Wednesday, March 2nd, 2011 - Leigh van den Broeke, Australian children's author
Leigh van den Broeke says the most fun part of his publishing journey was telling his cricket team he’d written a novel. “The guys couldn’t believe I’d actually written a book. They said, ‘Is it a proper book? Does it have pictures?’”

The young author certainly doesn’t fit the mould of the stereotypical writer – or the average 26-year-old. “I’m the only person I know who plays cricket, watches the footy, drinks beer, lifts weights and then goes home and reads Jane Austen, Truman Capote and Alexandre Dumas,” he says.

Leigh’s first novel, When the Gates open for Casey Vallen, is an action-packed coming-of-age story. Its hero, Casey Vallen, has just turned 12 and must now begin a new life in a land of magic. But first, he has to prove himself to the Elders of Gatiso – and to himself.

The novel starts in the quiet suburb of Lily Hills, based loosely on Cherrybrook in Sydney’s north-west where Leigh grew up. He studied writing at university but it wasn’t until a few years later, while working in sales, that Leigh felt compelled to write down the story that had been kicking around in his head.

Leigh has a passion for good storytelling. “Stories always draw me in. I remember reading The Hobbit and being so impressed at how JRR. Tolkein had created an entire world within those pages. I remember watching Indiana Jones as a kid and loving the adventurous nature of those films. I remember reading Roald Dahl’s BFG and truly believing there were giants out there in the world. Even listening to songs on the radio, the bands are still just telling a story in a different kind of way,” he says.

Leigh hopes to grab the imaginations of young readers and hopefully encourage them to continue reading. He says, “Writing for children is such a huge responsibility. According to Morris Gleitzman, if a child reads their first book and doesn’t like the story they could actually be turned off reading for the rest of their life. So I made When the Gates open for Casey Vallen as bright, exciting and mysterious as I could to entertain young readers.

“I wanted the story to be fast-paced, I wrote short and punchy chapters (260 pgs/ 52 chapters). I wanted the characters to make people laugh, so I created Casey’s friend Donny, and to me he’s a riot! I wanted the story to have a message, so I developed the idea that magic is everywhere. I hope people can add their own significance to that idea; whether magic is a metaphor for love, hope, truth or“I wanted the story to be fast-paced, so I wrote short and punchy chapters (260 pages with 52 chapters). I wanted the characters to make people laugh, so I created Casey’s friend Donny, and to me he’s a riot! I wanted the story to have a message, so I developed the idea that magic is everywhere. I hope people can add their own significance to that idea; whether magic is a metaphor for love, hope, truth or spirituality. To me, magic is whatever you want it to be, wherever you want it to be!”

When the Gates open for Casey Valley is the first of a four-part series.

Leigh is available for interviews.

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Sarah Sheppard

P: 07 5492 4921
M: 0418 733 125
W: www.leighvdb.com.au

Keywords

leigh van den broeke, childens author, when the gates open for casey vallen, nsw, my marketing manager, cricket

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