Helping lift the lid on a mass wage theft scandal in 2016, where students and international workers were ripped off, built the foundations for Ashleigh Mounser's first published book.
At the time, Ashleigh had been completing a Bachelor of Creative Writing at the University of Wollongong but struggled to find a casual job, working a slew of "trials" for various Wollongong businesses that would only pay her $10 an hour.
Fast-forward nearly eight years later and law reform to make employers accountable has entered parliament, and the writer's first novel for tweens is about to hit bookshelves, How To Be Cooler Than The Moon.
"It probably did spark something because [the main character Blair] is a very righteous young woman in the book, with a real sense of right and wrong," Ashleigh said.
"It's a little bit based on my personality."
The children's comedy follows Blair Moon, 11, who goes from hanging out at a nursing home to being enrolled at primary school and trying to fit in when she'd rather be playing lawn bowls or bingo.
Like the novel's heroine, its author was an antisocial kid hanging at the library a lot, "struggling" to find things in common with people her own age. They both also have a lot of ideas about political systems and the economy.
Writing the book only took a month but it took a lot longer to get it out to the public.
Ashleigh's first agent stopped answering her emails but the puzzle came together when she spotted her obituary months later. Her second agent decided she couldn't strike a deal so"dropped her", so the writer took matters into her own hands and found a publisher keen to print her words on a page.
Ashleigh hopes to make a series out of her character Blair Moon with "a million ideas" of where to take the head-strong 11-year-old next.
"She's ambitious, I feel like she's right for adventure."
How To Be Cooler Than The Moon is out through Ford Street Publishing, and will be available in bookstores and online from October 1.
Ashleigh Mounser will be launching the novel at Collins Booksellers in Thirroul, 2pm on Friday October 6. Bookings can be made by emailing the store.
SYNOPSIS: The reader follows 11-year-old Blair Moon on her way out of the nursing home and into primary school. A barefoot bowls champion and a bingo expert, Blair is buoyed by a decade of praise from her close circle of 90-year-old friends. She's never stopped to question if her lime green pantsuits, high-fibre diet or lofty aspirations of being president are "cool." But if she's going to rule the school, she's going to need to get cool - and fast.
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