About Debbie Smith

Author | Creator | Educator

My Story

The Early Years:

Around Year 2, like a lot of children, I loved creating illustrated stories. My Mum would cut exercise books into three separate books so I could fill them with stories, stories that usually involved me drawing houses, trees and flowers, and sometimes the odd horse; very typical of a child around seven years old. I remember the colours of my drawings always being vibrant. I loved to use textas (markers).

Over the years, with moving and life, my precious books didn’t survive, but I do wish I could look at them now. It would be kind of fun to look over the way I viewed the world back in the day.

As a result, I developed a love of books from a very early age, and every Saturday morning, Mum and Dad would take me to the local library where I would choose two books. I took extreme care of those books.

The library books were great, but what I really wanted were books of my own. I’d save all my pocket money and when I had enough saved, I would buy books. My Mum told me I spent my pocket money very wisely.

From my childhood, authors were people I admired, but I’d never had the privilege of meeting one in person or ever attended an author visit to any of my schools. I’d never really thought about what it took to be an author or thought too far past their stories.

Sadly, I never considered the possibility of ever becoming one myself. Instead, I chose to be a teacher, eventually, after choosing to try some other jobs first.

Being a teacher, for me, was the best job in the world and a job I did for over 30 years! In fact, I still teach children part-time with my creative writing and art workshops as well as some tutoring, where I help children improve their writing and English skills.

I continued to write at every opportunity. But it wasn’t until 2007 that I got a little more serious about it, and decided to take some time out from teaching to pursue my love of writing. After more than 21 years, I decided to head back to uni where I completed a post-graduate diploma in creative writing. It was such an exciting year for me and I met some incredibly interesting people. It was here I met authors and learned the pathways to creating a career as an author.

I did go back to teaching a short time afterward, but this time as a specialist primary teacher where I ran Writers Circle, a program I wrote and developed over a five-year period for gifted and talented students.

It wasn’t until I discovered I was going to be an Oma (grandma), and after winning some awards for my writing, that I decided to try and get published. I am living proof that it doesn’t matter how old you are. If you put your mind to it, you can do anything you want…but that’s another story.

The Now Years:

Life since retiring from teaching full time is quite the journey. I didn’t realise it would be quite so busy, but it is a blast. Since retiring from full-time work, I have published my debut illustrated children’s picture book called, IF YOU MEET AN ELEPHANT, and I have been experimenting with hosting my own children’s creative writing and art workshops intermittently. The art classes proved to be quite popular so I’ve been busy creating content and programs and I enrolled in a NEIS Certificate III Micro Business Course to gain some qualifications in the area of running my own business. From this pathway, STORYBOX ARTS was born. You may see the name Shadytree Books crop up from time to time, (it was the original name for my tutoring service and creative writing classes), but from 1 April 2021, StoryBox Arts, is born and I am super excited to see where this leads. I will continue to write and draw for my own personal interest, but I am excited to be finally sharing creative experiences with children in the very near future.

Books & Short Stories

 If You Meet an Elephant

Debut children’s picture book. Fresh from the printers and available now! Grab a copy to enjoy this delightful story about friendship.

Tuck Shop Takeover by Combat Dad

Short story awarded 1st place about Combat Dad who takes over Cloverdale Prep’s Tuck Shop. The winning entry published on the 2018 Competition StoryLinks website.

This story went on to be published with The School Magazine – August 2018 edition of Orbit.

Caretta C – A Turtle’s Tale

Short story awarded 3rd place about a voyage home for new mum Caretta C. Published in the 2014 Creative Kits Takes ebook anthology, The Journey.

Charlie’s secret

A short story awarded 3rd place about a boy, Charlie who lives in the forest with his family and encounters some perplexing creatures. Published in 2015 Creative Kids Tales ebook anthology, Deep With In The Forest.


  • 2020 – Debut StoryBox Arts – Children’s Art Workshops – Holiday Program
  • 2020 – ROMANCING THE STARS – Guest Panelist: Author Talk – 3-minute presentation on If You Meet an Elephant – Debut Book via Zoom
  • 2020 – BOOK WEEK – invited by Tewantin State SchoolPrep-Year 3 Author Talk, Performance & Reading of If You Meet and Elephant in the School Auditorium, Year 1 – 3 – Art Workshop – Pastel and Watercolour Elephants & Year 4 – 6: Creative Writing Workshop – The 3Cs in Creating Cool Characters
  • 2020 – AUTHOR EVENT – VOICES ON THE COAST – YOUTH LITERARY FESTIVAL – GUEST PRESENTER & WORKSHOPPING Immanuel Lutheran College, Buderim – Year 1 – 3 Author Presentation & Performance and Year 4 – 6 Creative Writing Workshops – The 3Cs of Creating Cool Characters
  • 2020 – AUTHOR EVENT – invited by Harry Hartog Book Store, Maroochydore – READING of If You Meet an Elephant and other titles
  • 2020AUTHOR EVENT – invited by The Little Book Nook, Palmwoods – Author Talk, Performance, Reading of If You Meet an Elephant and art & craft activities
  • 2019 – AUTHOR EVENT – invited by Harry Hartog Book Store, Maroochydore – READING of debut illustrated children’s book If You Meet an Elephant
  • 2019 – BOOK WEEK – invited to an AUTHOR EVENT at Tewantin State School – Author Talk and Reading, If You Meet an Elephant.
  • 2019BOOK WEEK – Debbie attended her first Book Week event as an author at Citipointe Christian College, Brisbane, Qld in September. She enjoyed meeting new and past students and was super exciting to share her debut illustrated children’s picture book If You Meet an Elephant.
  • 2019 Combat Dad published in The School Magazine August – ORBIT edition.
  • 2018 – Debbie’s children’s short story, Combat Dad – Tuck Shop Takeover won first place in the 2018 StoryLinks Short Story Competition.


Published Book


writing awards

stories in development

Professional affiliations


With 30 years experience, Debbie is a qualified, skilled and passionate primary extension teacher/coordinator/facilitator & program developer for Gifted & Talented Programs for primary aged students – creative writing workshops

~ Jocelyn engle ~

Meet Debbie – 2020

Thursday 20 & Friday 21 February, 2020

Voices on the Coast Youth Literary Festival

Debbie is presenting children’s workshops for Yr 4-6 and performances and readings for Preps – Year 2 at this year’s Voices on the Coast Youth Literary Festival. Come along and meet Debbie. She will be signing books at this event.

Wednesday 22 January 2020

Author Event & Book Signing at the Little Book Nook at Palmwoods

Join in the fun. Come along and hear Debbie read her illustrated children’s picture book, If You Meet an Elephant. There will be songs, dances, and activities galore.