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

Tuesday 18 November 2014

12 Curly Questions with author and illustrator Belinda Landsberry

1. Tell us something hardly anyone knows about you.
I think I may be psychic. Not charms, or tarot cards or crystal ball psychic – I just have an uncanny intuition about certain things at certain times. It’s weird. But it’s also very cool!

2. What is your nickname?
Well, since childhood I’ve had many, including Minnie, Bindi, Boo Boo Bear and Miss Mouse to name a few. My family have always called me Minnie because my little sister couldn’t say Belinda. That’s why Miss Mouse has endured over the years as well.

3. What is your greatest fear?
Being stranded on a roller coaster either at the top of the biggest rise - or even worse – up-side-down! Aaaarrggghhh!!!

4. Describe your writing style in ten words
I write mostly in rhyme. I just can’t help myself!

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

6. What book character would you be and why?
(Great questions, by the way!)

Oooh, that’s a hard one, there are so many that leap to mind; but in the end, I would probably choose to be Scout from To Kill A Mockingbird. Why? Because Scout has a seemingly idyllic childhood. She has a brother who defends her at any cost, a father who knows just how much rope to give her, just how much wisdom to impart and just how long to rock her when she needs him. Ultimately, in spite of the time in which she lives and the shocking prejudices she witnesses, Scout stays true to Atticus’s teachings, defends her family’s honour and learns the underrated values of humility, compassion and gratitude. Yes, I’d be Scout.

7. If you could time travel, where would you go and why?
Well, it’s a toss-up between 1950s America and early 19th century England. I dare say I’d opt for the latter, but only if I could be born into upper middle class society and wear gorgeous French-inspired gowns framed by lacy bonnets as I rambled through the countryside. Naturally, I’d also be privy to sticky-beak jaunts through castle-sized mansions where I’d bewitch the handsome, but haughty owner into marrying me so I had plenty of time to write sing, draw and become very accomplished! The biggest draw-back, I imagine, would be not having anti-perspirant, tooth-paste or a hair-dryer at my disposal!

8. What would your 10 year old self say to you now?
I suspect she’d ask: “Will I really become a nurse and marry a handsome doctor?” To which I’d cryptically reply: “Yes, you really will become a nurse, if only for a little while. But you won’t marry a handsome doctor, you’ll marry a handsome prince!”

Then again, she may well ask: “If you could be my age again and live your life over, what would you change?”

To which I’d sagely reply: “Not a thing!”

9. Who is your greatest influence?
My husband, David. He never loses sight of his dreams.

10. What/who made you start writing?
I think I consciously started writing when I started kindergarten. But even before then I used to lie awake at night and swap “Apple Core Stories” with my brother, Adrian. He was 6 and I was 4 and we’d tell stories which involved apple cores. No idea why, but that’s where my story-telling skills began.

My mother also influenced me to write. Being a “wordaholic” she was always quoting from Shakespeare, reciting poetry (which never failed to rhyme) and singing. I took all of this on board and eagerly wrote and illustrated my first book at the age of seven which I called How to Become a Nurse. I still have it! Finally, my father being a “bookaholic” encouraged me to read, read and read some more. His favourite pastime was advising me to “get out the encyclopaedia before bed.” I didn’t. I got out the dictionary instead.

11. What is your favourite word, and why?
Believe. Because if you do, anything’s possible!

12. If you could only read one book for the rest of your life, what would it be and why?
Another brain-wracking question, but I would have to go with The Lord of the Rings by JRR Tolkien. I can’t recall how many times I’ve read it – but it’s quite a few! I’m drawn to it for many reasons. The realm of Middle Earth is fascinating, the characters are totally believable (despite there being a myriad of elves, ogres, orcs, monstrous spiders and hobbits to contend with!)

Speaking of hobbits; I could happily believe the rest but I admit hobbits were a stretch. Still, Tolkien convinced me. His plot is crafted beautifully, imagery stunning and character development so complete I can’t help feeling totally bereft every time I turn the final page. I only have one suggestion: If I had my way I’d find a monstrous pair of shears and cut out Tom Bombadil! He’s the only character that just doesn’t fit. Peter Jackson was obviously of the same opinion when he left him out of the movie trilogy, which, by the way was excellent!

Right, time to read another book!

Belinda Landsberry is an Australian children's author and illustrator. Her debut picture book, Anzac Ted, was published by EK Books in November 2014. Visit Belinda's website and Facebook page to find out more about Anzac Ted and her other writing projects.

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