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

Tuesday 26 October 2021

10 Quirky Questions with author Susannah McFarlane

1. What's your hidden talent?
A near-perfect score on Playstation Just Dance Rasputin, perfected during Melbourne lockdown – I think my children are hoping it remains hidden.

2. Who is your favourite literary villain and why?
Hairy McClairy from Donaldson’s dairy – that little dog got away with wreaking a lot of havoc and leading many a dog astray by being super-cute.

3. You're hosting a literary dinner party, which five authors would you invite? (alive or dead)
Last time I did this, I think I invited a lot of clever types who were going to have lots of provocative conversation. This time, though, I am having a girls’ night in and inviting Kitty Flanagan, Tina Fey, Helen Fielding, Amy Poehler and Marian Keyes so we can all just have a really good laugh!

4. Which literary invention do you wish was real?
The Faraway Tree – who wouldn’t pick that? You get all those lands to visit – the Land of Marvels, the Land of Presents, the Land of Birthdays and more – and not a pandemic in sight.

5. What are five words that describe your writing process?
I’d love to be writing wise words like ‘intentional’, ‘daily’, ‘life-affirming’, ‘rewarding', but I am going to have go with – delayed, neglected, erratic, adrenalised (I may have made that one up) and distracted. I am very happily reading (always a good excuse for not writing) Bird by Bird by Annie Lamott, which is very funny about, among other things, the power of procrastination in the writing process

6. Which are the five words you would like to be remembered by as a writer?
Honest, helpful, worth-the-time.

7. Picture your favourite writing space. What are five objects you would find there?
I like a big table clear of distractions. I have my iMac down one end and my notebooks done the other. I always start trying out ideas with a felt-tip pen and a notebook down that end of the table. Then, if the idea survives that, I try expanding it on the iMac. I have a glass and a carafe of water (to stop me using the excuse to get up and get a glass of water.) Reading this over, there is a very clear theme of distraction – no wonder it took me eight years to write Grumble Boats!

Actually, that’s not really the reason: this book has been a passion project for me, to honour my mum (who died 10 years ago) and her brilliant ‘grandmothering’ of my kids. I have tinkered and played with it alongside my other writing projects. Picture books don’t have many words and that makes those words that are there all the more important.

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!)
Call (from Grumble Boats, because it is sitting on my table at the moment)
‘Call as soon as you can, I need...’ and then the message stopped.

9. If you could ask one author one question, what would the question be and who would you ask?
It’s always going to be Enid Blyton and how, on earth, she managed to write so many books – 762!

10. Which would you rather do: 'Never write another story or never read another book'?
That’s so easy – never write another story – and not just because of procrastination! I would hate to miss out on reading new books, discovering new writers, new ways to seeing and understanding the world and the weird ways of humans.

Susannah McFarlane is best known as the author, creator and publisher of some of Australia’s most successful children’s book series. Her belief in the need for age-appropriate but fun content for kids comes from over 20 years' experience as a children’s book publisher and from having worked with some of the world’s leading brands and writers. For more information, see www.susannahmcfarlane.com.