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

Tuesday 5 September 2017

12 Curly Questions with author Steph Bowe

1. Tell us something hardly anyone knows about you. 
When I was 12, I ran for primary school captain and painted my face blue to signify that I was a 'true blue' Aussie. (Sadly, I was not elected school captain, despite my clearly brilliant political mind. I delivered a speech that referenced Vincent Lingiari while the national anthem played in the background. I should probably be Prime Minister right now, I'm that good.)

2. What is your nickname?

It's just Steph. Which is what I go by as a professional writer. That's probably very Australian of me.

3. What is your greatest fear?
Cane toads. En masse. Like Alfred Hitchcock's The Birds, but with cane toads.

4. Describe your writing style in 10 words. 
Humorous yet heartfelt, authentic yet quirky, realistic yet ultimately hopeful.

5. Tell us five positive words that describe you as a writer. 
Curious, impulsive, fanatical, earnest, idiosyncratic.

6. What book character would you be, and why? 
My favourite series as a kid was the Max Remy series by Deborah Abela and I wanted so much to be a spy like Max Remy (or maybe Alex Crane, who is a fictional spy Max invents). If I were going to exist in a book, I would definitely want to be in a middle-grade novel. I think they're much less dangerous for characters than books for older readers. There was always a lot of excitement and adventure and nearly-getting-killed in the Max Remy series but I don't think anyone ever died. Avoiding death is very important to me, so it's probably safest if I'm a main character.

7. If you could time travel, what year would you go to and why?
I would travel into the future to the point where we've solved global warming and world poverty and I can live in a utopian society where everyone's kind to each other. (Of course, I have learnt from Young Adult fiction that every utopian society is actually a dystopian totalitarian state...)

8. What would your 10-year-old self say to you now? 
My 10-year-old self would be really impressed that I've published three novels. But she would also be amazed that I'm the same person I was as a kid. I think when I was 10 I would have thought that by the time I was 23 and an author I would be very sophisticated and grown up. Which
I'm not.

9. Who is your greatest influence?
As a reader, there are so many writers that have influenced me that it's impossible to single out just one. On a personal level, my mum is definitely my greatest influence, since she exposed me to so many amazing books and ideas as a kid, and has encouraged and supported my writing my whole life. I don't think I would be a writer if not for her. If you want to pursue a creative career, you definitely need people around you who believe in you.

10. What/who made you start writing? 
I adored picture books as a kid. I started 'reading' and making up the stories before I knew what the words meant. I particularly loved books with pictures of food, such as The Very Hungry Caterpillar. As I learnt to read and became obsessed with stories, I wanted to recreate that experience of escapism with stories of my own. My novels, unfortunately, do not feature pictures of food.

11. What is your favourite word and why? 
I have a new favourite word all the time. I used to love 'diaphanous'. I think it sounds like what it means. Lately, I've enjoyed 'demagogue', probably because it's relevant to current world politics. Today, I'm going to pick 'Mephistophelian', from the demon in German folklore. It's fun to say and although it's not usable in most everyday conversations, when it is relevant it's a lot more evocative than all it's synonyms (fiendish, wicked, devilish).

12. If you could only read one book for the rest of your life, what would it be?
Should I be practical? A non-fiction book would probably be helpful. If the only book I could read was Gray's Anatomy, I'd probably have more useful knowledge than if I chose a novel. But do I want useful or do I want enjoyable? It's borderline impossible to pick just one novel. After the last question, I choose a dictionary. Learning new words will always be both interesting and educational. (And I'm allowed to write books, and then read them, right? I could attempt to write my favourite novels from memory.)

Steph Bowe was born in Melbourne in 1994 and now lives in Queensland. She has written two earlier Young Adult novels: Girl Saves Boy and All This Could End. Steph is currently a Stella Prize Schools Ambassador for Queensland. See stephbowe.com for more information.