Meet Australian children’s author Lesley Barklay. Lesley writes biblical fiction for kids by transporting them back in time. Her first book takes you behind the scenes of the very first Christmas! Learn more below.

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Tell us about yourself!

Hi! I’m Lesley, a Jesus-loving mum of two from Australia. My husband Tim and I live in rural New South Wales with our eleven-year-old son and eight-year-old daughter.

We work as high school teachers at the small Christian school our children attend. Tim teaches English, Drama and Art. I teach History, German and Geography.

Since I was a teenager I have been a night writer, but I got more serious about it over the past few years.

I became a Christian during my first year of university. Since that time, I’ve enjoyed being involved in my church in children’s ministry and women’s ministry. 

Tell us about your chapter books.

Road to Bethlehem is an illustrated chapter book in the Bible Adventurers series.

Siblings Joshua and Hannah are swept back in time to Nazareth where they meet Mary and Joseph. Together, they travel the road to Bethlehem, learning lessons about faith and love along the way.

This book is biblical fiction. It’s suitable for early readers. Precious six year olds would enjoy having it read to them. For independent reading, it’s best suited to children aged 7-11.

The main characters are five and seven. Joshua is an academically gifted, neurodiverse character who has Asperger’s syndrome and sensory processing disorder.

I’m also creating an educational resource book to go with the story. It’s suitable for homeschool or Christian school students in year 3 [ages 8-9] and year 4 [ages 9-10].

What kind of child are you trying to reach with your books?

It’s my prayer that this book will bring Bible stories to life for young boys and girls. I want them to see that while faith is the best choice, it isn’t always easy.

I fit my story into the gaps of the biblical narratives, describing the scenes through the viewpoint of a young child. It’s my prayer that by showing biblical stories through the eyes of a child, other children will be able to engage with them in a new way.

My book is great for kids who don’t know much about Jesus and want to learn more about his birth. It’s also great for Christian kids who may be overly familiar with the narrative of Jesus’ birth, as it will make the stories come to life for them in new ways. 

I think my book may also be encouraging to young children with autism, who don’t always get to see characters like them as heroes in books.

Give us a little flavor of some great characters or the setting.

Excerpt from Chapter 1

The first thing Hannah noticed was the strange smell. 

Had Mummy left the window open? Was there a sheep in the front yard? 

Then, she heard the noises.


“A rooster?” She stirred sleepily. “We don’t have a rooster anymore.”

When she rolled over, her hand touched something strange. Something scratchy. 

What? Her eyes opened. She froze as she took in the small, dark room. “Where am I?”

“Mummy?” she called. “Mummy?” 

“Hannah?” Hannah sat up and looked around to find Joshua sitting on the far side of the room, panic in his eyes. 

She ran to her brother, flinging her arms around his neck. “Where are we?” she whimpered. “Where’s Mummy?”

“I don’t know.” Joshua sounded scared too.

A shuffling noise made them cling to each other more tightly. Then a brown chicken jumped out of the shadows.

“Argh!” Hannah shrieked. She clutched Joshua tightly.

Everything was silent for a moment as the chicken regarded the intruders and then gave— almost—a little shrug and started pecking at the straw. 

Josh laughed. After a second, Hannah joined in. It was a little funny, being scared by a chicken.

What inspired you to write this series?

When I was a child—around five years old—I received a personalised Christmas book from my nana. I took a journey with one of Santa’s elves to collect letters which would reveal the true meaning of Christmas.

I still have the book, and my children were delighted to read a story that was all about mummy and their uncles. Seeing their delight, I decided I wanted to try my hand at writing a personalised book for my kids in Christmas 2018.

My intention was to write a short picture book, since my daughter was nearly five at the time, and I wanted her to be able to read it.

The project quickly grew longer. I didn’t want it to be formulaic–just an insert name here, kind of story. I wanted fictional Joshua and Hannah to act the way my kids would, which meant I needed to use more words.

I decided I wanted to write a story in which my children would experience all the events of the first Christmas. I used a miraculous answer to prayer to send the children back in time and ended up spending the whole first chapter dealing with Hannah’s anxiety, as she realises she needs to trust God, even though she misses her mummy.

I spent weeks on the story, meeting with a friend to discuss the plot and characterisation. (It’s rather humbling to have someone tell you that your children wouldn’t act in certain ways.) I was still working on the last chapter on Christmas Eve. A friend printed it out, and I wrapped it up and gave it to the kids for Christmas.

Every year since then, I have written a new book in the series, and given it to my children for Christmas. In each story, I try to address issues of faith that my children have struggled with as they grow. My husband provided some illustrations for the original book, but he wasn’t keen to continue. I commissioned a talented Christian friend, Mandy Mitchell, to provide art for the books.

How did you know you wanted to be an author?

I have always been a writer. I used to write stories on McDonald’s tray mats during my breaks at work. 

It’s only been in the past year or two that I have started to think seriously about becoming an author.  Even though I had previously self published an adult fantasy book (and am working on other adult fantasy projects), my children’s books have really sparked my imagination, and my desire to share them with the world. 

My illustrator Mandy once said to me, “If God has prompted you to share these stories with the world, he’s going to achieve his purposes through them.” It is a comfort to know that if my book has encouraged even one person, it was worth sharing it. 

All we need to do is plant the seed. God is the one who will make it grow.

What advice do you have for aspiring writers?

Just keep writing. It’s generally assumed that you have to write a million bad words before you get to the good ones, so it’s always best to get the bad words out of the way as soon as possible. 

One of the biggest things that slowed me down when I first started writing was fear of imperfection. I wanted everything I wrote to be amazing, which meant that I was constantly second guessing myself. 

Now, I just write the story of my heart. If there’s a bad line here or there (or everywhere), I let it be a problem for editing Lesley. The greatest advice I was ever given was, “You can’t edit a blank page.”

What formats are your books available in?

  • Paperback
  • Ebook

Find them here.

Do you have a schedule of when new books come out?

I’m hoping to release:
  • Return to Bethlehem around Easter 2022
  • Lost in Jerusalem in winter (summer in the US) 2022
  • Called to Galilee in spring (fall in the US) 2022
  • Book 5 around Easter 2023

At the time of this interview [1/20/2022], what is your most recent release?

How can parents find you?

People can email me at Or find me on Instagram and Facebook.
My books are available on Amazon, Barnes and Noble, Koorong, and more.

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