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

Tuesday 23 February 2021

10 Quirky Questions with author Meg McKinlay

1. What's your hidden talent?
I’m not sure I hide any of my talents! You have to make the most of what you have. But there is one sort of odd thing: as a lifelong stutterer, I’ve learned to run a conversation along two tracks - the one you can hear, and the one in my head. While I’m speaking, I’m constantly also ‘reading ahead’, spotting problem words – hard consonants and tricky combinations – coming towards me, and hunting smoother alternatives.

2. Who is your favourite literary villain and why?
Boo Radley, because he turns out not to be a villain but just misunderstood, and because people are complex and ambiguous and the apparently villainous are very rarely just that.

3. You're hosting a literary dinner party, which five authors would you invite? (alive or dead)
Margaret Atwood and China Mieville, because not only are they independently brilliant and fascinating, but I heard them in conversation at a Writers Festival once, and it was one of the best double acts I’ve ever seen. The way they bounced off each other was nothing short of spectacular. I’d throw Shaun Tan into the mix because he’s thoughtful and quirky and articulate and I have a feeling his mind would bounce off theirs in some really interesting ways. I’d put the remaining two spots up for auction and retire on the proceeds.

4. Which literary invention do you wish was real?
The Great Glass Elevator!

5. What are five words that describe your writing process?
Chaotic, intuitive, method meets mayhem.

6. Which are the five words you would like to be remembered by as a writer?
Thoughtful, thought-provoking, honest, weird, Meggish.

7. Picture your favourite writing space. What are five objects you would find there?
Big window with view of a birdbath, books of all kinds, notepaper made of scrap paper (because I love flipping it over and seeing fragments of our family history while I scribble), smoothly flowing black ink uniball pen, Tok Tok Tok badge, from Shaun Tan’s Cicada.

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!)
My word is ‘though’ and it’s from The Telegraph Big Book of Cryptic Crosswords: Though the night was dark, their way was illuminated by hundreds of tiny fireflies.

9. If you could ask one author one question, what would the question be and who would you ask?
I would ask Frané Lessac: Why did the chicken cross the ditch?

10. Which would you rather do: 'Never write another story or never read another book'?
I feel like every author’s answer to this is going to be an exercise in creatively circumventing the question! After my initial response of: Oh, dear god, I’ve decided I’d give up writing stories. I’ll write poems instead. Long, narrative poems. And if I string enough of them together … I think you get the idea.

Meg McKinlay grew up in Bendigo, Victoria, in a book-loving, TV- and car-free household. On the long and winding path to becoming a children’s writer, she has worked a variety of jobs including swim instructor, tour guide, translator and teacher. These days, she lives with her family near the ocean in Fremantle and divides her time between teaching and writing, a balance that swings wildly between chaos and calm. She is always busy cooking up more books and you can visit her on the web at www.megmckinlay.com.