Ailsa Wild, the circus performer turned children’s author from Tantawangalo, has a busy year ahead of her as she releases eight books in a new series.
The series of mystery books, aimed at ages six to 10, is named after its protagonist Squishy Taylor – a brave, cheeky, adventurous girl who lives in a blended family and defies gender roles.
“She and her step sisters have heaps of fun, get into trouble, and sometimes they’re so naughty it worries me!” Ms Wild said.
“There are heaps of blended families now and I think it’s important to reflect what is happening in society – it gives kids a sense of what other people’s lives look like.”
She also thought it was important to be free of gender stereotypes, partly because it represents different ways of being in the world, but mostly as it is fun.
“If we stay in the boxes of gender stereotypes, everyone’s world is a little bit smaller,” Ms Wild said.
“A lot of books deal with issues for blended families, or have a protagonist that isn’t a girly girl, but they are usually a bit heavy.
“Part of the thing about Squishy is that she’s a normal kid, and what’s happening is she’s having really fun adventures and the fact she is not those stereotypes is in the background.”
She was speaking from Brisbane while visiting the World Science Festival to give a reading of one of her books that feature microbes as the heroes, finding the story to be immensely popular with the scientific community.
“When making microbes into characters, all you have to do is put them in danger, give them a personality and friends and anyone can related to them,” Ms Wild said.
“I thought I was writing the book for kids but now I know I was really writing it for science geeks!
“Sometimes they send me corrections.”
Specialising in duo acrobatics, Ms Wild has taught circus performing to youths but has stopped to focus on writing.
“I have been obsessed with reading since I was eight years old and read constantly,” she said.
“In Year 2 there was a stage where I was reading a book a day.
“I think writing children’s books is hawking back to my own obsession.”
Ailsa Wild will launch her Squishy Taylor series at Candelo Books, Bega on Saturday, March 19 at 2pm.