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Tuesday 14 February 2017

12 Curly Questions with author Jodi McAlister

1. Tell us something hardly anyone knows about you.
I am a fairly open book, so this one is tough for me. But here’s one: For many years, I completely misread the word 'misled' and thought 'to misle' was a verb.

2. What is your nickname? 
My siblings occasionally refer to me as Big Jodes. It’s like an inverse Little John – I’m tiny and they’re all over six feet tall.

3. What is your greatest fear?
I’d like to say it’s completely humiliating myself in public, because that sounds like a completely reasonable fear, but it’s only No.2 on the list. The real answer is sharks.

4. Describe your writing style in 10 words. 
Frothy and creepy with jokes in places jokes don’t belong. (This goes for all my writing, by the way, not just my fiction. The amount of jokes people force me to cut out of my academic work ...)

5. Tell us five positive words that describe you as a writer.
Dedicated, disciplined, unafraid to rewrite.

6. What book character would you be, and why?
I would like to think it would be Flora Poste from Cold Comfort Farm. The idea of coming in and making people’s problems go away with a common-sense, no-nonsense approach, while wearing fabulous dresses, is pretty appealing to me. Although I would quite like to be Thursday Next from Jasper Fforde’s Eyre Affair universe. I feel like this would let me use my PhD for good (ie. fighting crime in literature).

7. If you could time travel, what year would you go to and why? 
I’d go to the early 19th century and spend some time hanging out with Jane Austen. I feel like we would be excellent, sassy best friends. I wouldn’t stay, though. I quite like being able to vote etc. And maybe I’d bring Jane back with me. She died relatively young and I bet modern medicine would save her life. Imagine how excellent her new books would be. Her satire of the 21st century would be so dry and excoriating.

8. What would your 10-year-old self say to you now? 
You mean I’m writing a book now but I’m not going to get published for another 21 years? You’re the worst, Future Jodi!

9. Who is your greatest influence? 
I don’t want to be that guy who’s all, “my greatest influence is my own genius", but I do find a lot of myself comes out in my writing. Otherwise, I draw influence from everywhere. I love stories in all media, and I can find inspiration and influence in the most oblique places if I come at it the right way.

10. What/who made you start writing? 
I honestly can’t remember. I’ve been writing for what feels like my whole life. A lot of my juvenilia was heavily influenced by my childhood reading, so maybe it was Enid Blyton that made me start writing.

11. What is your favourite word and why? 
Interrobang (the technical term for this punctuation mark – ‽ – which is a question mark and an exclamation mark stuck together). There’s a strange joyousness to the word which sounds exactly like what it is. I love its weird onomatopoeia.

12. If you could only read one book for the rest of your life, what would it be?
Jonathan Livingston Seagull, by Richard Bach. People always laugh at me when I say this, but I love the hell out this book. I’ve read it at least 100 times (to be fair, it’s pretty short).

Jodi McAlister is an author and academic who hails from the south coast of New South Wales, although she currently lives in Hobart. She is an Associate Lecturer in English at the University of Tasmania, and her academic work focuses on romance, love, popular fiction, and popular culture. She guarantees she knows more about The Bold and the Beautiful than you. Seriously, don't test her. She'll fight you. Valentine (published by Penguin) is her first novel. The sequel, Ironheart, is due out in February 2018. For more information, see www.penguin.com.au.