Cristy Burne shares how her Nan inspired a new adventure story for junior readers called Into the Blue

Children’s publisher Cate Sutherland says she loves the way Cristy Burne’s Into the Blue combines a snorkelling adventure with real-life conundrums that kids face every day. We asked Cristy to share more about the book’s themes and her writing process.

Tell us about your latest book and why you wrote it.

My latest book is Into the Blue and it follows the misadventures of Blair, who makes a terrible mistake while he’s snorkelling at the beach. Blair knows he’s messed up, but he’s so paralysed by his guilt and fear of discovery, he can’t begin to make things right.

I wrote Into the Blue because I could see how my own kids were struggling with telling the truth and owning their own actions … especially after something relatively small begins to spiral into a much larger lie.

I also wanted to honour the wisdom of old people, and specifically my Nan, who turned 98 while I was writing this book. I visited Nan once a week for many years and always felt her unconditional love. Nan’s room was always a safe space where I was never judged or frowned upon. There’s a scene in the book (page 48) where Nan asks about Blair’s day. Her proud response to Blair’s answer always lights up my heart: that’s how Nan made me feel whenever we talked.

Finally, I wanted to write an adventurous book where the adventure was accessible for ordinary kids. For Aussie children, that often means going to the beach, getting out your snorkel and being brave enough to discover the worlds that lie under the surface.

Your book explores something children don’t always know how to deal with. The concept of shame. Why write about that?

I think we all know that feeling that creeps up when you know you should be doing something, but you just can’t bring yourself to do it.

Kids feel this when it comes to doing their homework, cleaning their room or helping around the house.

I feel this when I delay and delay chores like cooking dinner, doing my writing work, answering emails … I feel it as a hollow feeling of disappointment, of letting myself down. For me, it’s a poison that can deflate my whole day. The solution, at least for me, is to do the thing I least want to do first. Then I’m set up to feel proud and happy all day long.

In writing Into the Blue, I wanted to explore procrastination, this toxic self-sabotage that we all fall into. I wanted to show kids (including my own 😬) that sometimes, doing the thing you dread most is the fastest way to feeling better.

In Into the Blue, Blair has made a simple mistake, but it’s one with irreversible consequences. Despite all the adventure and all the beauty, he’s stuck inside his head. He has to deal with the shame of his inaction, and also the sadness of knowing he’s hurt someone he loves. Even then, in this awful situation, it’s doing the thing you dread most that can open doors to healing.

Your adventures for junior readers are always in outdoorsy settings. Why is that and how do you choose your settings?

I think a huge antidote to screen time and scrolling is to get outside into nature and really explore and unwind and reset your brain chemistry. So many children are rushed from breakfast to car to school to after-school activity back to car then dinner and TV and bed. Then repeat.

I hope my books transport kids from their four walls into a wonderland that really exists right outside.

I want kids to feel the magic and allure of being in nature: the challenge, the adventure, the beauty, the excitement.

And (even better!) it’s all real!

What’s the most important thing to keep in mind when writing for the readership of books like Into the Blue?

Don’t preach. Don’t try to teach.

Just tell the story and let your readers work out what you might be trying to say.

First and foremost, always-always, reading should be fun.

What’s a day in the life of Cristy Burne, writer, look like?

Incredibly glamorous! I like to wake at sunrise for some beachside yoga and stretching, then I enjoy a relaxed breakfast of tropical fruits, then I have a long bath and think of new book ideas.

Then I realise I’m still dreaming 😊 😊. My actual day-in-the-life is very unglamorous and involves me bossing myself around all day long. Every day I try to work on something from each of my five To Do lists:

  • Creating (writing a new book, working on edits, etc);
  • Marketing (posting on social media, filming videos; planning events);
  • Presenting (working on new show content, liaising with new clients);
  • Learning (watching TED talks, reading books, trying new things); and
  • Adventuring (going for a walk, planning a holiday, taking the kids rock climbing, etc).

I love that I don’t really have a typical day-in-the-life. Some days I’m at home all day and other days I’m presenting at a school all day, and some days I’m running around with my head chopped off catching up on laundry, groceries, making dinner and growing caterpillars (in our vegie patch).

Do you have any tips for parents and teachers who have the job of choosing books and helping kids enjoy reading?

My hottest tip is to read to your kids or read with your kids every day. When kids see and feel how absorbing and compelling books can be, they’re much more likely to get on board.

Many of my most beloved memories from primary school involve sitting on the mat listening to my teacher read us into other worlds.

But which books to read? If you have loads of time, you can check out book reviews, pre-read books, roll around in book shops and libraries.

Or ask your school librarian, your town’s librarian, your class bookworm, your local bookshop owner. These people are on the pulse of what’s new and compelling in kid lit and they can help personalise the books you choose for the children you love.


Is there anything else you’d like to share?

Thank you for reading this far! I think I’m really nervous because today is #publicationday for Into the Blue, so I probably wrote Far Too Much.

Thank you thank you for reading and cheering and supporting me and supporting Fremantle Press and our Australian stories. I really appreciate your encouragement!

Into the Blue is available in all good bookstores and online now.

Books discussed

Share via: