Over a hundred and fifteen of my children’s books have been published, with companies ranging from Cambridge University Press and Penguin, to Walker Books and Scholastic.
Because I love researching and learning, there are books about bats and Bali, epidemics and how guitars are made. And because I like to spin stories, there is plenty of fiction too. I’m passionate about writing that inspires, that comes from the heart to make people gasp or cry or laugh.
A few of my books have been translated into different languages. And The Princess and the Unicorn has been read on Jackanory Junior on BBC4 in England. But I love all my book-babies.
I have also written over twenty-five plays and run a family-based theatre company presenting historical plays through NSW and the ACT. As a former academic, I taught English literature at Macquarie and drama at New England universities, and ran a theatre appreciation course for Auckland University.
Fairy tales have always fascinated me, and I’ve adapted a number of these for Marian Street Theatre for Young People (MSTYP), as well as writing original plays for them, all using fairy tale elements, as well as songs. Fairy tales are treasures that reflect the wisdom and values of a society, whispered around fires and winding into the ears of children. My latest play for MSTYP was Maya and the Sea Dragon, which was also published as a book.
I’ve loved words as long as I can remember. I luxuriated in the long ones, swooned to those that let me smell or hear what someone else did, and eagerly ran away with those that led me to other realities. Books were where I lived as a child, usually reading on the floor with my legs in the air.
So it’s not a surprise that in the end I’ve become a writer; I was always following that thread of a dream, among my passions for theatre, insects, rocks and fossils.
That’s what comes when we feel deeply, or when the world outside surprises us with a sudden gift, or takes us right out of ourselves.
I have learnt to recognise the feeling of a poem on its way: the sharpness of attention, the gathering of words and images, the need to wait, still, while the phrases gather and crystallise. These creations aren’t always perfect, but they are always a joy to give birth to, because you know that you’re creating something new. I publish my poems in on-line magazines world-wide, in books, and share them as tags to my emails. Like seeds, poems need to scatter – and perhaps take root in someone else’s mind.
Here’s a poem for you:
The breeze improvises percussion,
running its fingers along the
jacaranda’s feathery leaves,
rattling the clattery palm fronds
like a xylophone,
smooshing a wire brush across
a whole rack of gum-leaf drums
till the sunlight grins and
sways its hips in time.
Published in Meniscus, https://meniscus.org.au/.