Tell us about your latest creation:
My latest creation is the end result of a six year commitment to the Woody Creek series, 160,000 words to add to the 800,000 plus of the previous five. Readers who have followed Jenny from her birth in 1923, will, in The Tying of Threads, celebrate with her as she approaches the new millennium – then bid her a fond farewell – as have I.
Where are you from / where do you call home?:
I was born in Echuca, in country Victoria. My childhood was spent in small towns on either side of the Murray River. I married in Echuca then moved to Melbourne where I remain.
As an eight year old, when all things are possible, I decided that when I grew up I was going to write books about Australia. It took a while but I got there in the end.
What do you consider to be your best work? Why?:
That is asking a mother to choose her favorite child. Mallawindy’s labor was ten years long and I remember every year of it, but Henry’s Daughter made me laugh when I didn’t feel like laughing and One Sunday was my faithful companion through the dead of many dark nights. I’d choose them.
Describe your writing environment to us – your writing room, desk, etc.; is it ordered or chaotic?:
Back in 1990, my first big bulky old computer and desk found a home in a spare bedroom, with the excess chairs, filing cabinet, elderly bookshelves and sundry. Spare rooms too soon become store rooms. Some years ago, mine made the transition to junk room. The junk forced me out to work in the family room, on a laptop, where my husband reads newspaper items of interest aloud and the television flashes its commercials. Chaotic? Oh, yes – but out of chaos comes creation.
When you’re not writing, who/what do you like to read?:
My most recent read was Gone Girl. I enjoyed it. I will read any genre, if the characters are strong enough to make me care if they live or die. Many books I begin don’t make me care and these days I don’t have the time to waste on them. As ever, if I am in need of a good read, I’ll reach for one of my old faithful friends who never disappoint.
What was the defining book(s) of your childhood/schooling?:
Man Shy, by Frank Dalby Davison, stumbled on in my primary school’s small library. I was eight years old. Until opening that book and finding Australia between its covers, I’d believe that authors only lived in England and America. Twenty-odd years ago I stumbled again on that book, at a garage sale, where I snatched it, and paid over my twenty cents so I might add it to my top book shelf where only the most prized of my odd collection live.
If you were a literary character, who would you be?:
Superman – though my husband may suggest Frankenstein.
Apart from books, what do you do in your spare time (surprise us!)?:
I play canasta with my grandchildren. Having managed to addict three of my seven early to the game, they keep coming back for more. I sew during the cricket and tennis season when the television plays nonstop, and have been known to play around with oil paints and canvas.
What is your favourite food and favourite drink?:
A scotch filet steak, fried fast in butter, served with mashed potatoes, green beans and caramelized onion rings. My favorite drink, a champagne cocktail.
Who is your hero? Why?:
A much abused four letter word, hero. Other than my eighty-seven year old aunt, I don’t have heroes.
Crystal ball time – what is the biggest challenge for the future of books and reading?:
It is my hope that a good book will always be read, however, the life style of today’s child will dictate the future of books. Unless we can trap him early with the magic world that lives between the covers, he won’t become a reader and without him, the book may die.