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

Saturday 19 July 2014

12 Curly Questions with author Kathryn Apel

1. Tell us something hardly anyone knows about you. 
When I was a baby, I slid out of the pram and into the gutter — and my mum was so embarrassed, she almost left me there.

2. What is your nickname? 
I was dubbed Mrs Katswhiskers by a group of Preppies 5 years ago, after I sent them an email with my katswhiskers logo down the bottom … and it’s stuck. I’m glad, cause it sounds adorable! Especially when they’re going through that toothless stage. (Though it does cause some confusion with the parents.)

3. What is your greatest fear?
My greatest? I’m a woman of many fears. But on a mundane — daily threat scale, I think I’d have to say …

If there’s one thing that I dread,
it’s a trip out to the shed,
when the moon has chased the sunlight far away.
For I know, without a doubt,
that the monster lurks about,
’cause by night is when the Huntsman seeks his prey.

So my spotlight scans the beams,
seeking out the brilliant gleams,
of the beady eyes upon the spider’s head.
When I can delay no more,
then I dart in through the door,
To stand, peering high and low inside the shed.

My imagination flares,
lest he catch me unawares,
for that spider is a threat I can’t ignore!
But I think he smells my fear,
and it draws him ever near,
as I fumble in a frenzy through my chore.

With my torch I wildly sweep,
lest my nemesis should creep,
from behind a post or some such shadowed place.
For I have this vivid fear,
that the huntsman will appear,
to pounce! – And scurry, right across my face!

Shrill and frantic are my cries,
when I see the glinting eyes,
that strike terror and revulsion to my core.
Not a creature of my mind,
but a huge and hairy kind –
for that huntsman isn’t hiding anymore!

Worse! – I’m stuck inside the shed,
with the monster that I dread,
’cause there’s one place I forgot to check before!
Though my mind shrieks, “Run away!”
yet my limbs cannot obey,
for I see that spider, poised above the door!

— ‘Hairy Huntsman Spider’ © Kathryn Apel

4. Describe your writing style in ten words.
snappy bits
clichés out of place

5. Tell us five positive words that describe you as a writer.

6. What book character would you be, and why?
I used to always say Elizabeth Bennet (Pride & Prejudice) — because I love her loyalty and passion — her strength of character, and her flaws. And who wouldn’t want to wear the gorgeous dresses of that day? (And fall in love with Mr Darcy!)

But I think I’d also like to be Ruby, Leroy’s big sister in Bully on the Bus. She too has that passionate loyalty like Elizabeth Bennet — that strength of character, with a little bit of feisty thrown in. I like that.

7. If you could time travel, what year would you go to and why?
I’d revisit a year when both of my boys were little — to see those chubby faces creased with smiles, and hear again the shrieks of gurgling laughter. I love my teenage boys (!) but I do wish those early years didn’t pass so quickly — and so irretrievably.

8. What would your ten-year-old self say to you now?
You have a computer! Everything you do is so NEAT now.

9. Who is your greatest influence?
My family. That saying of ‘write what you know’ is true for me — and what I know has been shared with, or inspired by, my family.

10. What/who made you start writing?
I started writing while I was on leave from teaching and at home with my two young sons. We loved reading picture books, but as the mother of farm boys, I couldn’t find stories that accurately represented our Australian farming situation. So I wrote them.

About this same time we had one of those horror years where everything broke, burnt, bruised and blistered (and that was just our bodies) and those family disasters became humorous accounts in rhymed verse to express a stress and share with family … who suggested I enter them into competitions … where they did well … Having discovered a tenacity for perfect rhythm and rhyme, I started to weave that into my picture books …

11. What is your favourite word and why?
I love words! And you want me to find a favourite? This is a really tricky question!

Today’s favourite word is ‘vivacious’. It sounds and feels beautiful in your mouth, with a delicious blend of sharp and smooth – but it also brings such a luscious, lively image to mind.

(Actually, ‘luscious’ could be my favourite word tomorrow …)

12. If you could only read one book for the rest of your life, what would it be?
How long am I allowed to live for? ;) I’m sorry, but I cannot answer this question, because it’s just too hard!

Kathryn's latest book is Bully on the Bus (read our review here); UQP, $14.95 RRP.

If you are an author or illustrator who thinks they are BRAVE enough to answer our questions, 
OR if there is an author or illustrator you would like to hear from, LET US KNOW! 
We will see if they are up to the task. Just email: susanATkids-bookreviewDOTcom