There is no doubt Adele Broadbent has found her calling – supporting kids to experience the wonder found in books. She is the author of five tween novels and has her own children’s book review site that every parent should know about.
BY KRISTEN CAPACCIO
Tell me about your love of books.
I have always been a reader and at the library. I didn’t think I was going to be a writer; I actually trained in accounts and got a job at Whitcoulls (stationery and bookstore) in Auckland and then at Harper & Row (a publishing company) in Sydney.
I then had a family and it wasn’t until my young boys asked me to tell them a story that I realised I’d like to explore my own storytelling. I saw a small advertisement for a writing course and decided to do it.
I started with writing school journals and then began a book with my grandfather. My writing grew from there, which guided my journey further into a life of books, becoming a children’s librarian and then starting my review site.
Tell me about the review website you started: Whatbooknext.com
This is a website I created and maintain with children’s book reviews. It started in 2015, just for fun, I kept a list of all the children’s books I had read, ranging from picture books to tweens.
When I was working in the library, I saw kids wandering up and down the aisles, struggling to choose a book. And it was then I knew I wanted to share my reviews in an easy format to help kids find a book they’d love. So, I created whatbooknext, a review site, with easy to use tags along the side so kids, parents or teachers can choose a topic by age, genre or theme of interest.
What was your first published book?
After many attempts, I got a collection of educational titles published in NZ, Australia and the USA, which began a new dream of writing novels for tweens.
Too Many Secrets was my first published tween novel, but actually the third book I have written. I won a manuscript assessment through the course I took and grabbed this opportunity. I learned so much through this process.
How did publishing your first book change your writing process?
I learned how to structure a novel. Before I would write and write, but with this new knowledge, I learned how to save a whole lot of time. This process is now what I teach kids in my writing workshops.
My second book Just Jack was published in 2011, and became a Finalist in the 2012 NZ Post Book Awards and was a Storylines Notable Book for the year, which I am very proud of.
What is your greatest writing achievement?
Keeping kids reading – that’s what I want to do more than anything. I don’t want kids to miss out on the wonder they can find through books.
What is your work/writing schedule like?
I’m surrounded by books day and night. I have my dream job at Wardini Books, four days a week as a children’s bookseller where I visit schools and libraries and then review books on my review site. I love working with teachers and librarians to find the best books for their collections.
I also run monthly book clubs for kids at Wardinis. My writing can be sporadic around this schedule, but it’s about 5-10 hours a week.
The other three days I garden. I do love to garden, but I always thought of it as wasted reading time, so now I listen to audiobooks while I’m at it.
Does writing energize or exhaust you?
Both – definitely! Sometimes I am stuck. Yet sometimes I am up at 4am, as one of my characters is yelling at me and I just have to get up and get it all out onto paper.
What can we look out for next?
I have a new book coming out in March 2020. I am also working on a novel for 11-13 year-olds about a historical event in Taranaki, 1881 around Parihaka. If I could have anything, it would be more time. I have so much I’d like to write and read!
What are you reading at the moment?
The Warning by James Patterson and Robison Wells. It’s a thriller and the scarier the better for me.
What is your favourite under-appreciated novel?
A Monster Calls by Patrick Ness. This is absolutely the best book ever. I sob every single time I read it, which is countless times. It won both the Carnegie Medal and Greenaway Medal and was made into a movie with Sigourney Weaver and Liam Neeson and people still don’t know it!
What are common traps aspiring writers need to avoid?
Sending something off before it’s ready. There is a process to make sure your writing is ready, and you can’t rush it. First read and re read it. Then get two other people to read it. Wait two months and read it again. Time to let it sit is so important. When you go back to it, you will always find something to improve.
Putting all your eggs in one basket. Keep several writing projects going, even if it’s just notes, ideas or thoughts. Don’t put all your energy into one manuscript as that can create some major disappointment. Always keep writing. There is a lot of luck in finding a publisher, you just have to keep at it.
About the author
Kristen loves anything to do with food – from tahini fudge to turmeric coconut curry. She loves being in the fresh outdoor air, running the Abel Tasman, camping at Lake Waikaremoana or challenging her two young sons to a game of soccer.