Creative Spotlight | Dave Leys

Published on 09 April 2021


Tell us a bit about who you are and what kind of creative work you make
I am a writer of fiction - I work in children’s and adult fiction. While I also write poetry, my primary focus is longer prose work – both novels and short stories. I love storytelling, I love language and making connections to readers through imagination. I teach English to high school students so I am very much immersed in words!

Whereabouts do you look for creative ideas? Who or what inspires you?
Creative ideas are everywhere. I found one just now floating outside my window. Its mother sent it out to get some milk from the shops and it just rose into the air, having shirked its boring chore, ready to be plucked by any old author. Seriously, though, I am inspired by music constantly, by the excellent literature that’s being written now in Australia and all over this globe, by people I know and random conversations I hear on the street. I find the stranger parts of the world endlessly entertaining and inspiring – scientists inventing, kids goofing around. And I have what some might call a rich inner life and others might call a brain that won’t shut up. So there is that.

Dave-Leys-3.png Are there any special processes, techniques or tools you use to make your creative work?
I like to start with an image and stay one step ahead of my unconscious, letting ideas pop up spontaneously. Also, people say you should turn the internet off when you’re writing so you don’t get distracted. This is nonsense. I am always Googling random things when I’m writing and then one thing leads to another and I end up writing about boneless sharks doing limbo or someone surfing on radio waves.

What is a creative project that you’ve worked on that you’re really proud of? Why?
I am very proud of my two children’s novels – The Institute of Fantastical Inventions and its sequel. I think they manage to combine humour, adventure and science really well. And Shane Ogilvie’s illustrations for them rock!

What creative project are you working on at the moment?
I’ve just started writing a Gothic novel. It’s not a mode I’ve written much in before, so I’m excited and having a great time with it. Of course, I’ve been listening to Gothic music on and off my whole life.

Dave-Leys-4.png Do you have any top tips for emerging artists and creatives just starting out?
Give it a go and bring your own special brand of weird to the world.

We always love recommendations! Who are some other local artists we should check out?
A local DJ called Meem. He will get you dancing hard.

Where can we find out more about your work and get in touch?
I have two novels The Institute of Fantastical Inventions and The Institute of Fantastical Inventions II: Magnetic Attraction which can be found in bookstores and libraries. You can find my short stories online on sites like The Blue Nib, The Adelaide Magazine or in magazines like MiNDFOOD. My Instagram handle is @dave.leys or hit me up at

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