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

Tuesday 28 March 2017

12 Curly Questions with author Robert Newton

1. Tell us something hardly anyone knows about you.
When I was little, I wanted to play the trombone, like my grandfather, but my arm wasn’t long enough to fully extend the slide valve. Instead, I took up the trumpet and played for many years. I have a black belt in karate and I love yum cha.

2. What is your nickname? 
I have a few actually, most to do with my surname, Newton. I get Bert, Isaac and Juice. Also, I have been known to like the occasional afternoon nap, so at the fire station where I work, one of my workmates came up with the nickname Mouch. (Half man, half couch). Very cruel. 

3. What is your greatest fear?
That we will continue to pretend we are not harming our planet.

4. Describe your writing style in 10 words.
Character is everything to me. I trust my instinct. Goodbye.

5. Tell us five positive words that describe you as a writer. 
Honest. Inquisitive. Heartfelt. Humorous. Real.

6. What book character would you be and why?
Tintin, for sure. I loved him when I was younger. I loved his dangerous adventures and the exotic places he went to. In fact, I was kind of obsessed with him. I made my mum knit me a white turtle- neck jumper. We also had a family dog called Snowy.

7. If you could time travel, what year would you go to and why?
Probably early seventies. I’d like to go back as an adult and see Elvis Presley play live. 

8. What would your 10-year-old self say to you now?
When you’re up on that ladder, painting the eaves on the shed, make sure the ladder is steady.

9. Who is your greatest influence?
I’m not sure if it’s an influence, exactly, but people in general interest me. I’ve always found the differences in people fascinating. The little things, especially.

10. What inspired you to start writing?
I used to write letters to my younger brother when he moved to Switzerland. I was a hopeless letter writer so I started making stuff up. After a while, those letters began to morph into stories. He rang me up one night and said, ‘You need to do this for real’.   Funnily enough, the first story I wrote was about a boy growing up with dyslexia. It’s a story about my brother.

11. What is your favourite word and why?
Dad. I have three glorious daughters.

12. If you could only read one book for the rest of your life, what would it be?
That’s curly, alright. I think maybe a Raymond Carver book of short stories.

Robert Newton works as a full-time firefighter with the Metropolitan Fire Brigade. His first novel, My Name is Will Thompson, was published in 2001. Since then, he has written six other novels for young people, including Runner, The Black Dog Gang and When We Were Two, which won the 2012 Prime Minister’s Literary Award for Young Adult Fiction. Mr Romanov’s Garden in the Sky is his most recent work. He lives in Melbourne with his wife and three daughters. See www.penguin.com.au.