Eliza McCann is the creator of the best-selling kid's travel journal series ‘My Awesome Adventure’, which she conceived while living in Bali with her family. She’s also going to be one of our amazing tutors for the Story Squad holiday workshops!
I was fortunate enough to catch Eliza in her busy schedule to ask a few questions about life in Bali, her Awesome Adventure books, and why journaling is so important for kids.
Tell us the story of how your writing / storytelling journey started?
I always wanted to write a kid’s book and it just so happens that I’m married to a children’s book author. One night we were watching our daughters put on a performance (one of many!) and an idea for a book came about so together we wrote ‘Little Piggy’s Got No Moves’ (Little Hare).
We were living in Bali at the time and we had another idea: to write a travel journal for kids. And the result was ‘My Awesome Bali Adventure’ - a beautifully illustrated book about the Island of the Gods.
You moved the whole family to Bali for 5 years. What inspired you to do that?
Not so much an inspiration. More of a mad whim. My husband had the idea and six weeks later we were on a plane heading to Denpasar with two kids and five suitcases. I hadn’t been to Bali since I went to Club Med Nusa Dua in the late 80s so a fair bit had changed since then!
We were going to stay for 6 months, ayear maximum, and we ended up living there for five years.
What were the best things about living in Bali with the family?
It felt very free living in Bali with the family. The kids would go to school on a motorbike through the rice paddies, we learnt another language, we made friends from all over the world, we travelled around the island and got off the beaten track. We made ourselves a home away from home.
What influence did living there have on your book-writing journey?
There’s no way I would have written and published a book were I living in Australia. Being in Bali gave me the courage and the freedom to take an idea and run with it. The book was so well received from the moment it hit the shops so it was a really positive experience. It encouraged me to do another title in the series.
What inspired you to come up with the idea for the Awesome Adventure books?
I loved the idea of kids getting the most out of travel and I think journaling their experience and writing about their travels is one of the best ways to do that. Through the book, we encourage kids to take in the new sights, sounds and smells that surround them, to become aware of it and write about it.
It’s all about using their imagination, creating stories, visualising themselves on top of mountains, recording their best (and worst) experiences, the foods they ate and the people that they’ve met. It’s about getting them off screens and really taking in the world around them!
We get so much great feedback from parents about the books. They love that kids are putting pen to paper. There’s something wonderful about going back to a journal and seeing what’s been recorded. Journals can be a great snapshot of a kid at a certain age. It’s easy to forget and having written documentation is a wonderful keepsake.
What places have you currently written the books about?
So far, I’ve done books for Bali and Sydney but I’m keen to do New Zealand and Japan next. A good excuse to travel!
What's next on the list?
I’m currently working on a sports journal for kids. As you can probably gather, I’m a strong believer in kids documenting and recording their experiences and I think sport is no different. Journaling gives kids a greater sense of self-awareness (on and off the field or court) and there’s no reason that kids can’t use their imagination with sport… why not write a story about what it’s like to win the World Cup or Wimbledon?
Heading to Bali? Or just keen to explore Sydney like a tourist? You can buy Eliza’s Awesome Adventure books at www.myawesomeadventure.com