Dear Agent,

When the people of Bandicoot Ridge begin acting strangely, twelve-year-old Ivy Hithergreen is convinced her Aussie hometown is on the brink of an environmental disaster. Ivy, who is known for her passion for science doesn’t believe in magic or fairy tales–but that’s all about to change.

With only her conspiracy-theory loving BFF Murph for support, Ivy discovers that the brains of the townsfolk have been hijacked in their sleep by dream dwelling mind thieves, determined to wipe out humanity forever. Then, when her dad is taken, Ivy realises she must finally open her mind to the supernatural or lose him forever.

Ivy on the Otherside is a humorous MG novel with magical and STEM elements, which might appeal to readers who have enjoyed the Robyn Silver series by Paula Harrison or Nevermoor by Jessica Townsend. It’s a tale of friendship and determination and that having a little faith in both science and magic is no bad thing.

I have completed the Curtis Brown Creative Writing for Children Course with Catherine Johnson and am currently working my way through the Writers’ HQ collection of courses, including Plotstormers I & II and Making People. I have been long listed for The Scribblers #Peerpitch 2018 and #1st 50 competitions and am a member of several writing critique groups. I currently work as a freelance graphic designer and greatly enjoy using my poor young children as book creature test subjects.

Thanks very much for your time and I look forward to hearing from you.

Kind Regards,

Renee McAlpine


I stood outside my classroom door and drew a breath so deep I inhaled a passing fly. I was forty-two minutes late, with half a rosemary bush stuck in my hair, odd socks on my feet and a major hunch that trouble was brewing in Bandicoot Ridge. It was way too much for a Wednesday, especially one that hadn’t included breakfast yetand no, the fly didn’t count.

Seriously weird stuff was happening around town and I needed answers, but first I had to face my teacher Mrs. Snottygobbleeasily the angriest person on the planet. Just the thought of her wrinkly old head screaming at me for being late made my ears thump nervously.

I looked over my shoulder and considered legging it home, but Murph and I were due to present our science report and I wasn’t going to let him down. So, I tightened my ponytail, straightened my back and pushed open the door.

Snottygobble wasn’t there! I couldn’t believe my luck. Not wanting to waste a single second, I jumped over the recycling bin and zigzagged like a rugby player to my desk.

“What happened to you?” asked Murph, as I slumped into the chair next to him.


“So, why’ve you got a caterpillar in your hair?” He picked at my head like a gorilla mum. “You fall into a bush?”

I swatted his hand. “Sort of.”

“Seriously Ivy, you’re a mess.”

I closed my eyes and rubbed my temples. “I’ve seen things Murph. Really weird things.”

“Yeah?” he said, eyes as big as emu eggs. “What?”

He was mad for the freaky stuff. Anything magical or supernatural had him jumping out of his skin.

“Promise you won’t go all paranormal detective on me?”

Murph nodded, but his left eye squinted slightly, meaning his promise wasn’t totally rock solid. I decided not to tell him everything, not yet anyway. I’d stick to the hedge bit—at least it would explain the hair.

I glanced at the door to make sure Snottygobble wasn’t there and lowered my voice. “You know Margaret from the antique shop?”

Murph wriggled to the edge of his chair. “The posh one with purple hair?”

I nodded. “Found her on my way here. In the hedge between the park and the post office.”

Murph arched his eyebrows. “She was in the hedge?”

“Not all of her.” I scratched the end of my nose. “Just her head. The rest of her was sticking out on the pavement.”


I recoiled. “No!”

His shoulders dropped. I was losing him.

“She was in her nighty. Tryna stab beetles with a fork.” I added a few jabbing motions for effect.

He nudged his glasses. “She catch any?”

I shuddered. “Yeah, she ate it.”

Murph gasped and put his hand on his heart. “Poor thing. What a way to go.”

He loved insects, so it was difficult news for him.

“Forget the beetle, Murph! A bug eating woman with her head shoved in a hedge is the real worry!”