Born in Jakarta, Indonesia, of French parents who are themselves of mixed ethnicity: Basque, Spanish, Portuguese and French-Canadian as well as French, Sophie Masson came to Australia at the age of five, after spending four years with her paternal grandmother in France, due to illness striking when she was a baby in Indonesia.
All her childhood, the family moved back and forth between Australia and France, unable to make up their minds as to where to live, so Sophie grew up between worlds, and between languages, an experience which has formed a lot of her work. (You can see a small glimpse of that globetrotting childhood in a short video on the Interviews and Videos page, about an epic ocean trip from Australia to France that Sophie and her family took when she was a child.)
From a young age, Sophie loved stories: told, read and written! As a child, she created comic books and short stories, wrote poetry, and started on a big ambitious fantasy novel as a teenager still at school. Her first ‘published’ book was a picture book she created as an older teenager (pic below) with her younger sister Gabrielle, Valerie Behind The Bottlebrush, which was published in a highly-limited deluxe edition of–one! Unlike her efforts from childhood, this one has survived–if a little the worse for wear–and now sits proudly in the cabinet that holds all her more traditionally-published titles!
A bilingual French and English speaker, Sophie was educated in schools in both Australia and France, and has a BA and M.Litt in French and English Literature from the University of New England in northern NSW. In 2018 she successfully completed a PhD in creative practice, also at UNE, which was awarded in 2019.
In 2019, Sophie was awarded an AM(General Division) in the Order of Australia, announced in the Australia Day Honours list. Her citation reads: ‘For significant service to literature as an author, publisher, and through roles in industry organisations’.
Sophie’s first published novels, one for adults, The House in the Rainforest (UQP) and one for children, Fire in the Sky (Angus and Robertson) were both released in 1990. Since then she has had more than 70 books published in Australia and internationally, mostly for young adults and children, but also for adults, including the internationally-selling Forest of Dreams, an adult fantasy trilogy based on the life and work of the medieval French writer Marie de France, and most recently, A Hundred Words for Butterfly, a novella set in the French Basque country, published in audio and print form. Her novels for children and young adults range widely across genres, including fantasy, historical fiction, romance, contemporary family stories, ghost stories, mysteries, and a graphic novel(The Secret Army: Operation Loki). With theatre director Christopher Ross-Smith, she adapted one of her novels, The Green Prince, for the stage and it was performed in a successful season in 2001. The Green Prince has recently been republished in the Untapped list (Brio Books) She has also written novels under the pseudonyms of Isabelle Merlin(Three Wishes, 2008; Pop Princess, 2009; Cupid’s Arrow, 2009 and Bright Angel, 2010) and Jenna Austen (The Romance Diaries, Ruby, 2013, and The Romance Diaries: Stella, 2013.)
Sophie has also had many picture books published. The first was Two Trickster Tales from Russia(illustrated by David Allan, Christmas Press 2013) and was followed in 2017 by Once Upon An ABC(illustrated by Christopher Nielsen, Little Hare); Two Rainbows(illustrated by Michael McMahon, Little Hare); and Building Site Zoo(illustrated by Laura Wood, Hachette Australia). See Monkey(illustrated by Kathy Creamer) was published by Little Pink Dog Books in 2018. In 2019, three more picture books were published: On my Way(illustrated by Simon Howe, Scholastic Australia); There’s a Tiger out There(illustrated by Ruth Waters, Little Hare) and Join the Armidale Parade(illustrated by Kathy Creamer, Little Pink Dog Books). In 2020 appeared The Snowman’s Wish (illustrated by Ronak Taher, Dirt Lane Press); A House of Mud(illustrated by Katrina Fisher, Little Pink Dog Books, also available in audio form from Spineless Wonders Audio ) and Santagram(illustrated by Shiloh Gordon, Little Hare). Cock-a-doodle-doo (illustrated by Kathy Creamer, Little Pink Dog Books), appeared in 2022, and in 2023, Satin, illustrated by Lorena Carrington and published by MidnightSun Publishing, appeared. Music in the Air, illustrated by Kathy Creamer (little Pink Dog Books), will appear in 2024.
As well as many full-length novels for children, young adults and adults, Sophie has written three chapter books for early readers, created with illustrator Cheryl Orsini, Four on the Run (2020) Four All At Sea(2021) and Four Up In Lights (2022), all with Christmas Press. She has published two collections of retold traditional French fairytales and medieval works, both with illustrator Lorena Carrington, French Fairy Tales (2020) and Magical Tales from French Camelot (2022), both published by Serenity Press. Her audio-first novel for adults, A Hundred Words for Butterfly was published in 2021 in audio form by Spineless Wonders Audio and was followed by a print edition in 2022.
In late 2023, her adult novel, The Paris Cooking School, written under the name of Sophie Beaumont, will be published by Ultimo Press.
Sophie is also one of the writers and compilers of the non-fiction illustrated book, Inside Story: the wonderful world of writing, illustrating and publishing children’s books, which appeared in May 2022(UPA Books). Her non-fiction book on authorship in a changing publishing climate, The Adaptable Author, was published by Keesing Press in 2014. She has also contributed chapters about writing, books, the publishing industry and authorship in books published in Australia, the US and UK, and contributed articles to many journals. Her short stories, both for children and adults, have appeared in many anthologies, in journals, magazines, and online.
From August 2004 to August 2008 she served on the Literature Board of the Australia Council, the Australian Government’s arts-funding body, and in March 2009 she was elected to the Board of Management of the Australian Society of Authors, served twice as its Deputy Chair and from 2011-2014, as its Chair. She is also the President of the New England and North-West sub branch of the Children’s Book Council of NSW, and is the current Chair of the New England Writers’ Centre and current President of the Small Press Network. With David Allan and Fiona McDonald, she is also a co-director and founder of award-winning regionally-based children’s books publisher Christmas Press. And in 2022, with illustrator Lorena Carrington, she founded Pardalote Press, a tiny press specialising in creating ‘small, surprising things’. Their first two productions, a chapbook titled Bird’s Eye View and Wayfarer, a set of ‘myriorama’ story-telling cards, appeared in late 2022. The third Pardalote Press production, Secrets of the Good Fairy House, will appear in June 2023.
You can see a full list of Sophie’s book-length works in the ‘Books’ page, and a list of her short fiction published in anthologies in the ‘Short stories’ page.
Sophie has won and been shortlisted for several awards for her books, including the NSW Premier’s Literary Awards, the Aurealis Awards, the Davitt Awards, and CBCA Notable Books. She has given many talks and workshops at conferences, festivals and other events, in Australia, the USA, UK, Japan, and New Zealand, and often visits schools for talks and workshops, in person and online. She has also created online creative activities and resources for children, families, schools and libraries, which can be accessed at her presentation site, www.sophiemassonpresents.com
Sophie is married with three grown-up children, Pippa, Xavier and Bevis. She has five grandchildren–George and Otis (Pippa’s sons with her husband Joe) Parisa and Nilu (Xavier’s daughters with his wife Maryam) and Oscar (Bevis’ son with his wife Jacquie). Sophie lives in country New South Wales with her husband David Leach, in a beautiful mudbrick, solar-powered house they built themselves. The house and its creation inspired the creation of her picture book with Katrina Fisher, A House of Mud (Little Pink Dog Books, 2020).
Check out Sophie’s blog, Feathers of the Firebird, and follow her on Facebook, Instagram and Twitter. You can also view several videos about her work at her You Tube channel, and on the Interviews and Videos page on this website.