Ever wanted to go to Rio?

How to get to Rio from cover

Australian children’s and young adult author, Julie Fison, has a new book out this month called How To Get To Rio. It’s part of a cool new Choose Your Own Ever After series that lets the reader decide how the story goes. I have loved this concept ever since I read The French Lieutenant’s Woman which had three possible endings.  How To Get To Rio has seven possible endings – I can’t wait to explore them!  So today I have invited Julie to share with us a little about her latest book and upcoming projects.

Tell us more how this series works

Julie:  The Choose Your Own Ever After series is a very positive series for tweens. The reader has a series of choices to make throughout the story, and with every decision, there’s a consequence. There are no nasty endings in this series, but the message is clear – choice, not chance, determines our future. Opportunities might come our way by chance, but it’s what we choose to do with them, that is important.

That’s so true!

And what about your new book?

Julie:  The series kicks off with Hot, Cold Summer by Nova Weetman and my story, How To Get To Rio. In this one, schoolgirl Kitty McLean has to choose between going camping with her best friends or going to an exclusive beach resort with popular-girl Persephone. She wants to spend the holidays with her besties but she also wants to get to know Persephone better. The beach holiday has an added attraction – the very cute Rio, is going to be there. The decision is the first of many choices Kitty has to make in the book.

How did the pick-a-path format differ from other books you have written?

Julie:  In the other stories I have written, the main character comes up against a problem early on in the story, and spends the rest of the book trying to resolve it. How To Get To Rio is basically seven short stories in one, but they all evolve from the same opening chapters. That meant a lot of threads had to be woven into the opening chapters so they could all unfold in different paths. The plotting was a big challenge! But I had fun working out where equally appealing choices would lead. I’d love to backtrack on my own life and work out where I would have ended up if I had decided not to leave Australia at the age of 21 looking for adventure!

Where does your writing inspiration come from?

Julie:  I was a television news reporter for many years, but the idea of writing fiction crept up on me during a family holiday on the Noosa River, in Queensland. My sons teamed up with friends and spent the holidays exploring sandbanks, dodging stingrays, building camps, avoiding snakes and generally having a boys’-own adventure. I was inspired. The result was a series of adventure stories for young readers called Hazard River. The books are fast-paced and fun with an environmental twist.

Every beach holiday and camping trip I’ve ever been on – as a girl and as a mother – is in How to get to Rio. It’s essentially about friendship, but it’s also full of family food fights, leech attacks, shopping expeditions, beach soccer and of course boys. It’s action-packed!

Noosa was also the inspiration for the first of my books for young adults – Tall Dark and Distant. The next – Lust and Found – is set in Cambodia, another of my favourite destinations.  I visited the country many years ago, so I did a lot of research to update my knowledge when I wrote Lust and Found, and I was seduced by the place all over again. I knew I had to go back.

IMG_0896So, last year, when my son did a volunteer project at an orphanage in Cambodia, the whole family tagged along. We spent almost a week in Siem Reap visiting the Angkor Wat Archeological Park. It was certainly busier than it had been on my last visit. Bus loads of tourists pour in to the park every day, but it’s still possible to get away from the crowds in the massive sprawling complex of temples. And Angkor Wat at sunset is stunning, even if you have to share the experience with hundreds of others! 

(Read Julie’s blog on her trip to Angkor Wat here: It is an enthralling place to visit.)

What’s next for you?

Julie: I have another book in the Choose Your Own Ever After series coming out in July – The Call of The Wild. I’m very excited about this one because the main character, nature-loving Phoebe, has to choose between going to a party with her friends or helping at a save-the-orangutan fund raiser. The topic is close to my heart because I spent time in Borneo many years ago, and was blown away by the orangutans at the Sepilok Sanctuary near Sandakan. At that time you could walk into the forest, and the orangutans would appear out of nowhere when the ranger arrived with a bucket of fruit. One cheeky orangutan opened my friend’s money belt and ate her cash, another grabbed onto my hand and wouldn’t let go. It wasn’t easy to escape! 

