Interview: Aleesah Darlison

Aleesah DarlisonIn your experience visiting schools all over Australia, what reaction or feedback do you get from students about the Unicorn Riders series?

I’m always delighted at the reaction I receive from students about the Unicorn Riders series – it’s so incredibly positive. Young readers simply love the stories and will often have a character they identify with and follow throughout the series. As an author, there’s nothing more rewarding than having children tell you that they love the stories you’ve written. That’s why we do what we do.

What do you hope readers will learn from the Unicorn Riders?

First of all, plain and simple, I want readers to enjoy my stories and love the characters I’ve created. In terms of learning something from the books, I’d like readers to understand that the stories are all about believing in yourself. I really hope that, just like the courageous Riders in the books, young readers will strive to find their inner strength, appreciate their own unique skills and be proud of who they are.

Teachers and Teacher-Librarians have found this series resonating with reluctant readers. Why do you think that is?

The stories have so much to offer. They’re fast-paced, high-action adventure stories which are designed to keep readers turning pages. Chapter and book length are kept short and text is broken up with gorgeous illustrations by Jill Brailsford, so they’re not daunting for reluctant readers to tackle. Another key point is the strong characterisation. As I mentioned before, readers truly do identify with the characters and are drawn back to the books over and over. Once a young reader starts the series, there’s no “reluctance” to keep reading. In fact, it’s the exact opposite.Unicorn Riders Book 1: Quinn's Riddles

What’s the strangest question you’ve been asked during a school visit?

Once I was asked if I owned a tropical island. Of course I said yes!

What advice would you give aspiring young writers?

Attend as many writing workshops and festivals as you can. Meet lots of authors and learn from them. Don’t be afraid to ask questions. Practise your writing by entering any competitions you can find, and read, read, read.