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

Tuesday 27 November 2018

12 Curly Questions with author Emma Quay

1. Tell us something hardly anyone knows about you.
I have read pretty much every book on decluttering known to humanity, but still have to practically climb into my studio.

2. What is your nickname?
Em to most, Em-Bem-Bom to a few, and Ema Datshi to my friend Jen (after the delicious Bhutanese national dish, made from chillis and cheese).

3. What is your greatest fear?
I think I might choose selfishness, because it covers so many things, from a motorist finding it essential to check out that notification on their mobile phone, to the way we are frittering away the earth’s resources.

4. Describe your writing style in 10 words.
Delighting in the ordinary, with buoyant, singsong wordplay and imagery.

5. Tell us five positive words that describe you as a writer.
Enthusiastic, observant, mindful, optimistic and appreciative.

6. What book character would you be, and why?
As a child I desperately wanted to be Maid Marian, beating the boys at swordplay and roaming the woods.

7. If you could time travel, what year would you go to and why?
I’d go back to any of the sunny English summers of the late 1970s, when our back garden was my whole world. My sister and I would run around the lawn flapping our arms in case this was the day we’d find we could fly, climb the elms that overhung the lane to listen to villagers’ conversations as they walked home from the post office, and use our penknives to carve twigs into peg dolls, colouring them with pigments we’d made from berries, crushed leaves… and sometimes bird poo, if white paint was required! We never had time for the grand puppet shows we’d planned, because by then Mum was calling us in for our bath.

However, thinking about it, I do go there every day — the memories of my childhood infuse all my work as a picture book maker.

8. What would your 10-year-old self say to you now?
Why did you stop climbing trees?

9. Who is your greatest influence?
My whirlwind of a mother who seizes armfuls of every day, and yet still manages to notice those fleeting flashes of joy in the humdrum. Mum’s catchphrase, “Golden Moment”, was always met with a groan from her teenaged daughters, but she was spot on!

10. What/who made you start writing?
All the ways I observed language being used sparely, creatively and wittily: in the picture books, joke books and poetry collections of my childhood, in our playground chants at school, in cartoon captions and speech bubbles, in folk songs around the campfire, in the playful riffs of The Two Ronnies… and because I realised words could add meaning to the pictures I’d been drawing since I was tiny.

11. What is your favourite word and why?
The rhyming word at the end of a verse, be it deliciously anticipated or unexpected. As a child I found great delight in rhyming texts, but I didn’t realise until later how important rhythm and rhyme are in the development of early literacy skills.

12. If you could only read one book for the rest of your life, what would it be?
A fabulously illustrated and eclectic anthology of children’s poetry would be wonderful, but if that’s cheating I’d have to whittle it down to Silly Verse for Kids by Spike Milligan.

Emma Quay is an illustrator and writer of many award-winning picture books; her memorable characters for Rudie Nudie, Shrieking Violet, Bear and Chook, Not a Cloud in the Sky, Good Night, Me and Scarlett, Starlet are favourites on children's bookshelves all over Australia, and her brand-new title for very young children, My Sunbeam Baby, has just been released.

Emma grew up in the English countryside, and has always loved to tell stories through her drawings. An Honours graduate in Graphic Design, specialising in illustration and printmaking, Emma now lives in Sydney and works from a studio in her home. Her illustrative work is held in collections around the world, including the Victoria and Albert Museum, London.

You can read more about Emma on our Meet the Illustrator interview post, or follow her on instagramfacebook and pinterest or check out her website