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Devils in Danger

Eleven-year-old Killarney thinks school is boring. She’d rather be exploring the wilderness around her Tasmanian hometown or helping her hairdresser mum. When strange things start to happen – ear-splitting screams in the dead of night and missing items found under the house – there’s even less chance of Killarney doing schoolwork.

Before long, she discovers the culprit: a wild Tasmanian devil, denning under the house! When rumours about dangerous devils begin spreading, Killarney is determined to protect her precious visitor.

But can she convince an entire town these wild creatures are worth saving?

" Devils in Danger is another enjoyable and accessible read from Samantha Wheeler, who is firmly establishing herself as a go-to author for younger readers. The combination of loveable characters, exciting storyline and interesting factual information makes this a perfect book for primary school readers in years three to six. Killarney is a loveable protagonist whose struggles with school and difficulties with her friends will be familiar to many readers. There is a strong sense of community, with a cast of interesting characters, that gives the novel a lovely sense of place. Devils in Danger is a fail-safe choice for kids who are after something different from the large range of fantasy novels currently available for this age group.

Erin Wamala has previously worked in publishing and is currently both a practising teacher librarian and the owner of The Kids’ Bookshop."


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Frequently Asked Questions

1. Have you ever seen/heard a Tasmanian devil in the wild yourself?

Yes! I first got the idea for writing this story when I saw Tassie devil footprints and scats on the path on a walk I was doing in the Tasmanian wilderness. I was so excited, but didn’t get to see that particular devil. Once I’d started planning the book though, I went back to Tassie and watched wild devils eating a carcass in the dark. It was amazing! Killarney gets to do this in Devils in Danger and I know just how excited she would have felt!


2. How did you know when you’d done enough research to start writing Devils in Danger?

(or do you research at the same time that  you write?)

I usually go and find out what the issues are for the particular animal first (Tassie devils in this case) and what my main character needs to do to help them. This gives me a rough idea of what the story might be. Then I begin to write but always find I need more details, like how big are the animals when they’re 3 months old, 6 months old, adults, what do they eat, what do they smell like, how many teeth do they have etc. So these details I usually have to google or go and see the animals, or ask an expert once I’m already writing the story.


3. Do you have a favourite Tasmanian devil fact?

Absolutely. I think the fact that they are creating their own immunity to facial tumours is simply incredible. Incredible! They are saving themselves. So clever. But a funny fact is the pongy smell they emit when they’re frightened, kind of like a skunk. Who would have thought? They look too cute to be stinky.


4. How much do you find you have to change in a book if you compare the final draft to the first draft?  

Oh my goodness. Nearly everything! My first few drafts are usually very bad and I have to change them a lot to make the story any good. One thing that happens with me is that I have too many ideas and can lose the central theme of the story by going off and getting distracted by little subplots. It’s often hard to know what I’m really trying to say until I’ve edited a few drafts. It can be a little frustrating but it’s worth it in the end.


5. Can you tell us a bit about your next writing project?

Many of your books are about Australian animals/birds - Mister Cassowary, Wombat Warriors, Turtle Trackers, and Devils in Danger. (Will there be another book in this collection?)

I’m playing with a few ideas at the moment. I’d love to write another one like this about sharks (I feel really sorry for them, they so need our help) and I’m also writing a junior fiction series about a family who inherit a farm but are useless at farming. It’s so cute. Then there’s a story I’m working on about a boy who gets left behind on a tropical island. So many ideas!

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