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

Tuesday 8 August 2017

12 Curly Questions with author Bren MacDibble

1. Tell us something hardly anyone knows about you. 
I once moved to a school with only three other kids in my grade, and none of them would talk to me.

2. What is your nickname? 
Bren, Brenny, MacDibble. My grandfather used to call me Buffy, but that was pre-vampire-killer Buffy, so way less cool.

3. What is your greatest fear?Global nuclear war, or global starvation, just the big things that look likely to happen.

4. Describe your writing style in 10 words. 
Raw, immediate, voicey (is that a word?), direct, informal, explorative, lively, impulsive, (10 is a big number!), positive, hopeful. Phew!

5. Tell us five positive words that describe you as a writer. 
Eternal student, obssessive wannabe-artisan. Those are positive, right?

6. What book character would you be, and why?
Ooh, maybe Artemis Fowl, because he has connections in the Fae underworld, has lots of cool tech, and has figured out how to travel through time. Also, he's not entirely good. That'd be hard work, being entirely good.

7. If you could time travel, what year would you go to and why? 
Maybe 10 years into the future, to see how everyone's going, because I seriously need a few ideas to figure out what that might look like for planning purposes, and maybe find out who won the Melbourne Cup for the next few years so I can fund my terrible writing habit.

8. What would your 10-year-old self say to you now? 
10-year-old me would say, “The world still exists when I'm old?” because 10-year-old me always thought Russia and the US would have a nuclear war. And I'd tell young-me about how it's now Russia, North Korea and the US threatening a nuclear war, and nobody has figured out how to stop them in all this time. Then I'd tell young-me about my book and 10-year-old me would say, “Why didn't you publish a book sooner? Because 10-year-old me was impatient, then I'd tell me about how I worked hard and travelled the world with just a backpack, and 10-year-old me would say, “But you already know New Zealand is the prettiest place in the world!” And I probably wouldn't mention that I now live in Australia, because 10-year-old me loved nature and the land, especially the land of New Zealand. And even though I have compelling arguments about the land in Australia and the size of the sky here, 10-year-old me is stroppy and pig-headed, and I want 10-year-old me to listen when I tell her all the people she shouldn't trust and all the people she should be kinder to. And I think 10-year-old me would only want to know about hover-cars and living under the sea and in space (the future we're both still waiting for), but she'd go away and think about the adventures she's going to have, and be a little happy for us.

9. Who is your greatest influence? 
Overall, probably my mother. She loves us kids with an unwavering fierceness. Like a mother lion. She reminds me of Peony, the main character in How to Bee, in the way she stands up for the ones she loves. It's nice to know no matter what I do, or how far I fall, there's that fire there, a little fury of love. It's a privilege to be loved like that. In all the world, she has that one thing to give.

10. What/who made you start writing?
Other writers doing it so well! I was reading to my kids and I was enjoying it more than they were. So then I enrolled in a night class with Rose Inserra, and she foolishly praised a couple of my efforts, so it was all on. I still turn back to amazing writers when I need inspiration, I still read the best books I can find, and read all the articles from writers who are willing to share.

11. What is your favourite word and why? 
I love 'Cher'! I don't think it's in the dictionary. It's a sound young Kiwi people make when they're about to make fun of something, or someone, or themselves. It's a sound that means, "listen up, friends, I find this funny...”. One little sound, delivered so perfectly, delivering a mood, setting up a shared joke. It's informal. It's inviting you in.

12. If you could only read one book for the rest of your life, what would it be? 
I know because I have it, and I've read it 20 times already! The Ice at the Bottom of the World, by Mark Richard. It won awards 20-something years ago. It's this weird little book of 10 short stories, but every story shreds my heart in ways I've never experienced before, and there's so much to discover in each story, because the narrator just tells the story, never stopping to explain, and you get to the end and wonder things like did the fairground-ride operator kill the kid's father on purpose? Is he the tattoo in the jail? Why did Fishboy get dumped in the swamp, and what is that thing in the middle of the lake that makes teaspoons go swimming off towards it?

Bren MacDibble was raised on farms all over New Zealand, so is an expert about being a kid on the land. She now lives in Melbourne with her family and a cheeky dog, works with gifted children, and teaches writing at TAFE. For more information, see www.macdibble.com.