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Fiona White



Date of Success:

Fiona White is a primary school teacher and writer who lives in the Macedon Ranges in Victoria. She has been studying the craft of writing for many years. Fiona took part in the QWC/Allen & Unwin Mentorship program in 2010, and won a Maurice Saxby Mentorship in 2015. Her short story, A New Home, was published in the Growing Up In Country Australia anthology, published by Black Inc. But getting a publishing deal with a children's book remained elusive until a CYA assessment with Kate Stevens from Hachette in 2021. The assessment didn't lead immediately to an offer of publication, but it started a conversation. That conversation led to many emails back and forth about a picture book manuscript Fiona had written called, Wear a Purple Poppy. In January 2022 Fiona signed a contract with Hachette and, in January 2024, her picture book, Wear a Purple Poppy hit the shelves.


I had dreamed of attending the CYA Conference for many years but, living in Victoria and working fulltime, with a family, kept that being just a one-day-I'll-do-that-dream. Then the pandemic came along and carved that big chasm into our world where so many things changed. One wonderful thing amongst all those changes was that the CYA Conference went online. I was so excited to be able to sign up. I've attended each year online since and have had the opportunity to chat with many editors and get some very useful feedback about the manuscripts I'm working on. I've learnt to see these sessions as part of the growth of the manuscript, and me as a writer. They are a chance to be immersed in a world that I love. I get to hear from the experts and get to meet other writers and dreamers. Getting the offer of publication and then seeing my book on the shelves has been so exciting. I've been able to chat about it with groups of kids, do an online talk with the wonderful YABBA organisation and go into libraries. That short nervous chat with Kate Stevens led to a dream coming true. It's also made me very determined to keep working on my craft and to know that this world of writing and books is exactly where I want to be and where I'll keep striving to produce work that the publishers see potential in. It's not an easy industry, I've certainly learnt that through many rejections over the years, but I think if books and writing are your secret world then CYA is exactly the portal you need to step right in.

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