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

Tuesday 13 November 2018

10 Quirky Questions with author Susannah McFarlane

1.What's your hidden talent? 
 I’m not sure. I fear it’s hidden from me as well …

2.Who is your favourite literary villain and why? 
The Cat in the Hat – came in uninvited, completely trashed the house, traumatised the kids (not to mention the fish) – but with what exuberance and joy! And, to give him his due, he did redeem himself with Thing 1 and Thing 2.

3. You're hosting a literary dinner party, which five authors would you invite? (alive or dead)
Marian Keyes, because I could listen to nearly anything said in an Irish accent but I also think she is very funny and good-hearted. CS Lewis, so he could tell us all stories and convert everyone. Lionel Shriver, for provocative conversation. The Brothers Grimm, although I’d separate them. Oprah Winfrey, because she’d get everyone talking (which I would need as I would be completely intimidated by all my guests).

4. Which literary invention do you wish was real? 
The inflatable ironing board that the very clever Lachlan Creagh drew in Little Mates, Inquisitive Isabella – such a brilliant example of what illustrators can spin out of an author’s words. Or, further from home, the Wishing Chair so I could fly away anywhere – but would also take Moonface’s Toffee Shocks from The Faraway Tree.

5. What are five words that describe your writing process?
Erratic, hopeful, put off, fun, fraught.

6. Which are the five words you would like to be remembered by as a writer?
Honest, helpful, happy-making (albeit alliterative), feisty, read.

7. Picture your favourite writing space. What are five objects you would find there?
A large and long wooden table, notebooks (plain-covered, not too thin, not too thick so it can hold possibilities but not be too intimidating), glass beaker of Artline 200 black felt-tip pens (something about the nib make me think ideas come more freely, which is clearly nonsense but comforting), large glass bottle of water (so I don’t have an excuse to get up from desk), Apple iMac so if the notebooks do their work, I can start writing.

8. Grab the nearest book, open it to page 22 and look for the second word in the first sentence. Now, write a line that starts with that word. (Please include the name of the book!)
She. She laughed (from Fairy Tales for Feisty Girls because it’s on my desk at the moment …)

9. If you could ask one author one question, what would the question be and who would you ask?
Of Enid Blyton, how did you possibly write all those books?

10. Which would you rather do: 'Never write another story or never read another book'?
Oh gosh, that’s easy, never write another story! To be stuck with only my stories and no one else’s would be terrible – I know my stories, it’s the stuff I don’t know that I want!

Susannah McFarlane is best known as the author, creator and publisher of some of Australia’s most successful children’s book series, but she has also written successful non-fiction for adults. She is the founding director of Lemonfizz Media, a boutique children’s publisher that focuses on developing a small number of publishing projects across all content platforms, and a speaker on children’s publishing for the RMIT Editing and Publishing course. Susannah was previously the managing director of Egmont Books UK; the vice-president of the Egmont Group; the co‐owner, managing director and publisher of Hardie Grant Egmont; a contributor to the UK trade journal Publishing News; and the convenor of the Children’s Publishing Committee and Board Director of the Australian Publishers’ Association. For more information, see www.susannahmcfarlane.com.