Hi there! Thanks for stopping by. I’m so glad you came to visit me. This page is only for Very Important People (VIPs) – the kids I write for. That means you!
Here are some questions that kids commonly ask me, but if you’ve got anything else you’d like to know, just click on ’Contact’ on the top right and fill out the form.
Where do you get your ideas from?
I find them hidden in my garden every day right next to wherever my chickens choose to lay their eggs. No, not really. Ideas come from all sorts of wonderful people and places. Sometimes it’s something my kids say or do, or a conversation I overhear in the park or a song I hear on the radio. I’m forever coming up with new ideas. In fact, I have so many that sometimes I have to remind myself to sit down and write a book rather than just collecting ideas. As a children’s author I take a lot of notice of kids wherever I am. I love to see the world through the eyes of children. Kids are much better at noticing interesting things than adults and are usually much more curious.
The idea for Fish Don’t Need Snorkels came when my son (who was 3 at the time) said, “Mummy, a giraffe doesn’t need a ladder to reach the top of tree, does he?” I thought he had made an excellent observation and spent some time thinking about what other animals have been made just right. I scribbled down a few ideas and over the next year or so, those scribbling turned into Fish Don’t Need Snorkels.
Samuel’s Kisses came about after going on a shopping trip with my oldest son. He was only little at the time and sat up in the trolley while I got the groceries. As I put some Weet-Bix in the trolley, I looked up to see him blow a kiss to a complete stranger. The old man had been frowning as he walked past us, but when my son blew him a kiss, his whole face changed. The old man smiled and waved at him, before walking away with bouncing feet. It suddenly struck me how powerful a kiss from a child can be and I decided to write a book about it. Samuel’s Kisses was one of my very first picture books I ever wrote and is very special to me for that reason.
Did you always want to be a writer?
I didn’t know that it was possible for me to be a writer until I was almost grown up. I knew that people wrote books, of course (mainly because I read and read and read and read some more) but I had no idea that I could be one of them. I really thought you had to be someone extraordinary to write books, but the truth is, you don’t. I’m an ordinary mum (who used to be a teacher before I had kids) and you probably wouldn’t notice me if you walked down the street. I just happen to love words. I love the way they sound as they float off my tongue, the places they take me when I’m tucked up in bed at night reading and how they can make me laugh or cry and on very rare but wonderful occasions, both at the same time.
I have millions and millions of words floating around in my brain all the time, even when I’m sleeping. I talk a lot, read a lot and write a lot. My husband is really glad that I’m a writer now because some of my millions of words get written down rather than spoken. For a long time he was worried his ears might wear out.
Do you do the illustrations for your books?
Sadly, no. I wish I could draw but the fact is my 4-year-old son can do better than me. I’m limited to drawing houses made from a square with a triangle on top. On good days, I can manage to add a chimney complete with smoke.
For all of my books I rely on the talent of professional illustrators that my publisher chooses. These amazing artists take my little words and make them so much more than what I could have ever imagined them to be. Illustrators often tell more of the story with their pictures than I do with my words. And that’s just the way it should be.
Here’s something you can try. Choose a picture book you’ve never read before and cover up all the words. See if you can tell what the story is about just by looking at the pictures. Then go back and cover up all the pictures and just read the words. In my favourite picture books, you will get some information from the pictures and some information from the words, but it’s not until you read both the pictures and the words you get the whole story. (And my very favourite picture books are those where the illustrations don’t match the words, like Bruce Whatley’s Looking for Crabs. It’s like being let in on a secret that the characters in the book don’t know.)