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

Tuesday, 17 September 2019

12 Curly Questions with author/illustrator Maree Coote

1. Tell us something hardly anyone knows about you.
I speak Japanese (a little rusty). I love to swim in winter (very quickly).

2. What is your nickname?
I have a few: Mouse, Min, Ree.

3. What is your greatest fear?
A sky full of drones.

4. Describe your writing style in 10 words.
Enthusiastic, curious, often rhyming, and well-armed with dictionary and thesaurus.

5. Tell us five positive words that describe you as a writer.
Amusing if at all possible.

6. What book character would you be, and why?
Alice, because she had such a curious time down that rabbit hole.

7. If you could time travel, what year would you go to and why?
I925 in New York City; for the flappers, the Charleston, the martinis, the Gershwins, the glamour… and all that jazz.

8. What would your 10-year-old self say to you now?
You’re doing fine, back to it, keep going.

9. Who is your greatest influence? 

My father. Because a great dad starts you off in life like few other things. A strong, clever, gentle, generous, optimistic and funny dad is the most empowering thing a kid can have.

10. What/who made you start writing? 
My love of Melbourne drove me to write about my city when it was being suddenly and systematically demolished in the 1980s. I felt I had to photograph and document all my favourite places — from Deco palaces to water fountains — before they were bulldozed into oblivion. And so began a string of books about Melbourne.

11. What is your favourite word and why? 
Cummerbund. I first read it in Edward Lear’s nonsense poems when I was tiny, and it stuck in my head because I didn’t know what the word meant. The sound of it was wonderful. I held it there with a mental bookmark, until the meaning came to me years later. It made me understand that kids can handle all kinds of conceptual thinking.

12. If you could only read one book for the rest of your life, what would it be?
Only one? If forced, it would have to be Shakespeare’s Complete Works, because the rest of your life is a long time, and you need something that’s gonna give and give. I do love reading my dictionary. A good dictionary is full of stories.


Maree Coote’s love for her home city drives her endeavours. Author and illustrator of two award-winning local histories and more than a dozen children’s books, Coote has maintained a prolific output since 2003. She is also renowned for her fresh and playful take on typography that blurs the boundaries between word and image. Her unique ‘Fontigram’ graphic style has generated collaborations in Italy and in Korea. For more information, see www.melbournestyle.com.au.

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