An Author Questionnaire
Random House asked me to fill out a new questionnaire. I'm obedient, so I have done so. Here it is.
1. When did you start writing?
When I was a kid, for school. My grade four teacher Mrs Street called creative writing splurge – because she wanted us to just splurge words over the page. But I didn’t always love it. In Grade One we had to write a sentence or two of ‘News’ every day – it had to be true. I mean, how much actually happens to a six year old? I went home, I played, I had sausages and potatoes for tea. Hard to spin it out for 200 odd days of school in a year. One day I hid my News book so I wouldn’t have to do it and I think it actually worked for a few days. Well that’s my memory of it anyway, however faulty. But I remember the teacher’s assistant finding it under the art table so I obviously didn’t hide it well enough.
2. Who or what was the biggest inspiration for you to become a writer?
:| It was obviously a deeply profound moment because I can't actually answer this question. Will have to think of a good story involving a chance encounter with a kindly yet impossibly famous stranger who just happened to be in the park on a wintry afternoon.
3. What are you reading at the moment?
Right now I’m reading Incurable by John Marsden. Good grief, how many ways can one girl almost die before she’s old enough to vote. I think death by cow is going overboard. Somewhat. I have a few books lined up – Alias Grace by Margaret Atwood and I Capture the Castle by Dodie Smith (which I’m saving for a cosy day). To my three year old, The Elephant and the Bad Baby – my own copy from childhood.
4. Who are your three favourite authors and why?
I’ve got a gazillion – so I better add the disclaimer that this list is subject to change at whim.
Rumer Godden. Because she writes beautiful books for children, teenagers and adults and because she has a lovely name. And because I get lost in her books.
Simon Armitage. Because his poems are as absorbing and character filled and as compulsively readable as a good novel.
Bob Graham. Because I read his books aloud to my little girl every day, and every day they sound more and more like poetry to me – I think his books must be night-flowering, in secret on the bookshelves when my daugher is sleeping the books grow and change. I am a bit in awe of him actually.
5. What is the best thing about being an author?
Reading kids books counts as research. I get to live with stories and characters in my head for much much longer when I write a book than when I read one and I get (some) say in what happens to them.
6. Are any of your characters taken from real life?
Oh yes. All my characters are really ME! Ha ha. But they are. Kind of. Writing’s really just a kind of acceptable disassociative disorder.
7. Where do you do your writing?
On the couch, on my laptop. Outside under the grape vine.
8. When you’re not writing what do you do?
Muck around on the Net – I am part of an online mother’s group that’s just become a big noisy shrieking gaggle of friends. Walk. Visit. I am a stay at home mum too, to Frederique, almost 3, and Una Pearl, 6 months. – I scribble when they’re asleep or distracted by snails and Daddy. They are terribly naughty, but that’s okay, so am I so we have a marvellous time.
9. What are you working on at the moment?
The third and final book in the Undine trilogy. And I’ve started a blog which may become something…another book maybe. Actually I have a few irons in a few fires.
10. If you weren’t an author what would you be?
An archaeologist – I actually started to be one, but got distracted along the way.
11. Do you have a favourite quote or motto?
“Be bold and mighty forces will come to your aid” Goethe
12. What advice would you give to young writers?
Write. Write and write. Write for fun, write for yourself, write what you know, write what you love. Write the book you want to read. Find a voice, make it strong, make it distinctive, make it real.