Only two days to go before the Williamstown Literary Festival? Are you ready? Tickets booked? Bathers packed? Okay, maybe not that last one, but here’s something even better: the Sensory Overload panel, moderated by the ever wonderful Danielle Binks featuring three #LoveOzYA authors, Robert Newton, Nova Weetman, and Lili Wilkinson. On June 15, they’ll be discussing what adventure to young readers means in a world in crises.
How often do you draw on your children’s own experiences in your writing?
I’m constantly observing and listening to everything around me and I think that’s important for a writer. I grew up in a family of boys and I work as a fire fighter so I treasure having three daughters. They are a wealth of information and give me so many little gems and bits and pieces that I use in my stories.
What would you say is your interesting writing quirk?
I’m not sure I have a writing quirk in general but sometimes different stories make me do weird things. For example, I wrote a book called ‘Runner’ which focused on a boy from a poor Irish family. While writing it, I got into the habit where I’d only drink Irish Breakfast tea. Also, in my new book, ‘Promise Me Happy’ there’s a character called Uncle Mick who loves The Bee Gees. Normally I like to write in silence but while working on ‘Promise Me Happy’ I had The Bee Gees Greatest Hits album playing in the background all the time.
What adventures did you embark on as a kid?
My adventures as a kid were mostly found in books. I spent a lot of time reading. I was particularly fascinated with Agatha Christie books and collected them for years. As a teenager, I used to try and write murder mysteries on a typewriter like she did! I even carried around a box of props that could help me. Strange things like horseshoes and ornate mirrors.
What do you find most rewarding about writing for young readers?
Because I write for younger readers I get many opportunities to meet them too. I find it really rewarding workshopping with young people, teaching writing and sharing a love of books and words.
What are you most looking forward to at the Williamstown Literary Festival?
My goodness, all of it! But I have to say I’m especially looking forward to watching the Sci Fi vs Fantasy debate.
What is the one piece of advice you would give to kids concerned about climate change?
Make your voice heard. The planet is yours, and if you don’t like what adults are doing to it, then speak up. It’s hard when you can’t vote, lawmakers don’t care much about what you have to say. But find ways to make them listen, and know that some of us have totally got your backs.
Check out the Williamstown Literary Festival program here, and make sure you grab your tickets!