Collingwood fan and employment law solicitor Georgia Athanasellis doesn’t try to hide her support for her beloved Magpies.
Not only did she name her golden retriever Pendlebury after Scott Pendlebury, a former captain of the Collingwood Football Club, but her children’s book is called Oscar and Pendlebury: Behind the Blue Door.
The University of Queensland solicitor is probably best known for her work on The Callover, the Queensland Law Society (QLS) podcast created by young lawyers, for young lawyers.
Georgia is one of the QLS Future Leaders Committee members who is a driving force behind the podcast, which is dedicated to inspiring a generation of connected, capable and healthy young lawyers.
Her creative talents have expanded to the written word with her children’s book being released in July after writing the text last year and sourcing an illustrator.
Georgia took some time out to talk to Proctor about her passion project and explain why she is a Collingwood supporter.
What inspired you to write a children’s book?
I fell in love with reading as a child and have wanted to write my own book ever since.
While I was at university, I did some work experience for a small publishing house that specialised in children’s books.
During that time, I got to read and review a wide range of picture books and came to appreciate how important they can be, both to inspire a love of reading and facilitate important – and sometimes difficult – conversations with little readers.
What are some of your favourite children’s books?
My favourite picture books were Guess How Much I Love You, Rose Meets Mr Wintergarten, Owl Babies and The Pocket Dogs. As far as books that were read aloud to me, I loved Matilda and The Tale of Despereaux.
What area of law you do specialise in?
I practice mostly in employment law. It appealed to me not only because it is about people and their stories (which I find fascinating), but also because it’s always felt familiar. I grew up watching my dad (who specialises in employment law) use his skills to help people. By the time I’d finished school, I knew I wanted to have those skills and do the same.
How challenging was it juggling work and your passion project?
It’s not a burden at all. I really enjoy being a lawyer, but I also love having the opportunity to be creative, whether that’s through Oscar and Pendlebury or The Callover. Both those projects have required me to learn new skills quickly, but I’ve enjoyed the challenge so while life is certainly busy, I wouldn’t change a thing.
How is the book going?
Well, so far. It has been very special to see children engage with it. It makes my day when a friend reports to me that, without their prompting, their child selected Oscar and Pendlebury for another bedtime reading. However, I think my best review has to be the little girl who got to the end of the book and immediately said, “Again!”
Why do you choose the topic of anxiety?
When I was younger, I knew a little kid who struggled to try new things for fear of the unknown. What I learnt from watching “Oscar” was that sometimes you just need to trust the people who love you and borrow a little of their courage. I wanted to create a book that might help the Oscars of the world be a little braver, and give the people trying to be their Pendlebury a way to explain that with a good friend by their side, they could do anything.
Will there be another book in the future?
I hope so! I would love to take Oscar and Pendlebury on adventures behind a whole series of different coloured doors. I’ve written the next one, but before I publish it, I’d like to get the Blue Door into the hands of as many little readers as possible.
Why are you a Collingwood fan?
As for why I’m a Collingwood supporter, my dad is Victorian and my brother and I were brainwashed at birth. Scott Pendlebury works magic on the field and has brought my whole family a lot of entertainment and joy over the years.
When it came to naming our dog, Pendlebury was the only name that made us all immediately smile (and, in truth, the only name we could agree on). It may have been mum who suggested the name. While her Collingwood conversion took longer than my brother and I, she now loves it as well.
*Collingwood takes on the Brisbane Lions in the AFL grand final this weekend.