Local literacy icon
Manly’s multi-award-winning author, Belinda Murrell, is striving to create a positive space for young writers, helping them find their creative voice.
Writing since the age of eight, Belinda is continuing her legacy as an author, with a strong history of writers in the family spanning over two hundred years.
With now thirty-seven books published and an impressive list of awards to go with it, she spends much of her time working in schools around the Northern Beaches and Australia teaching the importance of reading and writing.
“I love visiting schools and encouraging kids of all ages to have fun reading and writing stories,” Belinda says.
“All the research shows that kids who read for pleasure, do so much better academically across all subjects, and that success carries through into adulthood.
“Reading for fun also helps kids develop valuable traits such as empathy, creativity, problem solving and emotional intelligence.”
With many of her books inspired by her own childhood and travel adventures, Belinda recognises the significance of harnessing memories, experiences, family stories and beliefs, especially during adolescence.
Her creative writing workshops aim to encourage imagination through brainstorming, interactive exercises, tips, and writing techniques.
“It’s really important to encourage kids to love reading from a very young age," the Manly local says.
"Writing stories also allows them to develop their creativity and, more importantly, gives them the ability to articulate their ideas and thoughts later down the track. The key is to show kids that writing can be exciting, and not a boring chore."
Belinda usually speaks to thousands of students at festivals, libraries, conferences, and literary events around Australia each year.
“It is so exciting to be back teaching in schools and speaking at literary events after the last two years of lockdowns,” she says.
“I’ve really missed the close interaction with young readers.”
For ten years, Belinda organised ‘Lunch with the Stars’ in Manly, where nearly 200 Northern Beaches primary students met favourite local authors and celebrated books. She has also been a judge for several local young writers’ competitions.
“The Northern Beaches has an incredibly talented community of writers creating books for children and teenagers, and we are all very supportive of each other,” Belinda says.
Having grown up on the North Shore and lived on the Northern Beaches for the last thirty years, Belinda attributes the ‘vibrant Beaches community’ to her creativity and ability to shape narratives and characters in her stories.
An avid traveller, she stresses the importance of disconnecting from the real world and motivates people to pick up a book and ‘disengage from our busy lives on the Peninsula’.
As the world begins to open back up, Belinda says she is excited to go away and find inspiration for new books and discover more of what the world has to offer.
Despite working a variety of other jobs spanning her lifetime, ranging from a waitress in an Austrian ski resort to a vet nurse, Belinda emphasises with confidence that she has one of the most rewarding jobs in the world.
"The best part about my job is when I get letters from my readers who say what a massive impact my books have had on their lives; it's just an incredible feeling."
With her recently having been appointed the festival director for the Writing NSW 2022 Kids and YA festival in June, Belinda is showing no signs of stopping.
Spurred by her amazing sense of community, she plans to keep reading, writing, and teaching.