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

Tuesday 9 April 2019

12 Curly Questions with author/illustrator Jess Racklyeft

1. Tell us something hardly anyone knows about you.
I went through a stage of leaving secret little notes for people to find, in tree trunks, by riverbanks, on trams. I liked the idea of someone pausing for a moment in the day and finding something unexpected (although I can’t really recall what these letters said, and was far more focused on the actual placing of them that what they contained. I like to think they were little world love notes).

2. What is your nickname?
I’ve had plenty over the years (as a glasses-wearing lass the worst was Spesstacles) but really it's mainly Jess or Jessie now! (Officially my name is Jessica but I feel very proper, and not very me, when I get called that.)

3. What is your greatest fear?
Tragedy. This covers a lot – from an individual scale – like losing a loved one, to big, global disasters like the greedy destruction of our environment.

4. Describe your writing style in 10 words.
A new art form to me – rhyming, somewhat corny, but heart-warming.

5. Tell us five positive words that describe you as a writer.
I think I need my first authored books to be out in the world for at least a little while in order to feel a bit more comfortable doing that! (Insert the awkward grinning/grimacing emoji.)

6. What book character would you be, and why?
I have always adored Matilda – her magic powers, speedy reading skills, brilliant pranks to well deserved recipients and calm kindness.

7. If you could time travel, what year would you go to and why?
I would like to be zipped (rather briefly to avoid being eaten) to the era of dinosaurs so I could properly confirm if they were feathered for my six- and two-year-olds. And just ogle them for awhile.

8. What would your 10-year-old self say to you now?
You are a lucky duck.

9. Who is your greatest influence?
My family – (perhaps not one who, but a collection of whos): the chaos, love, endless stories, hugs and crafting.

10. What/who made you start writing?
I’ve been working as a picture book illustrator for many years and finally got a nudge from a few publishers to try the dark side.

11. What is your favourite word and why? 
Thunderstorm. I love the crackle of electricity and rumble in dark skies, reminding me (even in a busy city, on a hot day with deadlines and dinner to make) we are part of a bigger, more mysterious and magic thing.

12. If you could only read one book for the rest of your life, what would it be?
I’m afraid that question is impossible, as I love consuming new books endlessly. However, if I had to chose one right this moment, it would be You Belong Here by MH Clark and Isabelle Arsenault as I could both stare at the illustrations for years, and hum along to the words:

You are a dream that the world once dreamt, 
And now you are part of its song. 
That's why you are here, in the place where you're meant, 
For this is right where you belong.

Jess Racklyeft is an artist and author of picture books, as well as creator of paintings, prints, pins and other papery projects. Recent awards include CBCA Notable Picture Book of the Year two years running. She lives in Melbourne with her young family, old dog and rather energetic kitten. Her first picture book as author/illustrator, There's Only One Mum Like You, is out through Affirm Press. For more information, see www.jessesmess.com.