Where were you born? Where do you live now?
I was born and raised on a farm near the country town of Eden Valley in South Australia. I now live in Adelaide.Where did you go to school?
My first school was Eden Valley Primary, a small one-teacher school that has now been closed for many years. After that I went to a girls' school in Adelaide, which meant living away from home. That was a rather difficult time at first. In the end I made some good friends there, and I was sorry when I had to leave (which I did at the age of sixteen).Did you have a nickname?
None worth remembering.What were you like in school?
I enjoyed learning things, as long as it wasn’t Maths or Chemistry. I suppose I was a bit of a girly swot. The thing I hated most was Gym, or PE. I used to hide in the library.What is the naughtiest thing you did?
Hide in the library. My best friend was naughty, but I wasn’t. I admired her a lot.What was your favourite book growing up?
I grew up at a time when there weren’t many books for children — nothing like the choice today. I loved just about everything I read. Some of my favourites were The Wind in the Willows
, Little Women
, Seven Little Australians
, Five Dolls in a House
, and anything by the wonderful E. Nesbit, who wrote The Railway Children
The books that made me laugh the most were Three Men in a Boat
and 1066 And All That
. I discovered Charles Dickens, Jane Austen and the Brontes when I was about fourteen, and never looked back.Who is your favourite children’s author?
Nowadays? Again, it’s very difficult to choose one from the many. For YA fiction, Philip Pullman. For younger readers, Emily Rodda. For picture books, the brilliant Emily Gravett.What is your favourite food/colour/movie?
Chocolate. Blue. Toy Story
.Who inspired you to write?
My family always gave me books for Christmas and birthdays. I grew up surrounded by books. I suppose wanting to write grew naturally out of that. And I had an excellent English teacher who encouraged me.How did you get started?
I wrote my first proper story as an entry for a literary competition run by Rigby, an Adelaide-based publishing house. I didn’t win, but I had a really encouraging letter from the publisher, which was almost as good.How old were you?
I was fourteen.Why did you want to be a writer?
It’s not unusual for people who read a great deal to decide at some stage that they’d like to try writing something. It’s a natural progression. I wanted to see if I could sustain a complete story. And then a complete novel.How do you think up ideas?
They come to me mostly when I’m not trying to think about them. I’ll see or hear something and it will spark my imagination.Do you have a special place where you write?
Yes, I have a little office at the side of our house, overlooking the front garden. It’s quiet there, and I can think.What is the best thing about being a writer?
The moment when an idea turns into a story.Have you had any funny or embarrassing moment as a writer?
Sorry, none comes to mind.What do you do when you are not writing?
Read.What would you have chosen to be if you were not a writer?
I was a book editor for most of my working life. That was really my dream job, so I was pretty lucky.Which famous person from the past would you like to talk to?
Jane Austen: she had such a wonderfully perceptive and witty take on the world. Also, although she’s not famous, I would love to talk to my great-great-grandmother, who in 1849 emigrated to South Australia, alone, at the age of eleven. Is there anything else you would like to tell us about yourself?
When my older brother and I were quite young, we created our own worlds, populated them with made-up characters, and wrote stories about them. We made the stories into illustrated books and bound them with cardboard and strips of fabric. I still have a couple of these treasures.Website/blog details