Book People: A.L. Tait

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I am always on the lookout for new series for middle-upper primary readers as if a series is great, young readers simply devour them – which is surely what we want! I came across ‘The Mapmaker Chronicles: Race to the end of the world’ whilst browsing in a bookshop recently and I purchased it as my Sunday evening read. Suffice to say I read it in one sitting and then passed it on to my fantasy fiction loving husband. I then swiftly purchased many copies for my school library. Recommended for male and female readers from around 9+ who have loved series such as Emily Rodda’s ‘Deltora Quest’, Richard Flanagan’s ‘Rangers Apprentice’, D.M. Cornish’s ‘Monster Blood Tattoo’ or Michelle Paver’s ‘Chronicles of Ancient Darkness’. Stories as vivid and utterly engaging as ‘The Mapmaker Chronicles’ are rare, and I am greatly looking forward to reading the second in the series, due for release in 2015.

The Mapmaker Chronicles website is here and there are excellent teachers’ notes here.

I am delighted to have author A.L. Tait join me here today as part of the ‘Book People’ series. With over 50 of Australia’s finest children’s authors now featured in this popular series, A. L. Tait is in good company! See all the Book People posts here.

To add books to your home, school or library collection please click on title links.


Ten Things You Need to Know About A.L Tait

1. Tell us about your latest book.

‘Race to the end of the world’ is the first book in ‘The Mapmaker Chronicles’ adventure trilogy. The King is determined to discover what lies beyond the known world, and has promised a handsome prize to the ship’s captain who can bring him a map of the whole globe. To do that, they’ll need mapmakers – and 14-year-old Quinn is shocked to be one of the chosen. While his older brothers long for adventure, Quinn is content with a quiet life on the farm, but when word of his special talent gets out, he has no choice but to pack his bags and join the mismatched crew of slaves and stowaways on board the Libertas. Nobody knows what lies off the edge of the map (dragons? sea monsters?), but Quinn discovers that it’s a lot more than anyone bargained for…


2. How did you get started as a writer?

I have been a professional writer for more than 20 years, working on staff and as a freelancer for magazines and newspapers. I didn’t start writing fiction until my late twenties, when I decided it was time to start telling my own stories. I wrote three full-length adult novels before a chance conversation with my son (now 10) sparked the idea for The Mapmaker Chronicles. I’d never written for children, but it was the kind of idea that made me tingle all over, so I thought I’d give it a try. The series has been the most fun I’ve ever had writing anything.

3. What does a typical day look like for you?

I drop my boys at school, walk my dog (aka Procrasti-Pup) for half an hour and then sit at my desk and write (I work on lots of different projects all at once) until 2.45pm when I go to pick the boys up again. You’ll often find me back at my desk at 8.30pm, catching up, particularly if I have freelance article deadlines.


4. Can you describe your workspace for us?

Cluttered. As hard as I try to be neat, my desk is usually a disaster zone. I can’t even take a picture of it, that’s how bad it is, so I’m sharing the view through my french doors instead…


5. Any words of advice for young readers and writers?

For readers: Keep it up! Reading is the best way I know to learn about the world and different ways to think.

For writers:

  1. Use the best words you know to describe things
  2. Don’t forget that every story needs a beginning, a middle and an end
  3. Keep writing. The more words you write, the better you get.

6. Do you have a favourite book or character?

I have lots and lots of favourite books and they change depending on the day. My favourite characters of all time would be Anne of Green Gables, Samwise Gamgee from The Lord Of The Rings, and Hermione Granger from Harry Potter. Anne because she’s curious (and a redhead), Samwise because he’s the best friend ever, and Hermione because she’s always the smartest person in the room.

7. If you were not a creator of books for young people what would you be?

I would be a writer of other things. Or an actor. I always wanted to be a movie star but then I realised that I would need to spend a long time waiting on tables first, and I am a very bad waitress.

8. What is your favourite food to eat and/or your favourite music to listen to whilst you are working on your books?

I don’t tend to eat while I’m writing, mostly because it involves me spending a very long time sitting at my desk and if I ate while I was there it would not be good for my health. I drink lots of water instead. And I never listen to music or anything else while I’m working. I really like it when it’s quiet.

9. How much of yourself or people you know is in your books?

I think every character a writer creates holds some tiny part of him or her, or the people around. Quinn has a little bit of each of my boys in him, but mostly he’s just Quinn.

10. If you could have one wish for the world what would it be?

That we all understand how similar we are and look for the same in each other rather than only seeing the differences.

Book People: A.L. Tait

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Megan Daley Bio

Looking for more great book reviews and recommendations? I’m Megan Daley and you can find out more about me here.

My book recommendations (for babies to young adults) is here and you can peruse ALL of my reviews (searchable by age, genre and theme) here.

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