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Jo Sandhu



Date of Success:

Growing up, Jo was sure she was going to be a Shakespearean actress or a pianist, and gained her Associate Diploma in Speech and Drama. However, on leaving school she spent a year in Finland as a Rotary Exchange Student before returning to Australia and working in banking and HR.


These days she is a writer, a personal carer, and volunteers at her sons' sporting clubs. Her short stories have been highly commended in numerous competitions, including the FAW Mary Grant Bruce Award for Children’s Literature, and the CYA Later Alligator Competition (Brisbane) in both the Children’s and YA sections. She is a member of Queensland Writers Centre and the Society of Children’s Book Writers and Illustrators.


Jo currently lives in the Tweed Valley in Northern NSW with her family and enjoys cooking, travelling and reading.


Image: (c) Sarjit Singh


You can visit Jo on her FB page:


Update: This year has been a HUGE one for Jo!


Since the last conference, two more books in the Tarin of the Mammoth series have been published:


Clan of Wolves in October 2017 and Cave Bear Mountain in March 2018.


Book One, The Exile, is a CBCA Notable for 2018; it's on the NSW and QLD Premier's Reading Challenge; been a finalist in the Aurealis Awards for Best Children's Science Fiction, Fantasy and Horror Book; and it's won the 2018 Reading's Children's Book Prize.



I have attended the CYA Conference many times since it first started, and each time I do, I learn something new. I have found the feedback from the competitions invaluable and the chance to speak one-to-one with publishers and agents has been the best investment I could have made towards my goal of being a published author. Naturally not all submissions end in a contract, but with each experience I take another step forward, then another, then another.


It was in 2014 that I presented Tarin of the Mammoths to Katrina Lehman of Penguin Australia. She was already familiar with my writing, as she had read my winning YA entry from some years previously and we had communicated sporadically. She was happy to request my full manuscript and a short time later emailed me with those wonderful words: we are interested in publishing your book. It has taken until 2017 to finally see Tarin of the Mammoths: The Exile on the shelves, but by this time 2018, Clan of Wolves and Cave Bear Mountain will also be released.


The CYA Conference has always been very special to me and I cannot thank the wonderful team of organisers and support crew enough.


Jo Sandhu


At last… the book that we saw in the CYA Conference competition as sketches….


In the Lion has been released by Walker Books.


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