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

Tuesday 24 March 2015

12 Curly Questions with author Andrew McDonald

1. Tell us something hardly anyone knows about you.
I read my own books out loud to myself.

I only ever do this when I’m writing or redrafting a story, but I find it really helps to uncover clumsy sentences, bad writing and typos. Of course, I only ever perform my books like this in private. If anyone ever overheard they’d think I was crazy or self-obsessed or possibly both.

2. What is your nickname?

Please, no cheeseburger jokes.

3. What is your greatest fear?
I’m not a big fan of snakes. Or anacondas. Or boa constrictors.

I put this fear down to a song we sang a lot when I was at kindergarten called ‘I’ve Been Eaten By A Boaconstrictor’, which was written by Shel Silverstein. The song wormed its way into my brain and continues to haunt me to this very day. I mean, why would someone being eaten alive by a giant snake start singing when they should be fighting for their life? Although, now that I think it through, maybe singing about the experience was the only way the victim could make sense of what was happening. Maybe the victim was an artist. Either way, I still bear the emotional scars from that song and continue to be terrified of serpents. And songs about serpents.

4. Describe your writing style in ten words.
Funny, weird and distracting so readers don’t see twists coming.

5. Tell us five positive words that describe you as a writer.
Impassioned. Persistent. Redrafter. Joke-teller. Truth-sayer.

6. What book character would you be, and why?
Probably Harriet the Spy, just so I could skulk around New York City’s Upper West Side in the 1960s.

7. If you could time travel, what year would you go to and why? 
I don’t think anything could possibly beat going back in time and seeing a dinosaur in the flesh. So I’m going to say I’d like to go back to 150,000,000 BC. The downside to visiting the time of the dinosaurs is that you’d probably be eaten by a hungry carnivore very soon after arriving. But that would be OK. I’d just save the trip until I was 90 years old and lying on my death bed. Then I’d be happy to go back in time and poke around for as long as possible, before being eaten by an Allosaurus.

8. What would your ten-year-old self say to you now?
Hey, cool – you still write stories. And you’re a published author! I can’t wait to read what I’ve written from the future.

9. Who is your greatest influence?
It’s tempting to say Roald Dahl or Hergé or Robin Klein, but in truth the biggest influence on my life (reading, writing or otherwise) has probably come from my parents. Among other things, they opened my eyes to the world of stories and reading from an early age, tirelessly reading stories out loud, putting books in my hands and making countless trips to the local library. Without their enthusiasm for books and stories back then I doubt I’d be where I am today.

10. What/who made you start writing?
I’m a graduate of RMIT’s illustrious Professional Writing and Editing course in Melbourne. I took a couple of subjects on writing for children and teenagers – taught by the amazing Clare Renner – and they completely caught my attention and focused me on writing for young readers. I’d always been a big reader of youth literature and I loved writing it the minute I started. Soon after that I had a book deal with Hardie Grant Egmont to publish my first children’s novel The Greatest Blogger in the World.

11. What is your favourite word and why?
I really like the word ‘Syrup’. For no particular reason other than it feels good to say and reminds me of Golden Syrup, which should be eaten off a spoon once a day for Maximum Life Enjoyment.

12. If you could only read one book for the rest of your life, what would it be?
Probably The Owl Service by Alan Garner. That book goes from spooky to exciting to hands-down bonkers. By the end I’m never quite sure what’s happened or where I am. A life rereading that book would be a life worth puzzling through.

Andrew McDonald is an Australian author of books for children. His work includes two junior fiction novels, The Greatest Blogger in the World (KBR review) and his latest book Son of Death, both published by Hardie Grant Egmont. Visit Andrew's website and Facebook page for the latest updates on his books and author events.

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