Tell us about your latest creation…
Red Samurai is book 2 in the Roxy Ran trilogy for readers aged ten and up. Roxy is now the White Warrior. She has a secret crush she is desperate to keep secret plus the school bully to deal with. Roxy’s sister, Elecktra, has always been a great magician, but when she shows off her magic tricks at school, the town of Lanternwood begins to transform with a sense of samurai and the ninjas are no longer safe. There is an enemy lurking and it soon becomes clear that the White Warrior is about to meet her match. Red Samurai is a fantastic read for anyone dealing with bullies or struggling with their confidence. If you love romance, martial arts, magic and adventure you’ll love this book.
Where are you from / where do you call home?
Melbourne, Australia. I also feel at home in any dojo or book shop.
When you were a kid, what did you want to become? An author?
I wanted to be an author. Every time I blew out the candles out on my birthday cake I wished for the same thing – to be a published author. I should have been an elite Taekwondo athlete, but I liked writing action more than seeking it.
White Ninja. It was my debut novel and endorsed by literary legend John Marsden. Creating Roxy Ran and her world was so much fun. I wanted to read a story about a girl who was strong, went on adventures and stood up for herself.
Describe your writing environment to us – your writing room, desk, etc.; is it ordered or chaotic?
I have a writing room at home. A very messy desk with a collection of 20 ninjas standing at attention beside my computer. There are piles of manuscripts, a patchwork of post-its and towers of kids books swallowing up my big Mac. I write next to a window that has a palm tree in the distance and I love watching how the leaves change throughout the day from spiky with sharp afternoon sun to feathery when I first wake up at dawn.
When you’re not writing, who/what do you like to read?
Kids books. I like to meet as many kid characters as possible. I also love poetry. Emily Dickinson is my favourite. I also like to read books for big kids. I’m currently rereading Lolita. And I love humour – David Sedaris can’t be taken out in public.
What was the defining book(s) of your childhood/schooling?
John Marsden novels. I was lucky enough to be taught by John at school. He lit the flame for writing when I was in Grade Five. I won a John Marsden award for creative writing and my heart was set – I wanted to share stories too. John signed one of his books for me ‘to Hall-of-fame writing’ and the book sits on my writing desk for inspiration.
If you were a literary character, who would you be?
Alice in Wonderland. She had such a wonderful adventure and I agree with Lewis Caroll in the importance of believing in nonsense before breakfast. As a children’s author you’ve got to believe in nonsense to make sense to your audience.
Apart from books, what do you do in your spare time (surprise us!)?
Lots of ninjaring. I’m a 5th Dan black belt so I love to practice my kicks and take classes. I love to do anything that exercises my body or my imagination. I play the piano and have a grand piano I love to bash every day. Bubble baths. Movies. Washing puppies. Talking to my chatty parrot. Teaching kids martial arts and self-defense. Working on TV. It’s all fun stuff that allows me to meet really interesting people and experience unusual situations.
What is your favourite food and favourite drink?
Food = mango. And chocolate. I wish a chocolate covered mango existed! Drink = cofffeeeeeee. My only vice. I know being a health nut I should be into green tea but I just can’t give up my steamy mug of coffee first thing in the morning.
Who is your hero? Why?
JK Rowling. She introduced so many kids to reading. Harry Potter was rejected over and over but she didn’t give up. She was on a mission to share her story and the world is better for it. Other heroes of mine are anyone battling illness. You don’t know a real fight until you’ve been really sick.
Crystal ball time – what is the biggest challenge for the future of books and reading?
The digital age. Books are slow to write and slow to publish. They are competing with the immediacy of blogs, e-books and apps. Publishing in the traditional sense could become irrelevant as more bookshops shut down and distribution changes. But I don’t think this will happen. How could we live without the smell of a new book! People are busier than ever and time poor. For many, reading has become a luxury not a necessity. Attention spans are more frenetic too. Kids are more visual than ever through social media and posting their lives through photos. Creating pictures with words could become a thing of a past unless we continue to work together with technology to promote reading through really cool books and authors.