quick facts + FAQs

Saturday, 17 November 2012

quick facts

Fave colour: Green

Fave fruit: Mangoes, raspberries, pomegranates, figs

Fave lollies: English jelly babies, fruit jellies, chocolate bullets, licorice allsorts (although I now try not to eat too much sugar!)

Fave sport: Yoga, walking, swimming

Fave movies: Guess Who's Coming to Dinner?, The Color Purple, Les Vacances de M. Hulot, The Sound of Music

Fave books: Question too hard, but I do simply adore the Chronicles of Narnia

Fave flower: Hydrangea, Peony

Fave tree: Willow, Poplar

Fave bands: Radiohead, Massive Attack, Sweet Honey in the Rock

Fave songs: Paranoid Android by Radiohead and At Last by Etta James

Fave fun things to do: Read + write + take photos + drink coffee + make things from paper + illustrate

Fave place to visit: The library. Tasmania. Other countries, especially New Zealand, France, Italy, the UK, the Netherlands, Vietnam, China. The beach for short visits and the mountains for long visits.

Fave place to be in the whole entire world: Snuggled up with a book. Laughing with the people I love. And travelling. Anywhere.


How long have you been writing? Since I was a kid. My favourite subject was English and creative writing. I've been writing professionally for almost 30 years. My first magazine article was for Dolly magazine.

How old were you when you wrote your first book? I was 10. It was called You and Me - it was a kind of love story!

What was the first thing you had published?
My first poem was published when I was eight. It was called Slowly.

What was the first book you had published? I had my first book published in 1995 by Hodder Headline Australia - it was called You Name It and was about the naming process. It also featured a tonne of really unusual names and meanings. I love researching, so this book was great fun. It's now out of print.

How many books have you had published? I'll have 22 books published by the end of 2016. I have another seven or eight in production, and I always have around 10 manuscripts 'out there' doing the rounds!

How long does it take you to write a book? For picture books, that depends on my illustrator! If I work on the book part time (and wait for my illustrator!) it takes between six months and a year to put a picture book together, from writing it to putting it on the shelves. If I'm writing fiction, it can take between 6 months and many years.

How do you get the shiny bits on the cover of the books? I let the printer take care of that. It's called UV coating.

Where do your ideas come from? Everyday life. The little things that happen, especially when kids are around. I'm also really inspired by travel, art, reading and beautiful things like nature and illustration.

What do you think the secret to success is? Reading. Tenacity. Following your instincts. Doing what you love.

What are some of your favourite things? I love books, maps, calendars {especially advent calendars}, flowers, freshly-grated nutmeg, travel, reading and writing, raspberries, styling and photography, gardening, magazines, yoga, kids, open and honest people, kindness, throwing parties, design ... and organising things.

What are some of your least favourite things? I don't really like rabbit poop. I also don't like it when people tailgate, brag, spread gossip or are mean to others.

What do you like to do in your spare time? I love to read and write and draw ... which is pretty much what I do for work! I also love to travel with my family, bake delicious morsels, and get into the garden. One of my big loves is photography and I enjoy putting together lovely books featuring our travel photos and notes. I also love lots of different crafts, like papercrafting, working with fabric and . . . I absolutely LOVE to knit and crochet! Every winter, I crochet at least two blankets, as well as beanies, scarves ...

Where do you live? I live in Canberra with a lovely husband and two fabulous kids - Ella and Riley. We live in a paper house at the base of a book mountain.

Where is your favourite place in the world? Anywhere so long as it's with my family ... but I particularly love France, Italy, China, England, Vietnam and New York City. I also think Australia is the most beautiful and diverse country in the world.

What do you love most about writing for kids? Seeing their eyes light up when they make connections with the story. Seeing them laugh and enjoy the words and pictures. Knowing I'm adding, in even the smallest way, to the life-changing joy of full literacy.

What are you working on now? I'm working on some junior fiction novels (which I hope will become several  series) and I'm researching two new picture books for the National Library of Australia. Tina Snerling and I are just about to go into production with our fourth and fifth books in the Kids' Year series (An English Year and A Scottish Year came out in the UK in September 2015) and Jess Racklyeft and I recently celebrated the release of our first book together - Smile Cry (March/April 2016). I'm also working on my very first self-illustrated picture book, which is due for release in November 2016. Very excited about that!

What are you proud of? Being invited to be an Ambassador for the National Year of Reading (2012; final report), and, most recently, speaking at the Asian Festival of Children's Content in Singapore (June 2015). Being signed for my first illustrated book is something I'm really proud of, and, of course, my beautiful family. But most of all, I'm proud of producing work that will in any way entertain, educate or enlighten children.

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