With over three quarters of a million books sold in Australia and New Zealand, Susannah McFarlane is the author of some of Australia's most popular children's and tween fiction series, including EJ12 Girl Hero, Boy vs Beast and Little Mates.
While writing stories that kids love to read, Susannah is passionate about creating positve role models for her young readers – so whether it's a girl hero foiling evil plots, a boy border guard saving the world from rampaging beasts or a kind koala doing good deeds, all of her stories feature heroes.
EJ12 Girl Hero is Australia's most popular adventure series for young girls – with over a quarter of million books sold and a fan base of thousands interacting daily with the website – this series has really struck a chord with young girls at a crucial time.
-I created EJ12 because I couldn't find books for my daughter featuring girls as the hero rather than the sidekick,' Susannah says.
-What I'm hearing now from the thousands of girls that contact me is that they're starting to get this message – they're starting to believe they can kick the winning goal, skipper the boat or run the country.'
But at a time when the media is inundated with negative discourse about women and unhealthy female role models, Susannah feels it's time to place real girl heroes firmly back in the spotlight.
-We need to show our girls that there are lots of girl heroes, more often. We need to show them 'girl power" is more than just a slogan – it's a reality.'
To celebrate the release of Time to Shine, Susannah will be doing a series of -Code Cracking and Hero Hunting' events with children around the country.
EJ12 Girl Hero Time to Shine
Author: Susannah McFarlane
Question: Can you tell us about EJ12 Girl Hero Time to Shine?
Susannah McFarlane: EJ12 Girl Hero is a spy-adventure series with a twist for young girls. In each book, the hero, Emma Jacks tackles both an issue at home (mean girls, stage-fright, annoying older brother) and also, as the SHINE Agency's Agent EJ12, foils a plot by the evil SHADOW agency. TIME TO SHINE is Book 16 in the series and is a special 'flash-back' book with Emma Jacks thinks back to the time when she was first recruited to the SHINE Agency.
Question: What inspired the creation of the EJ12 Girl Hero series?
Susannah McFarlane: I wanted to write an adventure series for young girls. I wanted them to see that girls could do the same sort of stuff boys do in books - swing through trees, fly planes, parachute, drive speedboats - even save the world.
Question: How do you ensure your books promote a positive role models for young readers?
Susannah McFarlane: I think by giving the main character, Emma, and her friends the values I feel are important - loyalty, kindness, commitment and giving her the courage to stand by those values. Girls respond to Emma/EJ's courage. One of the underlying messages in the book is that courage does not mean you don't get scared or nervous - it means you do but still stand up and do the right thing even though you are scared. That's what I think makes a hero
Question: Does your daughter inspire the characters of the EJ12 Girl Hero series?
Susannah McFarlane: She certainly did initially. She was nine years old when I started writing the series and Emma is very much based on her - and a little of me when I was little.
Question: What's next for the EJ12 Girl Hero series?
Susannah McFarlane: The next book in the EJ12 series is Book 17, Spooked!, EJ's scariest mission yet. EJ and her spy-buddies travel to England to investigate thefts that seem to have been carried out by a ghost - nothing is as it seems. It will be released in October for Halloween! After that EJ will be off to Italy. I'm still writing this one and having lots of fun with pizza spy-charms!
Interview by Brooke Hunter