last night in Brisbane, the winners of the Aurealis Awards for 2009 were announced at a special awards ceremony in the Judith Wright Centre. My book, A Ghost in My Suitcase was awarded Best Children’s Novel. Unfortunately I couldn’t attend but I followed the announcement of each winner on Twitter, which was almost as exciting […]
Sometimes you come to a place in your writing and there seems to be no obvious direction to take. The story has been rolling along but suddenly you come to a roadblock. That’s when you let your main character take over. He or she will tell you where they want to go. They have an […]
This is chocolate torte is quick and simple. INGREDIENTS 125 gms unsalted butter 125 gms drinking chocolate  3/4 cup 125 gms almond meal or hazelnut meal 125 gms castor sugar  1/2 cup 3 free range eggs METHOD Beat all ingredients together until smooth Bake for 40 to  50 mins at 180 degrees C. Sprinkle with […]
I have just returned from a research trip to the area around Wahgunyah and Beechworth where my great grandfather settled when he came from China to Australia in 1853. It is a beautiful part of Victoria and is a significant gold mining region. Beechworth has been extremely well preserved and still carries the old world […]
Christmas means Family, Friends and Fine Food. Of course, being Chinese, family is of primary importance and next comes food. If you have ever been to a Chinese family dinner you might find that we always discuss each dish as it comes out. Or if not each dish then something to do with food. We […]
Everyone works to the beat of their own drum. Everyone has tools that they like to use. The following are some that I have found most useful. Laptop or Computer It goes without saying that a computer is essential in this day and age. I do almost all my writing on my laptop unless I […]
I’ve been too busy with my current project to blog lately. I have to complete the first draft of my novel before Christmas so I’m working on a chapter a day which averages to about 1100 words, and it seems to be going well. I would never show anyone my first draft. I have written […]
DO TREES LAY EGGS? This one did – a golden one. When writing a novel, especially an historic one, there are so many interesting facts you learn along the way. This is one I learnt this morning. I was able to use in my chapter too. The Welcome Stranger, a gold nugget that weighed 210 […]
It takes a particular personality type to be an author. Do you make the grade? The following are some of the essential ingredients. 1. Are you a seeker after truth? 2. Are you tenacious? 3. Are you patient? 4. Are you a dreamer? 5. Are you a perfectionist when it comes to words? 6. Do […]
Note To Self: Never answer fan mail when you’re tired. This is what I almost sent off to a young fan the other day: ‘Dear Stephanie, Thank you for writing and telling me how much you love my boobs.’ This was very funny and I’m so glad I re-read it before pressing the send button. […]
STIR FRIED SWEETCORN This is one of my favourite dishes because it’s easy and delicious. I love the crunchy, sweet taste of the corn. Ingredients: 3 corn on the cob 1 T chopped spring onions 11/2 T cooking oil (I use light olive oil) ½ t salt Method: Wash the corn. Stand a corncob on […]
It’s been a hectic few weeks with a panel discussion on story telling at the Victorian State Library, a meet the artist’s day at the beautiful Dromkeen, then I flew off to Cairns for the Cairns Literary Festival at Trinity Bay High School. The kids there were great and the older students from years 10-12 […]
For the past 2 weeks my kitchen table has looked like this. My family has had to eat their meals between first pages and old manuscripts of Little Paradise. At least there’s no lack of reading material. I don’t have a big office and you need a lot of table space at this stage of […]
Writing is hard work. There are many stages in the life of a novel, from first drafts (of which there are too many to count), to structural edit, to copy edit, to cover design, to first pages, second pages, third pages and then final print. Of course many of the work is invisible and hard […]
This is the finished front and back covers for Little Paradise. The girl in the photograph is my mum taken in 1944 when she was 20. On the back is the blurb and a fashion illustration that my mum drew when she was 14. She was crazy about fashion. The end papers will feature more […]
My daughter just told me that I’m ahead of the game. The real name for poo catchers is Harem pants and they are the very latest thing. So I just retrieved my poo…I mean Harem pants from the bin and am proudly wearing them once again.
