By LUKE VOOGT
FANS of netball fiction will rejoice this year, with Ocean Grove writer Bernadette Hellard set to release two new books in her Netball Gems series.
Mother-of-four “Bernie” was first inspired to write by a lack variety in young-adult fiction, and her passion for literacy and physical education.
“I had always dabbled in writing and thought all the young-adult fiction was very grim,” she said.
“I wanted to write books for people who felt the same way as me about sport growing up.”
She started her first series – Netball or Nothing – in 2000, writing with her Melbourne-based sister Lisa Gibbs.
“We plan together, we write chunks separately and we edit together,” she said.
“Then we roll around on the floor laughing.”
Bernie and Lisa have a keen interest in netball, having played it at A-grade level as well as coaching and umpiring.
They began the Netball Gems series last year and are scheduled to complete the new books soon: one next month and one in April.
They’ve also written a manuscript for the first book of a surf life-saving series, which they plan to release this year.
Bernie recently finished teaching at St Margaret’s Primary School in East Geelong to give herself more time to write.
She now works as an emergency teacher at Star of the Sea.
“I’ve got my perfect life – I work a few days a week, exercise in the morning and write in the afternoon,” she said.
She is not the stereotypical reclusive writer and doesn’t mind her family interrupting her work.
“If I’m trying to write a chapter, I’ll exercise or cook later and it will brew in the back of mind,” she said.
“But if the phone rings while I’m writing I ignore it.”