Local author Julia Lawrinson puts Maddie in the Middle

Julia Lawrinson.
Julia Lawrinson.

THERE were not many books in the house Maylands author Julia Lawrinson grew up in as an only child, so she read everything she could lay her hands on.

“I loved books based on real life best – Little House on the Prairie, Seven Little Australians, Judy Blume, old medical encyclopaedias, Reader’s Digest – but also loved Dr Who books, Enid Blyton and Douglas Adams,” Lawrinson said.

“I love connecting with kids through stories and I write the kinds of books I would have wanted to read at that age.

“I have very strong memories of those years, and I think that helps me relate to what kids go through; learning how to fit in, making friends, working out what kind of person you want to be. Dealing with the joy and difficulties that go with being human.”

Lawrinson’s newest book is Maddie in the Middle, released through Fremantle Press for ages 10 to 14 years.

Maddie is a girl in Year 6 who is longing to feel special and feels inadequate when she compares herself with her best friend Katy.

So when mysterious new girl Samara comes to school, Maddie wants to become her friend, but Samara has a secret.

“Everything that happens in the novel unfolds because of Maddie’s lack of confidence in herself, and because she’s comparing herself to others,” Lawrinson said.

“I could really see Maddie when I was writing her; I could understand why she was making the decisions she made.”

The book deals with shoplifting and was inspired by a surprising conversation Lawrinson had with a friend who said her daughter had done it.

“Shoplifting used to be a rite of passage when I was a kid and was a thing kids dared each other to do, in the days before CCTV and shop security,” she said.

“I thought about the kinds of things that influence kids to decide whether to do something naughty, particularly in those primary years.

“Because I’d done some work in criminal law when I was doing my law degree, I saw that the majority of people who ended up in serious trouble as adults started with petty crime.

“I don’t know statistically, but I suspect those late primary and early high school days are risky, where peer group pressure is so strong.”

Maddie in the Middle is in stores now.

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