Being a writer means that I sit on my bottom a lot which means that I wear only comfortable clothing. I live in my polar fleece top, tracksuit pants and Ugg boots. But yesterday my daughter told me that my eight-year old Target tracksuit pants look like ‘poo catchers’ – a term I discovered young […]
When I am browsing in a bookshop, I often pick up a book because of its cover. Then I look at the title, then read the blurb and if I’m still interested, I’ll turn to the first page to get a taste of what’s inside. The cover of a book is of utmost importance. It […]
The secret of writing is simple. All it involves is placing one word after the other to form a sentence. Then place one sentence after the other to form a paragraph. Then one paragraph after the other to form a chapter. And by the end of it all, you have a novel. Of course this […]
These are so delicious. They are crispy around the edges and so light it’s hard to know when to stop eating them. Best served with maple syrup. Ingredients I cup self-raising flour I 1/2 cups milk 6 tablespoons melted butter pinch of salt 1 tablespoon castor sugar 2 free range eggs Method Mix the flour, […]
This dish is delicious served hot or cold. Ingredients: 1 eggplant Sauce: 1 tablespoon oil 1 tablespoon sesame oil 2 cloves of garlic, minced 1 tablespoon peeled ginger, minced 2 tablespoon apple cider vinegar 2 tablespoon light soy sauce 1 tablespoon sugar Wash eggplant and cut off stem. Cut the eggplant in half lengthwise and […]
I love writing because each story is like opening a golden door to the unknown. I love its slipperiness, its unpredictability, the way it has taught me about life, about death, about people. I love finding a new voice to write in. At first this voice is just a whisper, a shimmer inside your brain. […]
After finally finishing Little Paradise I thought I would never write another historical novel again. But this was not to be. Along came an opportunity to write a series of four novels set in the Victorian goldfields. And every writer knows that it’s all about opportunity. I couldn’t let this one pass me by. My […]
This roast chicken is so easy to prepare and is deliciously moist because it is roasted over a pan of water. INGREDIENTS 1 free range chicken dark soya sauce (Mushroom soy is best because it makes the chicken a beautiful golden brown) 2 cloves of garlic 2 slices fresh ginger 2 spring onions salt METHOD […]
In my novel The Hidden Monastery I used a fox spirit as the antagonist in the story. These pesky creatures can morph into humans. Here are some foxy tales. In China there are many tales about Hu Li Jing or Fox Spirits. It is said that they acquired shape-shifting qualities after meditating in mountain caves […]
My mum’s 85th birthday tea party. If there was sound to this photo you would hear in the background the Collingwood Footy song which my family are all avid supporters of. This is because my grandfather worked at the Victoria market & everyone there barracked for the Magpies. I was once asked to fill in […]
The name of this dessert says it all. It’s so easy, quick, and an all time fave of mine and my family’s going right back to when I was little. Sorry, but I forgot to take the photo before everyone got stuck into it. This one serving was all that was left. You have to […]
Here is the sky at 6am from my back garden. It only lasted for about 5 minutes. So thankful I was up early. The sound effects were incredible too, amplified on the still Spring air – magpies warbling, doves cooing, a butcher bird carolling, a wattle bird cackling, minor birds squawking.
One of the questions I was asked at a recent school visit was Can you write two books at the same time? Yes I can, but they have to be of different genres. For example I can work on a picture book and a junior novel, or a picture book and a YA novel but […]
I remember when my kids were small, seeing boys driving in their cars sporting the tell tale P plates on the front and back windows, and my immediate thought was that they were hoons. If I passed a group of these boys in the street, I would feel uneasy, not knowing what was going on […]
This is my dog, Saffy. She is 12 years old, quite an old lady really, in fact she’s the same age as my mum if you counted her age in dog years. I needed Saffy to pose for a photograph on a skateboard. When I placed her on the board she didn’t want to stand […]
I have an author friend who told me that when he was a judge on a panel to award literary grants to Australian authors he immediately weeded out all entries that were written in the genre of fantasy or science fiction, discounting them as being non-literary. I was dismayed. Would he have tossed out Lord […]
This odd spot appeared in The Age British naturalist Sir David Attenborough is honoured that a giant rat-eating pitcher plant has been named after him. It could  have been worse, earlier this year three species of slime-mould beetle were named after George Bush, Dick Cheney and Donald Rumsfeld.
To view the full article go to.
It was such a pleasure visiting St Aquinas College in Ringwood these past two days. The Year 9’s were great – interesting, fun, and extremely well mannered. What more can I say but thanks guys. And thanks too for the input on the covers for Little Paradise.
