Write what should not be forgotten.
Who am I?
I love books and I love bookshops. Oh, and, of course, I love figs. And dogs and beetles and turtles – oh and so many other things. But I do love books. I used to work in a rather wonderful, independent bookshop called Bookpassion in Canberra. It’s where I got to know the contagious joyousness of books that enchant little adventurers and those who read to them. And where I saw, firsthand, the power of story to intrigue and captivate even the tiniest of babies, who, from the moment they are born, begin to stretch and strengthen their imaginations and colour in the world around them.
For as long as I can remember I have been a reader. Books have taken me on adventures to places near and far, they have kept me warm when the world has seemed a cold and difficult place and their characters have been my constant companions who have made me laugh and see and believe.
It is said that a child who is lost in a good book will always find their way home. Little readers grow curious and enquiring minds, alive to the wisdom of wonder, they learn to see there are many ways of being in the world and they go on journeys to places, wild and true, and discover bold questions daring them to seek new answers. After all, what is a story, if not a quest to understand.
It takes courage and discipline to be a writer. Courage to believe that you have something to say even if your words on paper don’t have the magic of the writers you admire; courage to believe that your voice is the only one that can tell the stories inside you that yearn to be told; and courage to try, to risk, to fail – completely, disastrously, embarrassingly – and then get up and try again.
And discipline – well that’s the hardest and the easiest bit! Writers write – no excuses – they just do it. Then they go to bed and then they get up and do it again and again. They carve out moments in the midst of everything because the stories won’t stop clamouring to be told.
Pretty much everything I learned about the discipline of writing came from editing the local paper in the small, rural community where I live. Writing for the paper taught me to pay attention to the seasons and the weather and the shapes of what falls in between. It showed me that our stories connect us and hold us when we are hungry for things to believe in. And deadlines taught me a myriad of ways of dancing with discipline and that the writing is the thing, not the perfect thing.
In between reading books I have earned a living doing all kinds of things and discovering all kinds of stories along the way. I drove a Mr Whippy van and learned soft serve ice cream likes to imagine it is a volcano and will, under certain conditions, explode, leaving happy children covered in ice cream snow. I worked as a tour guide on boats cruising the Great Barrier Reef where I could sail through the tail end of cyclones and keep my sea legs steady but salt and vinegar chips made me seasick.
I have also taught some of the thousands and thousands of primary and secondary school students who visit cultural institutions in the nation’s capital every year and helped them discover the stories of our country and our peoples. And now I teach university students new ways of telling the stories of conflict and the ways in which we can resolve them.
In 2015 I was selected to be part of the ACT Writer’s Centre HardCopy Program – an initiative designed to support and develop emerging writers. In 2016 encouraged by the remarkable Nigel Featherstone I applied for and was awarded an Australia Council grant. This allowed me to work with the brilliant writer and editorial mentor, Sue Whiting. And then in 2017 Walker Books accepted Ten Little Figs for publication.
I am currently at work on my first novel and have three new picture books awaiting a home. Whatever happens, there are more stories queued up and patiently waiting their turn to be told. And just like my little fig tree that grew a fig that grew into a book I am always waiting to be surprised by what comes next.