Hazel Edwards – her books and so much more
Last week I began a blog series showcasing the books of my friends and colleagues, starting with Errol Broome.
The thing I forgot to mention is that, before beginning my own life as a writer, I worked as a Personal Assistant (these days I think it’s called an Executive Assistant) for mainly oil companies. It was at Shell where I knew Errol’s husband, Michael, but I didn’t learn of Errol’s career for many years.
I left Shell to start my family and when my daughter had went off to school and my son was about to go to kindergarten, I decided to get back into the workforce, planning on working as a secretary in a school to fit in with the kids.
That was the plan!
However, dropping into my parents one day, I happened to pick up the local paper and seeing an advertisement for Hazel Edwards running a one day creative writing workshop at the Balwyn library, I exclaimed, out loud ‘I’d love to do that!’
My dear Mum heard me, (she had no choice) and offered to look after my son for the day. I took the one day class and loved it so much I did not want to be a PA any more.
I often wonder what would have happened if Hazel wasn’t running that class, if I hadn’t called into Mum and Dad’s, if I hadn’t picked up that newspaper . . .closing doors!
So, I will be eternally grateful to Hazel for giving me my start as a writer. Thank you Hazel.
Hazel’s books and achievements are well known and I’ve cheated a little, cutting and pasting from her website. However, this is only a snippet of what she has achieved.
Treat yourself, make a cup of tea, sit down and check out her website.
About Hazel (from her website)
An avid reader (who read under the bedclothes and in the bath), as a young girl, Hazel Edwards wrote her first novel in grade six, a mystery about adventurous children stuck in a mine. This passion for writing continued and after working in a secondary school and lecturing at teachers’ college, aged twenty-seven, Hazel published her first novel, ‘General Store’, a book based on life in a rural town.
It is Hazel’s third published work that is her best known, the children’s picture book classic, ‘There’s a Hippopotamus on Our Roof Eating Cake’. This special imaginary friend has been cherished by children and parents alike and led to the dubious honour of Hazel being referred to as ‘the Hippo Lady’.
Since its publication in 1980, the age-less Hippopotamus on the roof has been reprinted annually, evolved into a series of seven picture books, inspired a junior chapter book, classroom play scripts, a musical stage production and a short movie. The Hippopotamus books have also been translated into Mandarin, Braille and Auslan signing for the hearing impaired and were presented as an official Australian Government gift to the children of Princess Mary of Denmark.
Whilst Hazel loves creating quirky, feisty characters for newly independent readers in her easy-to-read junior chapter books (such as Sleuth Astrid the mind-reading chook), she writes for all ages and has published over 200 books across a range of subjects and genres.
Published titles include ‘ f2m:the boy within’, the first co-written, young adult novel about gender transition, picture book Stickybeak and the Hijabi Girl series.
Hazel has collaborated with experts to publish adult non-fiction titles such as such as ‘ Difficult Personalities’ (now translated into six languages), and helps people craft non- boring memoirs and family histories in her popular workshops based on her book ‘ Writing a Non- Boring Family History”. More recently ‘Complete Your Book in a Year‘ has been offered via Zoom.
Awarded the Australian Antarctic Division Arts Fellowship (2001),Hazel travelled to Casey Station on the ‘Polar Bird’ ice-ship. This visit inspired a range of creative projects including the young adult eco-thriller ‘Antarctica’s Frozen Chosen’, picture book ‘ Antarctic Dad’ and the memoir, ‘ Antarctic Writer on Ice’ as well as classroom playscripts and adult literacy material such as ‘Shooting Antarctica‘
A fan of interesting and unusual locations, Hazel has been a guest writer- in- residence at the former Fremantle Prison (now the Fremantle Children’s Literature Centre), the Mt Newman mining community in outback WA, a visiting author to Pasir Ridge International School in East Kalimantan, Indonesia and an author ambassador to Youfu West Street International School in Nanjing, China.
These places inspired Hazel’s books.
Passionate about literacy and creativity, Hazel has mentored gifted children and proudly held the title of Reading Ambassdor for various organisations. Formerly a director on the Committee of Management of the Australian Society of Authors, Hazel was awarded an OAM for Literature in 2013. Currently she’s patron of the Society of Women Writers(Vic)
A keynote speaker, Hazel has been involved in web-chats or Zoomed or Skyped internationally as a way of sharing books, ideas and encouraging literacy. She has even been a ‘Living Book’ online, to answer questions.
Downloadable bio of Hazel for organisers under Media Resources.
Married to Garnet, with two adult children , Hazel writes a new story for her four grandsons each birthday.