Lara and I met at the Asian Festival of Children's Content a couple of weeks ago and we shared drinks in the pool, butter squid at Maggie's restaurant, and we were all kinds of happy cats at the local markets. Lara is a great writer and blogger. You should check out her website/blog. I was really impressed with how she promotes herself on the interweb. Click on her picture or her name and you'll see what I mean. Now I'd better answer those questions...
What am I working on?
Now that I'm back from my year in New Zealand I'm delving more deeply into my West Australian experience. I'm on a bit of a mission to 'write' WA and so far it has produced two picture books - Hello From Nowhere, due out any day, and Something Wonderful, the story of a 6yr old physicist growing up on a farm in rural West Australia. A third picture book manuscript has leached out of me now too, like the salty water leaches out of our red, dusty soil. It's called The Boot Tree and it is about a fly-in-fly-out Dad and his son, Jai. Like most little boys Jai likes to stomp around the house in Dad's boots... I'm still working on that YA novel set out at the roadhouse too. A more grim look at life out in the Nullarbor, it is called Straight to Nowhere. Got to stay busy!
How does my work differ from others in the genre?
Everything I'm writing these days is about place and I think that's what sets these stories apart - the awesome setting and how it impinges on my character's lives.
We have a remarkable landscape here in WA and you can have adventures and experiences here that you can't have anywhere else in the world.
Why do I write what I write?
I've struggled to come to terms with being a Kiwi/Australian (I've spent half my life in each country) and writing about people and place has helped me figure it all out. My hope is that by writing about it I might help a reader struggling with the same things. It's also a chance to celebrate everything cool about New Zealand and Australia too! From a very young age I wanted to make a difference so that's another good reason why I do what I do, and I get to do it here, in my comfy chair, with my cat, Ginger Fish, and my pretty, green fern garden out the window.
How does my writing process work?
It's all a bit spooky really. I sit down and on a good day my characters sit right down with me (along with Ginger Fish) and together we head off on some new adventure or other. We explore places and feelings and I go over it all a brazillion times until everything feels real. Somehow there is a neat, kind of circular story to show for all my hard work at the end so I guess it's kind of non-thinking and instinctive, but that only comes after careful preparation and planning. I always have a mental image of the whole story before I begin the channelling thing!!! Oh, and like Lara I need lots of tea. Rooibos with manuka honey is my favourite.
Now it's time to tag some folks so here we go!
Susanne signed a copy of her first book in her incredibly successful I Am Jack series for my son, Jack, when he was still swimming around in my womb and later in life I used it to teach him how to handle bullies at school. You would be very proud of the young man my Jack turned into, Susanne!
When I was learning how to write picture books I looked long and hard at Liliana's book Amelia Ellicott's Garden (illustrated by Stephen Michael King) so I could get it right!
Norm wrote another 'Jack' book that again left a huge imprint on my Jack's soul, (as well as my own.)
Jack's Island is about two great friends, Jack and Banjo, who find a Japanese soldier's helmet and rifle on Rottnest Island where they lived back in WWII. My Jack walked in Norm's character's shoes as if he was right there, messing about with Banjo and their delightful friend, Dafty.
Norm also wrote The Last Viking, illustrated by James Foley. Doesn't look like much of a viking though, does he? Smile's too warm and friendly. Thank goodness for his name!