AJ Betts

AJ Betts

A.J. Betts is an award-winning Fremantle-based author, speaker, teacher, columnist and cyclist. Her latest work is a contemporary young-adult novel called ONE SONG, about a teenage band trying to record a song to enter into the prestigious Triple J Unearthed High competition. Her earlier books include the two-book speculative fiction series comprising HIVE and ROGUE, ZAC & MIA (which was adapted into an Emmy Award-winning Hollywood television series), WAVELENGTH and SHUTTERSPEED. In 2019, A.J. was awarded a PhD on the topic of Wonder (Edith Cowan University), and won the inaugural Western Australian Premier's Fellowship. A.J. has worked in secondary schools as a teacher for over twenty years, and has taught creative writing in universities. She is a dynamic and engaging speaker who regularly conducts workshops in schools, libraries and festivals, and has been a keynote speaker at conferences. A.J. is originally from Queensland but has lived in Western Australia since 2004. 

AJ Betts YA and Children's author with palm behind

AJ Betts is an award-winning young-adult author, speaker, teacher, and columnist. She has over twenty years of English teaching experience, and holds a PhD on the topic of Wonder. She frequently speak at schools, libraries and festivals. Her most popular talks are described below. She holds a current Working with Children Check and speaker’s public liability insurance.


This 45-60 minute presentation explores the life of a writer, the nature of creativity, and how I turn small ideas into stories. This presentation is suitable for students in Years 7 to 12. It is especially relevant for groups studying creative writing and storytelling.


This 45-60 minute presentation focuses on my latest novel about a teenage band trying to record a song to enter into Triple J Unearthed High. Along with backstory, research, characterisation, and cover development, I talk about the big themes in the book, particularly creativity, ambition, mental health, and the pressure of Year 12.


This 45-60 minute presentation begins with the genesis of HIVE and ROGUE (the dystopian duology), before outlining the challenges of world-building in speculative fiction. I share how I used problem-solving, research and creativity to build a plausible city structure and credible society. For schools interested in the crossover of creativity and science, I focus on how science, technology and engineering influenced the narrative and symbolism. For schools interested in the nature of dystopia, I focus on the dystopian elements in the fictional society, and how the novel both embraces and challenges these. A HIVE presentation is suitable for students in Years 8 to 12.


This 45-60 minute presentation explores how real life can influence fiction. I explain the backstory and introduce the characters, conflict and themes. International book covers are shared for comparison, with a discussion of symbolism, themes and marketing. Finally, I share how the novel was adapted into a Hollywood television series, noting changes to structure, setting and characterisation. This presentation is suitable for students in Years 8 to 12. It is especially relevant for groups studying real-life themes, realism, visual analysis and book-to-screen adaptations.


These workshops can range from one hour to a full day. In these practical sessions, I employ fun and accessible activities which emphasise the idea of ‘play’. Using visual stimuli and questions, I lead students through various writing exercises. Students are encouraged to write reflexively, with honesty, courage and empathy. During these workshops, I explain how similar exercises contributed to the development of my novels.


In this workshop (which can be anywhere from 1-3 hours long, depending on the practical component), I provide practical strategies for senior English students tackling the composing section in exams. The approach is less about ‘creative writing’ and more about ‘problem-solving’ as we explore different ways of interrogating visual and textual stimuli through questions. I break down the elements of narratives and demonstrate how to manipulate the ‘tools’ of writing to create an original piece. Students will experiment with ways of diving into story, and learn how to develop voice, mood, character motivation, tension and language.

I have also presented on the following:

  • Creativity and vulnerability
  • Writing workshop for adults (including those interested in writing for teenagers)


  • It was such an inspiration and a pleasure to hear A.J. speak today. As for Hive I chose to teach it to my mainstream year 8 English last year. It was a great novel to use as a vehicle for teaching many of the concepts the English curriculum is based around. However, the thing that struck me the most was the joy my students received in reading it. I can’t recall another text that I have used in my English classroom that has had the same effect on the students. Initially, I tried to control the pace at which we read the novel to support them in processing the strange world. There were students chomping at the bit to keep reading it, complaining that they didn’t want to wait anymore – for them, I relented. They finished reading the novel so quickly and moved on to Rogue. There were only a few copies in the library and they organised the order in which they would each read it – they really chased up the 2nd novel. I was so delighted to see so many of my so enthralled by the world and characters and problems explored in Hive and Rogue. Thank you, A.J. Betts!

    Perth Public School

    Perth Public School
    AJ Betts
  • A.J.’s willingness to adapt on the fly and adjust her schedule was paramount to the success of the session. It was absolutely brilliant in terms of content and was perfectly tailored to their assessment task. As a teacher, I garnered insider tips and tricks to improve young students’ writing and the early feedback from some of my top students was fantastic. In fact, one teacher in the session already shared a writing task to the teaching team based on her presentation today. Thank you, A.J., for your efforts in preparing and presenting. Can’t wait to do it again next year.

    Brisbane Independent School

    Brisbane Independent School
    AJ Betts

Western Australia

Speaker type

  • Author
  • Journalist / Feature writer
  • Virtual visits
available for virtual visits
AJ Betts