Sue-Ellen Pashley has wanted to be an author since she was 10 years old.
She began her dream with a simple love of reading and writing.
“I’ve always been a big reader,” Ms Pashley says.
“I always wrote, even as a kid.”
These days the 46-year-old Gladstone-based writer has published five books and considers her dream to have been realised.
Her first book, Aquila, was first published in Australia in 2015, and is a young adult paranormal romance novel.
In 2017 the book was published in Germany under the name On the Precipice of Heaven, giving Pashley her first taste of international success.
She then went on to have three more novels published in Australia, When Henry Met Gina, The Jade Goddess and Streamer (2016).
But it’s Pashley’s latest book, a children’s picture book called The Jacket, which just might prove to be her most successful work to date.
Published in Australia by Walker Books in May 2019, The Jacket has just been published in the United Kingdom and is due to be published in the United States by the end of the year.
Pashley says she met renowned Australian children’s author Mem Fox when she was at school, and the meeting spearheaded her ambition to become an author and share her stories with the world.
“Mem Fox came to our school in Grade Five,” she explains.
“She was the main inspiration for me as a kid.
“Meeting an author, it just made sense in my head that that’s something I could do.”
Pashley knew she could write, and that started her on a path of writing stories and wanting to share them with the world.
“I decided that I needed to see if I could finish a book,” she says.
From there, Pashley simply continued to write and hone her skills in the hope of becoming a writer.
“I went and got feedback, then learned the craft,” she says.
“The writing community is a very supportive community, and I got an opportunity for a workshop/mentor type weekend,” Pashley says.
“Getting that feedback and being able to learn the craft, that was really helpful.”
Pashley says she studied literature at Central Queensland University not exclusively as a way to further her author aspirations, but as a way to better understand and grasp Australian literature.
“Literature was an interesting course, we looked at Australian literature,” she explains.
As part of her promotion of The Jacket, Pashley has been travelling to primary schools in Brisbane and around Central Queensland.
But she says the visits are more about inspiring the next generation of writers in the same way that Mem Fox inspired her, rather than about promoting her book.
Pashley says Mem Fox isn’t the only significant influence on the way she writes.
Pashley also works as a social worker for Gladstone Women’s Health, where she regularly counsels teenagers.
She says believes this background is evident in her writing.
Her novels convey an excellent sense of relationship depth and building, as well as emotional weight and feeling.
“It probably helps me to understand emotions a lot better, particularly deep or intense ones, grief or anger, hurt,” Pashley says.
Despite being a published author, Pashley says no matter how many published works you have, there is no a guarantee that your next book will be published.
She says she was given the opportunity to pitch The Jacket to a publisher while at a writers’ conference in Brisbane.
“A publisher said she liked it, and wanted to publish,” she says.
“Getting feedback and learning the techniques is the best thing to do.”
At the moment, Pashley is working to promote The Jacket, while also juggling her commitments as a social worker and her family life.
She has also written a short story for an anthology of dragon stories, called Hoards of the Great Fire Wyrms, which has just been released.
Pashley is a mother of three, and while two of her children have moved out of home, there are still many aspects of life to balance.
“It’s really hard to juggle work and life, it’s really hard, but you get on with it.”
But no matter how busy she gets, Pashley says she will continue to write and pitch new stories.
“It’s very exciting, that’s what we work for, there’s nothing like being told your work going to published,” Pashley says.