Looking through the window Looking at old black and white photographs is like looking through a window in time. But if you open that window and let your mind wander inside the picture, the whole scene can come alive as if watching a movie. This is what I did when I was researching 1940’s Shanghai […]
What is your comfort zone? I notice the trend of YA novels these days is to write in the 1st person – ie using ‘I’. This sets up an intimacy with your reader as if you are talking only to them. Kate Grenville says, ‘First person can give a force, an immediacy, an idiosyncratic and […]
Last week my editor gave me back the copy edit for Little Paradise plus pages of notes. This is the Chan Buddhist – Chan means Zen in Chinese – stage in the evolution of a book where every word in every sentence is considered for its value to the story. I love this part of […]
What a great time I had at Voices on the Coast last week. The festival is held every year in Mooloolaba, Queensland (love saying that word – just rolls off the tongue). What I enjoy about writing festivals, and especially those for children, is being able to meet my young readers, visit new places, and […]
I have just returned from a Desert Writers walk lead by Raymond Hawkins of Into the Blue Creative Walks with writing workshops facilitated by Sydney based author Jan Cornall. The walk took us along sections of the Larapinta trail through some of the most beautiful country in the world. Lying in my swag on a […]
Robert Mckee is considered the guru of Story and every novelist should have a copy of his book in their shelves.  He was in Melbourne over the weekend to deliver his gruelling but inspirational three days of lectures. This is the second time I have attended his seminar, the first was back in 2003. (John […]
As writers of fiction, there are many things that we are in control of. We’re like God playing with the lives of our characters, deciding when they should suffer and when they should be happy. We create settings, devise plots and subplots, we place obstacles in their way. In short, our job is to make […]
It’s amazing how tight writing becomes when you remove the adverbs. I know, it’s been mentioned time and again in all the writing books, but I’m a slow learner or perhaps I wasn’t ready for that major piece of advice. It took a writer friend to sit down with me and go through five chapters […]
With grown up children still at home, (twenty and twenty-two) but living their separate lives with university and work, it is a rare occasion these days that we as a family – mama, baba, big sister (jie jie) and little brother (di di) –  are in the house at the same time. So I rejoice […]
While collecting ancient Chinese poems to include in my YA novel, Little Paradise, I came across this one by the famous poet, Bo Zhu Yi  (722-846). Reading it made me realise that those writers who penned their works before the invention of the printing press, before publishers came into being, before the spread of literacy, […]
Between the age of 6 and 12 life was full of adventures. In one day my friend and I might have ridden across the desert on our horses (mine was always a palamino), fought the baddies in the jungles of South America, sung at the tops of our voices in the Armadale railway station – […]
When I first went to live in Taiwan to study Chinese, I met a local girl called Peggy. She was around the same age, about twenty-two, with a wide, generous smile. I liked her very much. One day, her parents invited me home for dinner. It was her birthday. I spent the whole day looking […]
When my son was a little boy he wanted to be a truck or a crocodile when he grew up. Oh, to have the creativity of a child, the boundless mind without compartments. The Taoist philosopher, Lao zi says that we must get back to this childlike state, to be like an uncarved block of […]
I hadn’t done any life drawing since I left art school so I was pretty rusty when I started it up again at the beginning of the year. More often than not I find it frustrating, but sometimes the conte or charcoal or brush does what I want it to do. It’s a lot like […]
I spent a lovely morning talking with the girls from Ivanhoe Girls Grammar. There were many talented writers and artists in the groups and lots of enthusiastic readers.
There is an agreement between Copyright Agency Limited (CAL) and Australian educational institutions in regard to websites. If you have a website and an Australian educational institution reproduces some of the content off your site, you may be entitled to receive payment through CAL. I am about to add this new page to my website. […]
I know many writers who keep extensive diaries writing in them everyday. I find it hard to keep one and always have. I remember when 5 year diaries were the fashion for birthday presents and I wrote for five years straight around the age of 10. But I only wrote down mundane things never anything […]
The beauty of Cradle Mountain can never be captured on film but here’s just a small taste
I am off to Cradle Mountain in Tasmania for a few days. It’s cold in Melbourne, it will be colder down there being that much closer to Antartica. But the beauty and serenity of the place will sure make up for it. See you when I get back.
Just when I thought I had come to the end of my novel, Little Paradise, and had even gone out to a French restaurant to celebrate, I have now found that I still need to write two more chapters. It’s so tempting to rush an ending. But my duty to the novel and to my […]
It was very nice to find my blog, A Passing Whisper, on the list of the Top 50 Aussie Writers Blogs. You can see the whole list at
If you have a website or are setting one up, it’s really important that you’re able to change the information contained within it without having to ask the web designer to do it for you. My web designer and nephew, Jin, used WordPress to create my website. And now I can add new pages and […]