1) Who is your favourite fictional character? What was your favourite children's book growing up?
My favourite fictional character is Luna Lovegood, from the Harry Potter series. I love how she is just unashamedly herself – strange and flawed and quirky and smart. She is the bravest character in the books, in my opinion, because she not only has to fight the magical villains, but she has to fight off bullies amongst her peers, as well. All while never wavering in her convictions and beliefs. I love her so much.
I was fourteen when Harry Potter came out, so I missed having it as a kid. My favourite books, growing up, were all the titles in Tamora Pierce’s Tortall universe, but especially those featuring Veralidaine – another brave, odd, fearless girl. I wanted to be her so much!
2) How many books have you written/published?
I’ve had nine books published, so far, plus translations, but as to how many I’ve written …
At least another fifteen full-length novel manuscripts and maybe twenty picture book manuscripts, some of which have been consigned to the metaphorical “lock box beneath the bed”, never to be seen again, and some of which I am still hoping will be published one day. Some books just work better than others and some just haven’t found their time yet. I think it’s really important to keep writing, constantly, even after you get a manuscript accepted. I have books that will be published over the next three years, which is a lovely (if odd) feeling!
3) Tell us 3 interesting things about yourself?
I have six tattoos, one of which is a Harry Potter reference – it’s the last line in the books, “All was well”. I got the tattoo under a beautiful glass dome, while talking to John Marsden. True fact.
I believe that my grandfather is a crow, and he came to visit me when I received my Ena Noel award (he flew into the library and refused to leave)!
My favourite singer is called Josh Ritter. I once travelled all the way to Oxford in the UK to see him play. I never wear a tee shirt that isn’t a Josh Ritter tee shirt. I have over twenty of them!
4) How do you feel when you finish writing a story? How is this similar/or different to how you feel when you finish a story?
When I finish writing a story, I’m filled with joy, because this means my favourite part of the writing process is about to happen – the editing! I know many writers hate editing, but I love it. For me, the first draft is just getting words on the page and the editing is when the story is properly written. It’s nothing like when I’m reading. When I’m reading (a good book, anyway), I’m fully immersed and at the mercy of the writer. The characters and plot live inside my head and I’m not troubled by whether to use “horrified” or “dismayed”, and whether peryton would fight with their antlers. Writing is like solving a problem, to me, and reading is like being given a solution.
5) What does your writing schedule look like?
I am a full-time mum, so my writing schedule is completely at the mercy of my daughter – as I am writing this, she has come into the room five times to ask me to come and buy some pets at her “pet shop”. I really should go …
I get up at 4:30 every morning to write and I write until my daughter wakes.
While she’s at school, I write from the moment I get home from drop-off, until the moment my alarm goes off to go and pick her up. Exceptions to this are when I’m volunteering in the tuckshop, the library or the extension learning program my daughter is a part of, or on sports and excursion days.
I have no social life. I can’t see this changing for the foreseeable future. But I wouldn’t have it any other way.