Some of the questions I get asked by kids, parents and teachers...
Will you come and talk to my class or a group at my school?
I LOVE school visits! Please get in touch and we can chat about it.
Do you write full time?
No. Writing fits around my teaching, editing the Write On magazine, and family things. I don't think I'd like to write full time, I get too much information and inspiration away from my writing desk. I do write everyday though.
Do you love writing?
Yes. Some parts of writing are harder than others, and the hard parts aren't always the same with every story or book.
Do you do more than one draft?
I do dozens and dozens of drafts! Sometimes something I've previously chucked out becomes useful again in later drafts and I use it again, sometimes in a completely different story. I spend a lot of time with my editors at Hachette polishing the story.
What do you think makes the perfect sentence?
It leaves the reader either completely satisfied or desperate for more.
What advice do you have for people who would like to get published?
Write. Keep writing, and then write some more. And read, read, read. Find a group of other writers to support you in your journey, join classes. Your Mum and grandchildren are not reliable critics so find someone who is, like a critic group or a manuscript assessor. And then once it's as good as it can be, submit it, but follow the guidelines on the publishers website to the letter.
Can you come and talk to my class or year group about your books and writing?
Sure can, drop me a line and we can talk about it.
Can we still get the books from The Worry Bug Project?
The NZ Red Cross has recently granted money for the Worry Bug resources to be revamped digitally in a new project called 'The Rising Tide' project for use online. They will be available in early 2024.
I'm a kid and would like to get published. Is that even possible?
Yes! New Zealand has some fantastic opportunities for kids to get their short stories and poems published, and opportunities for young illustrators and artists too. Check out Write On and Toitoi for more information. You can find copies of these magazines in your school and public library.
You write a lot in rhyme. Is that hard?
I love to write in rhyme and when I'm in the flow of a new book my thoughts start to follow the rhyming pattern, and then sometimes I even start speaking in the pattern which drives my kids bonkers. I listen to a lot of music while I'm doing other tasks and that really helps me find rhymes. I especially like Reb Fountain and Leonard Cohen.
I love getting emails from readers - I answer them all!
What made you write the book Rising Tide?
My first book was 'Wishes and Worries' and it was for kids from about 5-8 years old. Teachers liked using it and they asked if I would write one for older kids. The NZ Red Cross thought that was a great idea and agreed to help pay for the new book. I could see the kids at my own children's school were having some issues with anxiety from the earthquakes and so I was really motivated to write the book.
Can you tell me about the process of writing 'Rising Tide'?
It took about a year. First I thought about the character and setting. I spent a lot of time talking to Ari in my head. It really helps to do that when you're writing a story because once you feel you know your character well you can easily imagine them in different situations and you can imagine how they might react to something. Once I started writing the book I probably did about 12 drafts before I was ready for someone else to read it. The first person is often the developmental editor. They go through and check that it makes sense and the timeline is ok, they ask questions like 'could the Dad really climb back up the bank?' and 'would a kid really do that?'. Then the author makes more changes. Then it goes to the line editor (sometimes called a copy editor) and its their job to proof read it for any spelling mistakes, they also check any words in te reo etc. Then it's another check by the author and then it's usually ready for the designer to set it up ready for printing.
Why did you choose a main character that had anxiety instead of a hero?
I think this is an interesting question. I suppose we all have a different idea of what makes a hero. I think people who try to overcome difficulties are heroic. Ari has some anxiety but there is a lot more to him than just his mental health. We don't get to know everything about Ari in the book but we do find out that he cares deeply about his friends and family and that he's resourceful and brave. Having trouble with reading and worrying are just small parts of who Ari is. I think most people don't think of themselves as heroes but then something happens in their life and they have to find some strength to keep going that they didn't know they had, and they discover that they are heroes after all.
Did you write Rising Tide about someone you know or did you relate yourself to the main character?
Not entirely but most characters in stories have things about them that are from people the author has met. Ari is based on a kid that lived across the road from me when I was was growing up in Napier called Moira and Ari's Dad has some similarities from another Dad I know. The setting is mostly made up but there are parts of it that I got from Okains Bay and Karitane and put them together with some imaginary elements to make a new place. I wanted the reader to be able to imagine it easily but also to maybe feel like they might have been there once.