Justin D’Ath is the author of about 50 books for children and young adults, including the hugely popular Extreme Adventures, translated into 6 languages and adapted for TV. Other books include the Lost World Circus and Mission Fox series. Justin’s latest book is Cooper.
Justin's contemporary fantasy novel, Pool, was shortlisted in the 2008 Victorian Premier's Awards and was a CBC Notable Book in 2008. Several of his books have been shortlisted in the YABBA, KOALA and BILBY Awards, and his picture book Dinosaur Dreaming (illustrated by Mike Spoor) won the Picture Book of the Year, selected by children, in the 2012 Big Read Competition.
One of twelve children, Justin
grew up on a farm in Otaki, New Zealand. He wrote
his first book, a ten page cartoon about his pet
turtle, Bubble, when he was nine years old. His
next cartoon was about Moriarty, his guinea pig,
and filled a complete exercise book. When he was
eleven, Justin began writing his first novel,
but conked out after 35 pages.
Justin has always been a story
teller. When he was a boy, he and his brothers
Billy and Philip made up stories to tell each
other after they went to bed at night. Justin
continued this tradition when he had children
of his own, reading them stories at bedtime, or
making up tales featuring his daughter and son,
Fiona and Tim, as the heroes.
Justin’s first publication was
a monthly cartoon strip in a magazine, which he used
to draw in his tent while he travelled around Australia
on a motorbike. His first book, a novel for adults called
The Initiate, was published
in 1989 and won three awards. His adult short stories
have been published in 18 countries and have won 54
For twenty years Justin wrote
only for adults - in addition to his other jobs:
driving forklifts, building cars, picking fruit,
mustering cattle, mining for iron, working in
a laboratory, being a club manager in an Aborigine
settlement, working in a sugar mill and teaching
Professional Writing at TAFE.
It was his daughter, Fiona, who introduced
him to contemporary children’s books. Despite
his writing background, it took Justin another ten years
to try his hand at it.
Of his many books for children,
Justin says ‘I laugh aloud at the unexpected
things my characters say and do. I don’t
plan. I simply invent a character, usually between
ten and fourteen years old, put her or him in
an unusual (or scary!) situation, and start speaking
in her, or his, voice. For me it’s a natural
process. Part of me doesn’t seem to have
And of his audience, Justin says: ‘My
main message is, Enjoy reading.
I want children to become lost in my books; to experience
the magic of the written word; to see that reading is
not a chore, it’s one of the most exciting, imaginative
and enjoyable things they can do.’