Jackie French, author of Dinosaurs Love Cheese & The Girl from Snowy River
Tell us about your latest creation…
Dinosaurs Love Cheese: for every child who loves dinosaurs — and cheese.
The Girl From Snowy River: World War I is over, but it still haunts the mountains. Flinty McAlpine lost a brother when the Snowy River men marched away. The man she loves won’t talk to her. But on a rock in the mist she meets a ‘ghost’ from the future, crippled in Vietnam: a man who needs to speak about the war that none of his friends will discuss with him, as much as she needs to hear. The second in the saga of Australia that began with A Waltz for Matilda.
Where are you from / where do you call home?
The Araluen Valley (NSW Southern Tablelands), cliffs streaked with eagle droppings, a wombat under the bedroom, the sugar gliders eating the blossom from 800 fruit trees, an a possum who snores above my study.
When you were a kid, what did you want to become? An author?
Always — no matter what — a story teller
Pennies for Hitler, Diary of a Wombat, a Waltz for Matilda: all somehow achieved much more than I could have given them..
Describe your writing environment to us – your writing room, desk, etc.; is it ordered or chaotic?
20,000 books, 200 wombats, wood, glass, pottery (gifts, not chosen), 3 wombat skulls, a table of seeds, another of manuscripts, a desk of scribbled notes, an apple core, two coffee mugs, a spider called Bruce, and the possum with sleep apnoea.
When you’re not writing, who/what do you like to read?
Atwood, Pratchett, Haldeman, Trillin, Steingarten, plus about 500 more.
Brave New World by Aldous Huxley), at age 7. Didn’t notice the sex scenes, just the realisation that ‘life will not always be like this.’ Great Dialogues of Plato, ditto: Socrates the youth of Athens to ask questions, unlike both home and school.
If you were a literary character, who would you be?
Every writer includes aspects of themselves in each book they write.
Apart from books, what do you do in your spare time (surprise us!)?
Can sharpen a chain saw, load a musket, milk an echidna, grow a five course dinner, but am functionally innumerate, dyslexic, and can’t spell hipop…hypop..that big grey animal from Africa.
What is your favourite food and favourite drink?
Fresh bread and tomato salad with new olive oil, cold water, apple pie with hazelnut pastry, Jonathon and Cornish Aromatic apples, but mostly: lots!
Who is your hero? Why?
Socrates: the unexamined life is not worth living; and integrity.
Crystal ball time – what is the biggest challenge for the future of books and reading?
Withering attention spans.