Many years ago I had a pet African frog named Vonnegut. I was living in America at the time and bought him at one of their incredible pet stores. My budget only extended to amphibians but he was a pleasant- if not very cuddly- pet.
2. What is your nickname?
My partner, Tim, and a lot of my friends call me “FK”. I also get “Katsy”.
3. What is your greatest fear?
CAMEL SPIDERS! They’re truly terrifying. Type those two words into google images and they’re guaranteed to become your greatest fear too. I’m not normally arachnophobic but these creatures are the stuff of nightmares. Fortunately it’s unlikely I’d ever venture into camel spider territory so it’s also unlikely my nightmares will ever be realized.
4. Describe your writing style in ten words.
Entertaining and informative in an honest and humorous way.
5. Tell us five positive words that describe you as a writer.
Curious, exploratory, celebratory, funny, and frank.
6. What book character would you be, and why?
I’d be Harold from Harold and the Purple Crayon by Crockett Johnson. When I was about 4 or so, I actually thought I was. I waited until nobody was around then got out a big purple crayon and tried drawing in the air. To my surprise, I discovered I was just a normal child with a disappointingly normal crayon.
7. If you could time travel, what year would you go to and why?
I’m not sure what year exactly but I’d go to back to mid 17th Century Easter Island. I’d like to see what that society was like and discover the story behind those big stone statues.
8. What would your ten-year-old self say to you now?
“I knew you’d still love Uncle” (see below)
9. Who is your greatest influence?
It’s not so much who as what- the Uncle books by J.P. Martin. With their hilarious characters, pithy British writing and absurdist sensibility they are lost masterpieces of children’s literature. They’re also peppered with perfect pictures by Quentin Blake, my all-time favourite illustrator.
Even though I first read these books as a 9 year old, I still love them with a passion bordering on fanaticism, fuelled by a firm belief that good children’s literature is good literature full-stop. My kids love Uncle too, which is fortunate as I would otherwise be forced to disown them.
10. What/who made you start writing?
I can’t remember when I started writing. I’ve done it in some way or another for as long as I can remember, whether it be stories for my own enjoyment, letters for friends or articles for magazines.
For the last 19 years I’ve worked as a freelance cartoonist. Cartooning is the art of the metaphor, juxtaposing images and text. Cartoonists may not use many words but they have to choose them very carefully. It really hones your writing skills and gives your vocabulary a workout.
11. What is your favourite word and why?
Saskatchewan. I’ve never been there but I LOVE the sound of it.
12. If you could only read one book for the rest of your life, what would it be?
Now that’s a tricky question- only one for the rest of my life…?
It’s not my favourite but it’d have to be War and Peace by Leo Tolstoy- a) because it’s long and b) because there’s enough exploration of the human condition, philosophising on war and the nature of power and straight-up good story telling that you’d never get bored.
Fiona Katauskas is an Australian author, illustrator and cartoonist. Fiona's latest book is The Amazing True Story of How Babies Are Made (published by HarperCollins), a picture book resource for parents who need to have THAT talk with their children. Visit Fiona's website for more information about her cartoons, writing and illustrations.
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