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

Tuesday 18 July 2017

12 Curly Questions with author Lisa Shanahan

1. Tell us something hardly anyone knows about you. 
When I was in my early twenties, I accidentally crashed my sister’s VW, whilst dressed as a fairy. I was running late for a performance at a birthday party and I was stopped at a traffic light, staring at a road map on the front seat, when my car suddenly lurched forward. I scrambled out, my glitter wings flapping in the wind, to a chorus of beeping horns and hoots. When the man I crashed into stepped out of his car, he took one quick look at the scratch on his bumper bar and then at me, in my foamy white fairy costume, and leapt into his car and sped away. 

2. What is your nickname? 
As a kid, I combed through name dictionaries, trying to work out a legitimate way to lengthen my disappointingly short first name. I pretended for a long time that my real name was Elizabeth, partly because it offered greater nickname flexibility. I could be Beth on the days when I was feeling a little tragic and Eliza on the days when I was feeling gutsy and determined. With a name that long, the possibilities were endless. These days, I am gracefully reconciled to being called Lis, by some of my dearest friends.

3. What is your greatest fear?
When we go camping by the coast with friends, I am rather well-known for being the only person to lie awake at night, contemplating a tsunami action plan; the efficacy of climbing up a palm tree, or the tennis court net, or just bolting up the only hill near our campsite, with a kid stowed under each arm, like sacks of potatoes.

4. Describe your writing style in 10 words. 
Funny, warm, fresh, poetic, tender. Enjoyable-to-read-out-loud.

5. Tell us five positive words that describe you as a writer. 
Persistent, observant, curious, always learning.

6. What book character would you be, and why?
Probably Anne, from Anne of Green Gables, because she is heartfelt, dreamy, stubborn and often funnily contrite about her failures.

7. If you could time travel, what year would you go to and why? 
I did have an intense Georgette Heyer period as a teenager and daydreamed extensively about being a high-spirited heiress, so the Regency years would be tempting. But, if I’m honest, I often have a deep longing to travel back to when my boys were toddlers. In those dizzyingly tiring years, I think I secretly suspected that sometimes my real life was hanging around the next corner, waiting to kidnap me and drag me into a car, to take me to the place where I was really meant to be. Now I have the wisdom to know that was my real life, in all of it’s sweet, glorious messiness.

8. What would your 10-year-old self say to you now? 
Gosh! Wow! All that imaginary play didn’t go astray.

9. Who is your greatest influence? 
In terms of my writing life, reading Anne Tyler is a constant revelation of all there is to learn.

10. What/who made you start writing?
The intensity of my love for reading as a child. The way so many children’s books wrestle so truthfully with the fierce goodness and the sometime sharp sadness of what it means to be human and especially with what it means to be a child.

11. What is your favourite word and why? 
I’m currently enjoying the word spangle because it’s so delicious to say out loud.

12. If you could only read one book for the rest of your life, what would it be? 
This is such an agonising question. Perhaps Cloudstreet, by Tim Winton.

Lisa Shanahan is an award-winning writer of picture books and fiction for young people. Her first novel for teenagers, My Big Birkett, was published to critical acclaim both in Australia, where it was short-listed for the CBCA Book of the Year for Older Readers, and in the United States. Her picture book Bear and Chook by the Sea, illustrated by Emma Quay, was the CBCA Book of the Year for Early Childhood in 2010. Her most recent picture book Big Pet Day, illustrated by Gus Gordon, was the Speech Pathology Book of the Year for Ages 5-8 in 2015. She loves moon-gazing, making up words, mango sorbet, mock orange blossom, black cockatoos, shouts of unexpected laughter, the weight of a scruffy dog resting on her knee and hot cups of tea. She lives in Sydney, close to the river of her childhood, with her husband and their three sons.