Every week I like to feature an Australian writer and illustrator in PASS IT ON.
The illustrators’ interviews, once they have been featured in the ezine, are uploaded onto this blog.
The writers that I’ve interviewed don’t have a blog of their own so I thought I might upload their interviews here. I won’t be able to go back to the beginning but I hope to fill this space with interesting insights into some of our wonderful writers.
So here we go, please meet….
This interview first appeared in PASS IN ON on Tuesday 15th March 2016 – issue 577
Tell us a bit about yourself
I grew up on a farm in New Zealand where my family grew green beans and garlic. I moved to Australia when I was sixteen but have also lived in Scotland and Japan. I have a degree in Marine Biology. I love to swim and I practice yoga every day.
I live in NSW with my husband, two children and a very mischievous dog.
When did you know that you were a writer?
I can’t recall ever not being a writer! I remember writing poems, stories and letters from a very young age. And I always kept diaries-when I was at school, while I travelled and when I became a mother for the first time. I’ve done all sorts of jobs but whatever I have done and wherever I have been, writing has always been there in the background-like a reliable friend.
When did you first read your writing aloud or give it to someone to read and what was their reaction? How did it impact on you?
When I was seven I wrote my first series of ‘picture books’ about a prince called Puku (I grew up in New Zealand and the word ‘puku’ is Maori for belly!). On the back of each book I drew two columns: Name and Comment. Friends and family were allowed to read each story and write a comment but I insisted it be in pencil ONLY (just in case someone wrote a bad review)! Just as well the comments were all nice-otherwise I might not have kept writing!
What and when was your first acceptance? How did you feel?
In 2012 I participated in a ‘pitch to the publishers’ session at the NSW Writers’ Centre. I had precisely two minutes (they had a timer!) to pitch my story to a panel of publishers. I pitched a story I’d written about my Nana, who was a Hungarian refugee. An editor from Random House contacted me a day or two later wanting to meet in Sydney to discuss the manuscript. Random House decided to publish Jam for Nana. They also took another picture book text I had written which became The Bouncing Ball. I was on cloud nine for weeks!
You write stories in a range of formats-which do you prefer and why?
I have written short stories, picture books, chapter books and educational readers for kids.
I love all of these forms and enjoy switching back and forth between them as each offer their own challenges and rewards.
I am enjoying writing the Ruby Wishfingers series because the longer format has enabled me to explore my characters in more depth-both within each book and across the series.
What have you written?
My picture books include The Bouncing Ball (Random House 2013), Jam for Nana (Random House 2014) Dinosaur Disco(Random House 2015). I have two more picture books due out next year; Me and You (Penguin 2017) and an untitled picture book with EK Books (2017).
I have written short stories for Random House’s Stories for Boys and Stories for Girls collections. I also have a story in Hunter Anthologies’ Sproutlings collection which is released in April this year.
I have also written books for the educational market: Sam’s Great Invention (Macmillan Education 2013) and Don’t Sweat It (Macmillan Education 2013)
I recently completed the first three books in a junior fiction series called Ruby Wishfingers for Wombat Books. Ruby Wishfingers: Skydancer’s Escape was released on March 1st this year. Ruby Wishfingers 2: Toad-ally Magic and the third book in the Ruby Wishfingers series will both come out this year.
In addition to writing for children, I write Haiku poetry which has been published in various forms from magazines to anthologies to interactive maps. My own collection Haiku Journey was published in 2015. I wrote it during the two years I spent living and working in Japan.
We all know that would be writers should read and write as much as possible – do you have any other advice?
Learn how to take constructive criticism from those in the know. Attend as many writers’ festivals and author run workshops as you can. And join your local CBCA branch-it’s a fabulous source of information and support!