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

Saturday 13 December 2014

12 Curly Questions with author Susannah McFarlane

1. Tell us something hardly anyone knows about you. 
I would really – really - love to be a back-up singer in a band. Sadly, I am unlikely to achieve this as I suspect I am  tone deaf – my kids certainly tell me I am. Oh well.

2. What is your nickname?
I don’t have one.  I wish I did now, I need to think about how to get one ….

3. What is your greatest fear?
Besides losing the people I love, probably losing my sense of humour- almost everything is bearable if you can laugh at least a little.

4. Describe your writing style in ten words.
Fun and adventure with both the story and the words.

5. Tell us five positive words that describe you as a writer. 
Fun, caring, optimistic, possibilities, changing

6. What book character would you be, and why?
Bessie from The Enchanted Wood. I just loved the Faraway Tree stories when I was little! I still remember being read, in grade 2, the opening chapters of The Enchanted Wood and wishing that I too was climbing up that tree, ducking Dame Washalot’s dirty washing water and visiting those lands at the top of tree.

7. If you could time travel, what year would you go to and why? 
I would go to 2114 and hope that not only had we learned to love our planet and ourselves a bit more but also invented hover boards. I would also like to check out how my great-grandchildren were doing.

8. What would your ten-year-old self say to you now? 
Aren’t you lucky that you don’t have to draw your own illustrations anymore?!

Art, like singing, is not one of my talents and I did labour on my projects at school, trying to draw telescopes and pictures of my holiday, none of which looked like anything like the wonderful concoctions I pictured in my mind! Luckily, I worked out I can draw with words.

9. Who is your greatest influence?
In life, my mum. She was kind, wise, patient and funny, a pretty enviable combination.

In writing, probably Mum as well. As a poet and she was an excellent role model for the precision of writing. Poetry and picture books are all about precision – using only those words that absolutely need to be there and will work hard. Prose should be too, of course, but sometimes laziness can creep in with the spaciousness of all those sentences!

10. What/who made you start writing?
I’ve always written for myself – it’s an excellent way to sift through your thoughts – but the decision to write for other people besides teachers didn’t come until very late in life when I was over 40 and was having a break from publishing. I wanted to write an adventure story for my daughter who was then ten years old. I wanted to write her a story where girls did stuff, brave and adventurous stuff and where they were the hero of the adventure not just the side-kick. And so, Emma Jacks, code-cracker and Agent EJ12 was born – as was Susannah McFarlane, writer. I was so used to being on the publishing side of the book fence, I didn’t even have my name on the title page – I put it in code!

11. What is your favourite word and why?
Discombobulate – it’s almost onomatopoeic in that it sounds like it means, to throw into a state of confusion.

12. If you could only read one book for the rest of your life, what would it be?
I suspect would be cheating to say the Collected Works of Shakespeare (so much to read, so much to learn and love) but perhaps I can say the work of TS Elliot because I still don’t think I really understand him but could spend the rest of my life happily trying to!

Susannah McFarlane is the author of several successful junior fiction series including EJ12 Girl Hero, EJ Spy School (KBR review), Boy vs Beast and Little Mates (KBR review). She is also the series editor of the Stuff Happens books, which are written by several well-established authors including Will Kostakis and Oliver Phommavanh. Visit Susannah's website and Facebook page to find our more about her latest books, events and writing news.

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