FOR as long as she can remember, Carrington writer Jess Black has always had a book on the go.
The mother-of-two had always wanted to be a writer, but it was only about 10 years ago she began to believe that dream might become a reality.
Black has since penned and published more than 18 stories for the eight to 12 age bracket.
But her journey toward becoming a published author began in theatre.
"Becoming a writer wasn't something I consciously thought about until my early 30s, when I realised that it could actually happen," she says.
"I have a background in theatre, so I've always been interested in telling stories and telling stories to kids.
"My work in theatre led to some paid work writing for television."
Black worked in the script department on children's programs Head Start and Sleepover Club for a year, and loved every moment.
That experience led an editor at Random House to think of her when the publishing house was contemplating a book series based on the wildlife adventures of Bindi Irwin.
"I enjoy series writing," Black, who is also a co-founder of online magazine The Hunter Woman, says.
"It may be because of my background in television, but I prefer to spend a long time with my characters and to see how they react in many situations across many adventures.
"Who would have thought I'd spend two-and-a-half years living and breathing the Irwins, but I feel very lucky to have done so.
Animals play a major role in Black's work, first with the Bindi Wildlife Adventure series, and then with the RSPCA's Animal Tales books.
"At the risk of sounding overly earnest, I've always loved animals," Black says.
"I always felt I had a real affinity with animals. I never found them difficult to understand, whereas people I find more difficult to understand.
"They say to write about what you know and what you love, and I really love animals, and I like the idea I can possibly make a difference to their lives.
"If there's a possibility of 'fact files' or a call to action, then I'd like that to always be a component of my work. But also, the stories themselves need to stand alone."
Black's time working as a book buyer for Scholastic's Arrow Club gave her great insight into what makes a children's book work, and not work.
"At Scholastic it was my job to read everything on the market in the eight to 12 age group, and I did that for four years," she says.
"I'd always had an idea of how to tell a story and I'd done writing courses. But I think being fully immersed in reading stories over and over again, and not all of them good stories, I became very adept at working out what was good about the story, what made it work, and therefore what would make it sell, and what didn't."
Although she wouldn't rule out ever writing for adults, Black is content writing for children.
"There's enough words to write a chapter book, but the world of eight to 10 and eight to 12 is such a glorious place," she says.
"Writing for that age always seems like a joyous place to be. It's a nice world to retreat into."
A compilation of the RSPCA Animal Tales books are coming out soon.
Three of the four stories are Black's.