Tell us about your latest creation:
The Cracks in the Kingdom is the second book in ‘the Colours of Madeleine’ trilogy. The Royal Family of the Kingdom of Cello are trapped in our world. Madeleine, who lives in Cambridge, England has been exchanging letters with Elliot who comes from a farming town in the Kingdom of Cello, through a crack in a parking meter. Now Madeleine and Elliot must work together to locate the Royal Family, figure out how to open up the crack, and bring the Royals home.
Where are you from / where do you call home?:
I grew up in the north-west of Sydney, spent a few years living in the US, the UK and Canada, and now I’m back in Sydney. I live close to the harbour and beaches. I like being near water. When I lived in Montreal, I kept looking for the coast.
I wanted to be an author from when I was about six. I also wanted to be an astronomer, an astronaut, a flight attendant, a teacher, a psychologist, and a movie star.
What do you consider to be your best work? Why?:
I always have trouble with this question. I think it’s a bit like being asked to choose your favourite child. And what if I chose one, and then one of the other books happened to see my answer here? How hurt would he/she be? I’d have to pay for therapy for him/her for years.
I like all my books for different reasons eg Feeling Sorry for Celia, for being my first book and having a lot of me in it; Finding Cassie Crazy (or The Year of Secret Assignments) because I love the characters; Bindy Mackenzie, because I feel protective of Bindy because everybody hates her, and so on. I’m proud of A Corner of White and The Cracks in the Kingdom because I spent years imagining the Kingdom of Cello, months researching colours, science, and music, and they are closest to what I want to write.
Describe your writing environment to us – your writing room, desk, etc.; is it ordered or chaotic?:
Most mornings I work at one of the outside tables of a local cafe. So my writing environment is noisy, sunny (or rainy, cloudy, stormy etc) and cluttered (there is nowhere to put my tea because the table is always covered in notes, textas and pens). In the afternoon I work at my desk in my study. It’s always important to me to clear the desk completely and tidy up the room before I begin writing. That’s probably just procrastination.
When you’re not writing, who/what do you like to read?:
I read a lot of children’s and YA books. Some of my favourites are Diana Wynne Jones, Louis Sachar, Libba Bray, Frank Cottrell Boyce, David Levithan, Rachel Cohn, E.L. Konigsburg. Some of my favourite writers for adults include Lorrie Moore, Lisa Moore, Virginia Woolf, P.G. Wodehouse, Emily Dickinson, John Donne, Carol Shields, Alice Munro, Barbara Kingsolver, Karen Joy Fowler.
What was the defining book(s) of your childhood/schooling?:
In primary school, the defining books were E. Nesbit’s The Phoenix and the Carpet, Roald Dahl’s The Magic Finger and James and the Giant Peach, Madeleine L’Engle’s, A Wrinkle in Time, Enid Blyton’s, The Folk of the Faraway Tree. I could go on for a long time.
In high school, it was F. Scott Fitzgerald’s The Great Gatsby and Virigina Woolf’s A Room of One’s Own.
If you were a literary character, who would you be?:
I always imagine I am Elizabeth Bennett, but I think a lot of people imagine that about themselves. I grew up identifying with Clover, the second sister in What Katy Did. Like me, she was a second sister with a charismatic older sister she adored, and she was quiet but sometimes funny. And I was very taken with her name.
Also Eva Ibbotson wrote some great historical romances with heroines who were quite ordinary-looking but whose faces scrunched up when they smiled, and who therefore caught the attention of the sexy male hero. I’m pretty sure my ordinary face scrunches up when I smile.
Apart from books, what do you do in your spare time (surprise us!)?:
I have a seven-year-old son named Charlie so mostly I spend my spare time trying to get him to do his homework, or trying to get him to stop throwing balls around the apartment. (‘There’s quite a lot of thudding up there,’ the man who lives downstairs said to me the other day.) I’m also addicted to baking cakes (especially anything with ginger and cinnamon), and I am learning the cello, and, if there was a frozen lake anywhere, I would like to skate on it.
What is your favourite food and favourite drink?:
Favourite foods include chocolate, blueberries and fine-quality peach; favourite drink, champagne or hot chocolate.
Who is your hero? Why?:
My hero is my mother because she raised six children, took care of over 50 foster children, and made every single child feel special. She seems like a gentle, quiet person but actually has a wide streak of stubborn strength and a wicked sense of humour. My dad is also very impressive to me because he built up a big successful surveying business out of nothing, learned how to fly planes and helicopters, and he can fix things.
Crystal ball time – what is the biggest challenge for the future of books and reading?:
The fragmentation of the concentration span. Nobody wants to read more than two or three lines any more.