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Dr Helen Edwards



Date of Success:

I am an Adelaide-based children’s author who weaves diverse stories of nature, magic and history. My debut middle-grade novel, The Rebels of Mount Buffalo was published in October 2023, by the award-winning Riveted Press, distributed by Simon and Schuster. It’s a captivating time-slip tale in which a girl lost to grief meets a daring rebel on a misty mountain who guides her to rediscover her courage and find her way home. In Feb 2024, The Rebels of Mount Buffalo was longlisted in the inaugural DANZ Children’s Book Award for books which feature diversity in all forms. In June 2024, it was shortlisted in the Speech Pathology Australia Book of the Year Awards.


My second novel, Legend of the Lighthouse Moon, will be published on 2nd October 2024 by Riveted Press. It’s a magical historical story for middle-grade. Rich with folklore and brimming with adventure, Legend of the Lighthouse Moon is a dazzling tale of family, resilience, and the enduring magic of the sea. Join Mona McKenna on a journey of self-discovery where the whispers of the past guide her towards a future filled with hope, love, and legends brought to life.


My third novel, a WWII story set in Australia, will release in April 2025 with Riveted Press and my fourth, co-written with Award-winning author Kate Gordon, in August 2025.


I have a PhD in Psychology and a background working in mental health. I write stories that reduce stereotypes and increase understanding of diversity, including characters who live with chronic illness, mental illness, and/or who are neurodivergent. I have lived with type 1 diabetes since 1979. I also live with anxiety and ADHD, both diagnosed in adulthood, as well as a number of other chronic conditions. In 2001, I founded an award-winning online counselling service for people with diabetes, which I ran for 16 years. Over 90,000 people follow me across social media, where my platforms share book reviews and inspire action for people and planet, with kindness and hope, focusing on our children's future.


I have been a finalist in and won a number of awards, including being a South Australian State Finalist for Australian of the Year for my work in diabetes. I was winner of the ZestFest writing competition, a special mention in the inaugural Deep Creek Fellowship, and short-listed in the inaugural SA Literary Fellowship. I am an experienced speaker and have presented talks and workshops locally and internationally across a wide range of topics.


I am passionate about inspiring action for our beautiful, fragile planet and nature features in all my books. I find history fascinating and uncover stories that may have been forgotten, or hidden, and bring them into the light.


During the first period of Covid-19, being a person with chronic conditions, I was extremely scared and isolated, but the benefit was the way the world opened up. Having begun my foray into children's fiction in 2019, securing an agent in September of that year, I had heard about the CYA conference, but being held in Qld, was unsure I would get there - suddenly it was online and I booked straight away for the 2020 conference! I had no idea what I was in for, not having attended such a large conference virtually, but I was not disappointed - it far exceeded my expectations. There was such a rich tapestry of options and I gobbled up every session, from how-to workshops, to inspiring stories of success and informative sessions about the industry.


As an older person starting a journey to traditional publishing, I was filled with self-doubt and nerves about whether I would ever get there. Each session provided me with another stepping stone towards the confidence and support to hang in and reach my dreams. The organisation of this conference is outstanding and the ability to connect with other attendees through break-out rooms, added a much deeper experience. It really felt like you were there in the room together. I was so impressed that I attended again in 2021 and 2022.


Over these years I attended a virtual manuscript assessment, which helped my writing overall in many ways. I also attended a bootcamp which was invaluable. When writing The Rebels of Mount Buffalo, I used my learnings in the development of this manuscript, through numerous sessions of CYA. I am sure that the conference helped propel me towards crafting a story that was recently recognised on the shortlist of the Speech Pathology Australia Book of the Year Awards and the longlist of the Diverse Australia New Zealand Book Awards.


CYA equipped me with confidence, connected me to fellow authors, encouraged me to stick at the pathway to publication, informed me about how to craft a story, how to edit a story and how to prepare it for publication. It made me feel like a valid and important part of the literary community in Australia and the encouragement to believe I was really an author. Attending the 3 years of the CYA has been pivotal in my success!

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