What are your main interests?
nature, sustainable living, organic gardening, pets, zoos, people, social justice, travel, Eastern
philosophies, fantasy stories.
What is your earliest memory
It was not
very auspicious. I was about three years old when I was
chased up a tree by a ferocious bantam rooster. It seemed
like I was stuck up that tree for hours before my mum came to rescue me.
When did you know you wanted
7 (the first year of secondary school) I won first prize in a school poetry
gave me some valuable encouragement. The same year, my English teacher
predicted that, one day, I might write a children's book. Thanks Miss
What have been the nature-related highlights
of your life?
assisted a Ph.D. student with her field work on an Australian Fur Seal
colony in a restricted-access area on Kangaroo Island
We camped out for two weeks, braving the elements and living
rough; just three young women and a few hundred seals. It was
zookeeper had some perks, such as visiting a
colleague at another zoo who was hand-raising a young lion.
We "played" together (read that as me getting knocked over
repeatedly!). I also got to help on endangered species
recovery programs, which was very rewarding - helping to bring
more Leadbeater's Possums, Mountain Pygmy Possums, Eastern-barred
Bandicoots and Long-footed Potoroos in the world was fantastic. And I
will never forget the fun and bedlam of hand-raising baby Common
Wombats. Jackie French is spot on with her book, Diary of a Wombat!
course of travels with my husband, I have been utterly privileged to see many wild and
natural places. At the top of my list are staying in Etosha National Park in Africa, and visiting a Himba tribe in Namibia. Also, trekking through the Annapurna Mountains in Nepal (exhausting and exhilarating in equal shares!) and camping beside a
glacier in southern Argentina.
And New Zealand was spectacular too! (see below)
How can I become a zoologist
or zookeeper (and what is the difference)?
is a university-trained scientist who studies animals, and carries out research in a
laboratory, in nature, or both. Budding
zoologists need good grades at high school to get into a Science course
at University, and have lots of study ahead of them.
has usually studied a trade-level course through TAFE (that’s
“Technical and Further Education” for you
non-locals!). A zookeeper is responsible for feeding the
animals in a zoo, closely monitoring their health and wellbeing,
and making their environment a safe and positive one. Budding
zookeepers are encouraged to volunteer at their local Zoo over holiday
periods, or sometimes
experience can be organised through their school. It is a great way
to become familiar with the work involved (some of it is far from
glamorous!) and to establish a good reputation in the industry.
What are your sources of
inspiration as a writer?
life. Of course, there are some days when inspiration
does not take hold. On those days my writing time is spent
on routine tasks such as revising, and writing submissions,
queries and general emails. I think that this “nuts
bolts” work still counts as writing, and it certainly
needs to be done! You can't force yourself to be
creative, but it's amazing how sometimes a great idea or sentence comes along by surprise, in the midst of mundane
work or a daily walk. I find it useful to jot down ideas as they
along in a notebook that I always keep
rarely arrive at a convenient time), and refer to the
notebook when starting new projects or adding new points and ideas to
source of inspiration is my daughter. She gives me ideas,
and helps me keep in touch with my own inner child. We used to
read together a lot when she was younger, which I miss terribly. Now
I embarass her on our library visits by borrowing a zillion
Picture Books - for ME to study and enjoy (she keeps telling me she's WAY too old for those
now, but I think you are never too old for them!).
travels in nature also provide plenty of inspiration for my Non Fiction
books and articles. These Atlantic Puffins in Scotland ended up in an
you name some of your favourite children's picture books?
"Close Your Eyes"
by Kate Banks, illustrated by Georg Hallensleben, 2002,
Frances Foster Books.
by the Cool
of the Pool" by Tony Mitton, illustrated by Guy
Parker-Rees, 2001, Orchard Books.
Birdies" by Jane Simmons, 2005, Orchard Books.
Dogs Do" by
Jez Alborough, 2003, Walker Books.
Dazzler" by Margaret Wild & Janine Dawson, 2006, Working Title
"The Quiet Book" by Deborah Underwood and Renata Liwska, 2010, Houghton Mifflin Books for Children
"Fire" by Jackie French and Bruce Whatley, 2012, Scholastic Books
"The Boy on the Page" by Peter Carnavas, 2013, New Frontier Publishing
and many, many more.
"The Scorpio Races" by Maggie Stiefvater, 2011, Scholastic Books
"The Raven Boys" by Maggie Stiefvater, 2012, Scholastic Books
"Holes" by Louis Sachar, 1998, Scholastic Books.
"The Hunger Games" by Suzanne Collins, 2009, Scholastic Books
"Blood Song" by Anthony Ryan, 2011, Anthony Ryan
"Bridge to Terabithia" by Katherine Paterson, 1977, Harper Collins
Why do you
What advice can you give to
other aspiring writers?
Read and write every
day. Make time to write - even if it just 10 minutes a day. You will find a lot of very useful advice
on other authors’ and writing organisations' web pages. See
section if you need a place to start.
What are my favourite words/expressions?
Conundrum, bedlam, mayhem, dilemma...do I sense a theme emerging here?
What are my least favourite words/expressions?
take a decision, have a crack, at the end of the day, resonates, overarch, underpin, the bottom line (urgh!).
kookaburra, mountain pygmy possum, feathertail glider, eastern
blue-tongue lizard, whale shark, and a few thousand others.
Has anyone ever really asked
you any of these questions?
My, is that
the time? I must dash.