Students learn the write stuff

WRITING 13 young adult novels in three-and-a-half years took regimented discipline for James Phelan.

The Melbourne author visited Warrnambool yesterday, speaking to more than 800 students about his latest series, The Last Thirteen.

Acknowledged as one of Australia’s most successful young novelists, Phelan held four sessions at Brauer College, talking to primary and secondary school students from across the south-west.

The sessions were organised by Warrnambool Books and Phelan talked about becoming a writer and the monthly release of each book in the 13-part series.

Warrnambool Books sales representative Kelly Curran said Phelan’s talks were excellent.

“He was very good at engaging with the kids,” she said.

Phelan said his desire to become an author was born from a love of reading.

“By year 11 I knew my dream job was to become a novelist,” he said.

With a masters degree in writing and a PhD in Literature, Phelan had his first book published at 25.

He has written five thrillers for adults and a young adult trilogy before completing the The Last Thirteen series.

“Since 2006 I’ve had a novel published each year,” he said.

The Last Thirteen series is about a group of teens battling for control over a dreamworld.

Each book will be released monthly and book 10 will be released today.

“It’s a series for young adult and teenagers,” Phelan said.

“It’s all about the dreamworld and a race to control it.”

Phelan said his publisher Scholastic let him do whatever he wanted.

“I signed up in 2010 and it has taken me the past three-and-a-half years to write and edit all 13 books in the series,” he said.

“Discipline is the absolute key.

‘‘I’m writing these books to potentially find the biggest audience I possibly can.”

Phelan has a strong connection with Warrnambool and the south-west, having spent time in the region as a child and teenager with his grandmother Shirley Phelan.

“It was fantastic to come back,” he said.

“I love the area. All my life up until I was 15 I would come down every school holidays.’’

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