'The best books, reviewed with insight and charm, but without compromise.'
- author Jackie French

Thursday 1 July 2010

Author interview: Marianne Musgrove

Today on Kids Book Review, our special guest is Marianne Musgrove, junior fiction author. Her latest book, Lucy the Lie Detector, was released on July 1st.

Tell us a little about you: what’s your background, your story? I’m half Dutch, half Australian, Sydney-born and a descendant of King Henry VIII’s librarian (true story) so you could say books are in my blood. I wrote my first novel at age eleven: a romantic thriller featuring my unfortunate classmates. In high school, I was desperate to become a barrister but after two years in law school, I knew it wasn’t for me and became a social worker instead. It wasn’t until my late twenties, I returned to my first love, writing.

What genre do you write in? Humorous realism for children (junior novels).

What other genres have you written in? Literary fiction for adults, poetry for kids and adults.

Why do you write? I often wake up with stories in my head. They want to be written so I write them.

What do you love about writing for children? Kids have a great sense of humour and I love tapping into that. I have vivid memories of my childhood and enjoy thinking about that time in my life.

What are the greatest blocks or obstacles you have experienced on your book-writing journey? Overcoming the ‘I’ve got no ideas and I have no talent’ phase. I’ve learnt to wait out this feeling as it does pass. Then it comes back. Then it passes. Then it …

What’s a typical writing day? Get up, eat brekky, check email, do yoga, do one thing I’ve been putting off that’s really bugging me, do admin (book promotion, tax, writing articles, contacting schools to arrange visits), eat lunch, work on latest book, get up and look in fridge, force self to go back to computer and DO SOME WORK, daydream about what’s in fridge, give self a good talking to about said daydreaming, do some more writing, reward self with a chai latte, watch The Bold and the Beautiful (kidding!), write some more, sign off for day.

What advice do you have on writing? Write first, edit later. Many writers spend ages rewriting the first chapter of their novel, hoping to get it perfect before moving on. Forget making anything perfect at this stage. Just get it down.

Second, keep a diary. It’s amazing how often I turn to my old diaries for inspiration. If you start a diary as a child, all the better.

If you couldn’t be a writer, what would you be? Furniture maker, editor, bookbinder, potter, political advisor.

What books did you read as a child? The BFG by Roald Dahl, Anne of Green Gables by LM Montgomery, Joan Lingard’s The Twelfth Day of July series, Beverley Cleary’s Ramona books.

What else do you like to do, other than write books? Read 1940’s girls’ boarding school stories, sit on the beach, drink chai lattes with friends and family at coffee shops, discuss social psychology, eat orange chocolate.

What would be your perfect day? Sleep in, eat Weetbix with milk and honey for breakfast (in real life, I’m gluten, dairy and fructose intolerant, but since this is my perfect day, I am miraculously cured and can eat all these items), walk on the beach, have coffee with friends, read a good book, then top off the day by finding out I’ve been nominated for the Booker Prize, the first ever children’s author this has happened to.

What five words best sum you up? Creative, quirky, determined, cheese-lover.

What’s next for Marianne Musgrove? My first three books are being translated into various languages. I’m looking forward to seeing the Italian, Taiwanese and Israeli editions come out soon. Meanwhile, I’m working on a book about a boy called Sebastian and a girl called Romola and, who knows, maybe Lucy the Lie Detector will have another adventure.

Visit Marianne Musgrove's website

See our review of Lucy the Lie Detector