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

Tuesday 26 November 2013

12 Curly Questions with Katherine Battersby

1. Tell us something hardly anyone knows about you.
Ooh – that is curly! Considering I’m quite a mild mannered person, it might surprise people to know that as a teenager I slapped my brother in the face … with a cake mix.

We usually got along quite well, but we were trying to bake a cake together while home alone, which was a recipe for disaster (gotta love a good cooking pun). I was likely being a bit bossy and he was annoying me and getting up in my face. I was holding the unopened cake mix in my hand. Finally I snapped. I slapped him with it. I was so shocked I’d done it that I immediately burst into tears. He was so shocked by my reaction that he burst out laughing!

2. What is your nickname?
You know, embarrassingly enough, Squish was actually one of my nicknames. There we go. I said it. Not just out loud either, but in writing. Here’s why: ever since I was a little girl I have been very cuddly. I love to snuggle and cuddle and snook up close to others. I’ve been told I’m nicely squishy when I give hugs.

3. What is your greatest fear?
Drowning. A strange fear, considering I spent most of my life on the beach. I think it came from the fact that when I was eight-years-old we moved to a house on a cliff top overlooking the ocean. I was terrified a tsunami would wipe us off the hill, and at night the sound of the waves filtered into my sleeping mind and gave me awful nightmares. But it never stopped me swimming and boating and loving the water. I only ever feared the water when I wasn’t on it.

I also have an irrational fear of cockroaches. And empty houses. And chickens (so does Squish Rabbit). It turns out I have lots of fears!

4. Describe your writing style in ten words.
Playful and quirky with a good dose of heart.

5. Tell us five positive words that describe you as a writer.
Hmmm … concise? Honest. Playful. Sensitive. And ridiculous (definitely a positive word – you need to have a sense of the ridiculous to write for children).

6. What book character would you be, and why?
Probably Christopher Robin. I was so in love with Pooh, but I didn’t want to be him – I wanted to know him. How thrilling to be able to escape into the forest out the back of your house and have a whole world open up to you. I love Pooh’s attitude to life, and his simple philosophies on living.

7. If you could time travel, what year would you go to and why?
Any time I named would have to be a romanced version of that time. For example, I love the idea of the Middle Ages but am not so into disease and poor hygiene (I’d be a practical time traveller). So instead I’ll have to say: I’d go back to the time my partner was a child. I actually think we were quite similar kids, and I could have really done with a friend like him. I also think I would have really liked him as a teenager – I often think it would have been fun to grow up together (a strange kind of thought, I know).

8. What would your ten-year-old self say to you now?
‘Why did you give up roller skating? You know how happy it made you.’ (It’s the closest you can get to the feeling of flying).

Also, unlike my teen self, my ten-year-old self would not be in the least bit surprised to discover that I am a children’s book author and illustrator. Ten-year-olds are so much better at listening to their hearts – my teen self was much more fearful.

9. Who is your greatest influence?
Definitely my mum. She instilled in me that I could do anything I put my heart into. I never doubted that she’d support me in whatever I chose in life. And I wasn’t wrong.

10. What/who made you start writing?
Writing was something that was there for me in a great time of need. I experienced a very sudden and world altering loss when I was a wee thing and, as quite an internal child, writing was my way of processing it all. It quickly became my way of finding out about the world and interacting with it. It still is, I suppose.

11. What is your favourite word and why?
Persnickety. It has all my favourite things a great word should have. It looks good on the page. It’s glorious to say (go on, try it and see how it bings around your mouth). And it sounds like what it is.

I may just be a little persnickety myself.

12. If you could only read one book for the rest of your life, what would it be?

Can I be controversial and chose a wordless book? The Arrival, by Shaun Tan. It has such a rich and emotive story world, with characters I love and illustrations I could pore over forever and always. I’d never run out of things to discover within the pencil lines of this story.

Visit Katherine's website for more information about her writing and her picture books Squish Rabbit and Brave Squish Rabbit.

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