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

Saturday 22 February 2014

12CQ with author Lynnette Lounsbury

1. Can you tell us something hardly anyone knows about you?
I used to collect bones. (Ones I found … I didn’t kill anything!) I had a huge collection up in our back shed when I was a kid. I was planning on becoming a Palaeontologist. There was a full python skeleton, a horse skull, a few rat skeletons — lots of things. I had them all labelled and in display boxes. Of course, it didn’t always smell great and when a well-meaning friend dropped a cow skull at our house that hadn’t fully decomposed, my mum put her foot down and that was the end of it.

2. Do you have a nickname?  
Mostly I get 'L' — which is as short as my name will go, but there have been a few friends over the years who’ve called me Smurfette (just because it rhymes … I’ve never had blue hair) and my little brother still thinks its pretty funny to call me 'Fishnet' (it's not).

3. What is your greatest fear?
Swimming in places where you can’t see the bottom and it’s all slimy and gross when you put your feet down. I stood on an eel once and it bit me and I’ve never fully recovered from how revolting the experience was. Mostly I wear reef shoes in river water now, but even in the ocean I tend to keep my feet up.

4. Can you describe your writing style for us in ten words?
Action, coffee-fuelled, thoughtful, historical, intense, fairly serious, detailed, expansive.

5. What are five positive words that describe you as a writer?
Fast. Happy. Open. Determined. Hopeful.

6. What book character would you be, and why?
Scarlett O’Hara from Gone With the Wind. She knows how to get what she wants and she knows how to survive. I read this book when I was ten — probably too young to understand a lot of what she went through, but she deeply inspired me to care far less about what people thought of me and I’ve always been thankful for that.

7. If you could time travel, what year would you go to and why? 
1250 BC. This was right in the middle of the reign of Ramses II, my favourite pharaoh (doesn’t everyone have a favourite pharaoh?). He was a brilliant warrior, wrote cheesy poetry for his wife, built some incredible buildings that are still there 3000 years later, had over 600 children (there was more than one wife) — and when he almost got wiped out in a very important battle, he built a monument proclaiming it a huge victory. I like his style. He would have made for great conversation.

8. What would your ten-year-old self say to you now? 
Why aren’t you a Palaeontologist? What did you do with all my bones? Is Raphael still your favourite Ninja Turtle? Why doesn’t Afterworld have any unicorns in it?

9. Who is your greatest influence?   
This has changed throughout my life. I had a very brilliant English teacher in high school who helped me become much more confident as a writer. I’ve been very inspired by the life’s work of the Dalai Lama and his messages of non-aggression. My husband has been a great influence on my writing too — he is also a writer (though mostly a screenwriter) and we force each other to write, critique each other’s work (sometimes quite harshly), and help each other with plots that don’t make sense and characters who fail to do as they are told.

10. What or who made you start writing? 
When I was in grade two we used to get a newspaper every weekend that had a kids' section. You could send in poems and short stories to be published and I thought seeing my work there would be the best thing that could ever happen. They published a poem I wrote about Autumn (despite the fact that I rhymed 'done' with 'glum') and I was addicted. In high school I wrote short novels in school notebooks and loaned them out to my (very kind) friends to read. I’ve always been telling stories in one way or another.

11. What is your favourite word and why? 
Mudita. It means sympathetic joy. In other words you are able to be truly, really happy when something good happens to someone else. As opposed to slightly envious or blazingly jealous. I think it is an incredible thing to aspire to.

12. If you could only read one book for the rest of your life, what would it be?  
Gone With the Wind … it has everything. Unrequited love, a strong, powerful heroine, history, war, survival, stupidity alongside profound wisdom and of course, Rhett Butler. Like I said — everything you need in a book.

Lynnette Lounsbury's debut YA novel, Afterworld, is available now at all good bookshops and online; Allen & Unwin, $17.99 RRP. See our review here.

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