As I was editing The Call of The Wild, an interview on the radio caught my attention. Orangutan rescuer and campaigner, Lone Dröscher Nielsen, was in Australia to promote her rehabilitation work in Borneo. Lone quit her job as a flight attendant in 1999 and moved to Borneo to help save wild orangutans from extinction. Since then she has established the world’s biggest reserve for these incredible animals.

When I checked out the website, I discovered that the foundation was looking for supporters to adopt a baby orangutan called ‘Julie’. Julie. It was a surprise, not just because we shared a first name, but also because people don’t call their babies Julie anymore. (It sure was big in the 60s, but now – not so much.) That’s what I call synchronicity!

 I knew I had to do something. And here’s why:

Thousands of orangutans are lost each year as their rainforest habitat is destroyed by logging, forest fires, plantations and mining. This could lead to the extinction of one of the world’s four species of great apes – one of our most intelligent and peaceful relatives.

(Save the orangutan website

CounterfeitLove_3Dmockup smallMy other book for this year is a story for young adults – Counterfeit Lovea tale of ambition, power, deadlines and romance, set in Hong Kong. Counterfeit Love comes out in July. I hope you enjoy it!

I’m really looking forward to that one as I loved living in Hong Kong and can’t wait to see how you’ve brought that to life. Same with your Borneo story 🙂


Julie:  Thank you for having me on your blog, Sherryl. I loved Seldom Come By and I am looking forward to the sequel!

See Julie Fison’s books and blog at

Buy How To Get To Rio at Boomerang Books

Follow Julie’s Blog Tour

Sherryl Caulfield

Kids’ Book Review


Dim’s Write Stuff

Cereal Readers

Bug in a Book

Buzz Words

The Book Chook





The stuff of dreams


iceberg 1I have done some unforgettable kayaking and canoeing trips in my time, skimming across blue green prisms of water, trailing stunning coastlines and river banks, spying on nature in its quiet solitude.

I remember one December sea-kayaking alongside Freycinet National Park in Tasmania; one moment we battled fierce headwinds as we tried to round a rocky headland;  the next, a millpond in front of us where large stingrays appeared suspended below. One Easter, holidaying on Steward Island (New Zealand), we kayaked up Patterson Inlet. There, I encountered my first ever elephant seal. It was in a shallow bay, sighing and huffing so heavily I thought it must be a she, and in labour. Another time, we rafted down the fast-flowing snow-swollen Sunkosi River in Nepal. And, during one magical northern summer, in a Canadian canoe, we paddled the Bowron Lakes in British Columbia, a natural, 116 km quadrangle of rivers and lakes at 2,000 metres altitude on the edge of the Rocky Mountains. It’s deservedly one of the top 10 classic canoe circuits in the world. We drifted beside long-legged moose munching on sweet bulrushes; we saw the telltale signs of beaver homes. That trip made its way in to Books 2 and 3 of The Iceberg Trilogy.

But quite possibly, this all pales in comparison to the recent experience Jennifer Byrne had sea kayaking along the South-east coast of Greenland, near the 80th parallel.  She writes about in her article, Out in the Cold, in the March issue of Qantas’ in-flight magazine.

Reading her account, I felt awe and envy. How do you capture the expanse and grace and otherworldliness of such a place? I think she comes close.

These kayak trips become the stuff of dreams. It is the silence, most of all. The blissful hush as we paddle through the still water, broken only by the splash of seals breaking the surface. The flapping wings of birds. The groan of glaciers and the warning crack of an iceberg about to overturn. We see everything more closely, away from the crowd and constant hum of the ship’s motors. … We paddle, then drift, then paddle again, turning circles around icebergs. … We learn how it feels to be in a world other than the one we know. My sharpest memory is of the silence shattered by gunfire, shot after echoing shot, in reality the sound of ice as the mighty Greenland ice sheet shifts, flows, settles – a living thing, 3 km deep at its centre – the sound of the Earth going about its business.

What about yourself? Have you had some amazing adventures out on the water? And what do you think about the pic above? It really is amazing how deep that ice sheet is.