Thursday 17 May 2018

Meet Our Members: Melissa Gijsbers

Each Thursday in 2018 we will be interviewing one of the members of Christian Writers Downunder – to find out a little bit more about them and their writing/editing goals.

Today interview Melissa Gijsbers

Question 1: Tells us three things about who you are and where you come from.

I was born in Melbourne, Australia. My dad was a forester, so we moved around quite a bit when I was a kid, including spending three years in Nepal. My parents would joke that they finally stopped moving so they wouldn't have any other kids! (I'm the oldest of 4 kids, each born in a different place).

My dad is dutch and my mum is Australian. My dad came to Australia when he was 3, and the way my surname is spelled is thanks to the people in immigration!

I am currently a single mum with two teenage boys, both with chronic health conditions. They are a constant source of inspiration for my writing, even if they don't mean to be!

Question 2: Tell us about your writing (or editing/illustrating etc).  What do you write and why?

Writing is something I have always done. I won a couple of awards in high school, including enough money to buy a dictaphone! Most recently, I started writing picture books before discovering chapter books. I've found that I can write chapter books much easier than picture books! I have also been playing around with writing some novels for grown ups.

For the why... it's just something I do. Words and books have always been something I'm interested in and there are times I get quite restless if I can't write.

Question 3: Who has read your work? Who would you like to read it?

So many people have read my books. It amazes me when I see a photo or a review of someone reading one of my books and I didn't know they had even bought a copy!

Most of the people who have read them so far are kids, but there are also a lot of parents, teachers, and others who have read them too.

For the books that I've published, I would love to reach more kids. Especially for my first two books, both 'issues books', to show kids that there are others who deal with the same issues they do. I also want to reach anyone who would like to read a good story.

Question 4: Tell us something about your process. What challenges do you face? What helps you the most?

I find that I work best with a deadline, as well as someone working with me, usually an editor. This extra person is someone I'm accountable who will say 'where's that next draft you promised me?'

My biggest challenges is time. With a day job and two kids, writing time is precious. Different things work at different times. It could be working at my favourite cafe, or writing during my lunch break, or any other strange times I can get a few minutes.

Question 5: What is your favourite Writing Craft Book and why?

One of my favourite writing craft books is Writing Hannah: On Writing for Children by Libby Gleeson. In this book, Libby Gleeson (one of my favourite authors when I was a teenager) shares the process of writing one of her books based on her diaries and notes during this time.

I like how it's not giving a formula on how to write that may or may not work for everyone, instead, she shares her process, including the times when she couldn't work out what the next part of the story was and when things needed changing. Her process is something that is closer to my own process in that the whole book isn't planned to every detail, instead she starts with an idea and writes to see where it goes.

Question 6: If you were to give a shout-out to a CWD author, writer, editor or illustrator – who would they be?

Lately, I have really enjoyed the books by Nicki Edwards. They are great books to read and I have them all!

I also have a general shout out to the CWD team. They have been really supportive of me and my writing goals while I've been caring for two sick children.

Question 7: What are your writing goals for 2018? How will you achieve them?

One goal I have is to publish another book this year, although the more realistic one is to get one ready to publish early in 2019! I also want to publish some more 'how to' ebooks for authors with small business tips. I currently have one published, I just need to edit and polish some that I have sitting on my hard drive.

Question 8: How does your faith impact and shape your writing?

This is always a hard question for me to answer. I write stories that are more for the general market, however my faith colours the issues that I write about. Many of my stories are based on my own journey and characters will attend church, mostly because it's just part of what we do! I also write stories and take part in promotions that line up with my values.

Melissa Gijsbers lives in Melbourne with her two teenage sons. During the day she works in the family business and by night she writes stories for kids and adults. She has three middle grade books published.

You can find her at and on Facebook or Twitter.


  1. I think you are doing a wonderful job Melissa in caring for two boys who have health challenges but managing to find time to write in spite of a day job too. That is amazing! Well done on your books and all the best with your next project. May you continue to find time to write - it's great that writing seems to be very much a part of you. All power to your pen!

  2. Great post, Melissa - Love the cover of Lizzy's Dragon and also you determination to keep writing. Thanks for taking the time to tell us something about you and your writing.