Julia Donaldson called ME up on stage to be ‘Lanky Len’ in live performance of ‘What the Ladybird Heard’ at Melbourne Town Hall. But her assistant chose another Lanky Len, so Julia told me apologetically to sit back down. Still grieving.
2. What is your nickname?
At school kids called me ‘Willo’ or ‘Polar’ because in summer, my leg hair went white like a polar bear! In recent times, a few friends have called me ‘Tinsel’, because I used to sound ridiculous sharing Hollywood gossip on Triple R’s Breakfasters show.
3. What is your greatest fear?
Electrocution. I’m even scared of static electricity.
4. Describe your writing style in ten words.
Readability above pretension. When in doubt, humour or heart. Story.
5. Tell us five positive words that describe you as a writer.
Perceptive, natural, unaffected, humorous, disease-free.
6. What book character would you be, and why?
I’d be the mother in Where the Wild Things Are who sends Max to bed without eating anything, but then softens because she’s so hopeless at discipline and makes him supper after all, which is still hot, even after all the sailing-in-and-out-of-weeks palaver. It’s very much how discipline works at our house too.
7. If you could time travel, what year would you go to and why?
I’d travel swamp-side to the moment the first amphibian elbowed its way out of the primordial slime and I’d show it an iPhone and that app that allows you to identify music that’s playing in restaurants.
8. What would your ten-year-old self say to you now?
Do they still have Bubble-o-Bills?
9. Who is your greatest influence?
Nick Hornby. And also my year 12 English teacher, John Allen.
10. What/who made you start writing?
My mother fostered the love of reading, and has kept up the steady flow of books, even now. In the 90s, I spent a few years writing letters and emails to friends studying overseas. I enjoyed it so much, and had such positive feedback, that I started submitting pieces to the newspaper. It probably started from there. Also, I was so unhappy as a lawyer I had to try something.
11. What is your favourite word and why?
Happenstance. It has a beautiful cadence. If I own a racehorse one day, which I won’t, for the same reason no children’s author ever will, I will call it ‘Happenstance’. It will become the people’s champion and they’ll call it ‘Happy’ for short.
12. If you could only read one book for the rest of your life, what would it be?
David Mitchell’s Cloud Atlas. At least it’s sort of six books.
Tony Wilson is the author of books for children, middle readers and adults. Stuff Happens: Jack was shortlisted for the 2015 Readings Children's Book Prize. His picture books The Princess and the Packet of Frozen Peas, The Thirsty Flowers, Harry Highpants, and most recently The Cow Tripped Over the Moon are storytime favourites. He's also worked in radio and television, mostly for the ABC (The Einstein Factor, Race Around the World). Visit Tony's website and Facebook page for more information about his books and other writing projects.
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