So, you want to know even more about me huh?
Well let’s see… I was born in Perth, Western Australia and grew up when the Ninja Turtles were pretty much the coolest thing around. My dad worked in zoology and my mum was a graphic designer, and so I decided quite early on that I was either going to grow up to be an intrepid entomologist discovering rare insects in remote places, or a famous artist like Freda Kahlo.
I was interested in a lot of things when I was a kid, especially science and adventure. I kept a book of detailed, drawings of all the insects, I discovered in our garden. I liked to look them up in books later to find out interesting facts about them. But the more cool things I found out about the world, the more I wondered about what else might be out there. So these nature studies eventually gave way to my biological imaginings of fairies – fully categorized into type and habitat, with cross sectional drawings of the trees in which they presumably lived. I would begin to speculate about what fairies might eat, or what their daily lives might be like…
You see, another main interest of mine was stories. Books, songs, movies, plays… any kind of story would inevitably end up the fodder for a new drawing, fantasy or game of my own. My little sister was often bullied into playing a number or roles in my live action adventures. Here she is on my shoulders as we walk around in a trench coat pretending to be a “grown up” and here is another of me forcing her to live inside my Jackson-pollock-esque cardboard box house.
I guess what I liked most was ideas. Books were full of ideas, science inspired ideas and art allowed me to depict ideas. All of these things eventually contributed to a rather over-active imagination.
I started writing in high school. I had to catch a bus and train from Fremantle to Perth every day so I started keeping a journal of all the things I saw, thought and imagined on the way. I found the more I wrote the more I wanted to write. One afternoon my English teacher came running after me across the school car park. He said he thought I should be a writer, and publish a book. This was something that had never occurred to me before. But after that it was my secret and most desperate goal.
A year later I wrote to Tim Winton for advice. His answer ended with “No guts no glory.” I had considered going into science, after all it was still a favorite subject of mine. But I knew deep down that I’d never envy anyone who was a scientist, but if I didn’t do art I would feel a pang in my heart every time I went to a library or art gallery. So I took Tim’s advice and threw myself straight into it. I went to study fine art and creative writing at university as a double degree, straight after high school.
Some people ask me why I ended up writing for children, as opposed to adults. Truthfully I just sort of fell into it after a lot of experimentation. For some reason, anytime I needed inspiration I always went back to the feeling of wonder I felt as a child. Seeing my first firework display, the smell of a campfire, watching waves rolling inside-out from the bottom of the sea floor. I know that when I turned thirteen I vowed never to grow up, so it’s possible that I never really did.
After uni, I spent my time writing, painting and traveling around the world. I have managed a gelato store, had fun presenting at festivals and I have worked with kids, (dressing up in crazy costumes, cooking with too much food coloring and generally goofing around). I found myself a nice biologist with whom to watch cartoons, and for our honeymoon we went to see creatures in the Amazon jungle (just like intrepid entomologist explorers!)
As for the future? Well… I have a lot of plans including an american road trip with my children, writing in a castle, owning chickens, cycling across Italy sampling gelato, and maybe even becoming a famous artist like Frida Kahlo… Most of all though I hope to keep writing, painting and dreaming.