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

Tuesday 21 November 2023

12 Curly Questions with author Anna Ciddor

1. Tell us something hardly anyone knows about you.
I just got an email a couple of days ago from a lady who used to write me fan letters over 20 years ago. She told me that my books, and my replies to her emails, inspired her own writing journey, and she has just won an award and is having her first book published. What an absolute thrill to know I have helped to nurture another writer into being!

2. What is your nickname?
Strangely, I have never had a nickname, but my grandchildren call me ‘Nana’.

3. What is your greatest fear?
Writing is not just my career; it is my joy, obsession and escape, so my greatest fear is that something will happen to me when I get older that will stop me being able to write.

4. Describe your writing style in 10 words.
Bringing the past to life, heart-warming, humourous, exciting, relatable

5. Tell us five positive words that describe you as a writer.
Ebullient, persistent, obsessive, planner, empathetic

6. What book character would you be, and why?
What an impossible question! Well, I still feel about 11 years old inside so I think I would be a child. Maybe Milly-Molly-Mandy. She has such an enthusiasm for life and a terrific imagination – and a big, loving family.

7. If you could time travel, what year would you go to and why?
There is no simple answer to this! For my books, I have researched and written about many historical periods; I’ve even written time-slip, so I know that ‘time travel’ is not as simple as it sounds. Would I be an invisible observer or would I participate? Would I be a slave or someone wealthy or important? I’d be thrilled to see almost any historical period – except for witnessing a horrible event like a war – but I’m not sure I’d actually like to spend much time being part of any other time, except in my imagination.

8. What would your 10-year-old self say to you now?
When I was a child I adored reading, writing and drawing, went to the library every week, and had a treasured collection of books that I loved so much I read them over and over. BUT I never had the opportunity to meet an author or illustrator like so many lucky children do today. It never entered my mind that one day I could create a real book myself. It was not even a dream. So I would say: ‘I can’t believe you are actually a writer and illustrator and creating books that other children love!’

9. Who is your greatest influence?
I was such an avid reader as a child that even then I appreciated interesting and poetic writing styles, and that influenced my own writing from a very young age. I think I am still most influenced by the authors I loved as a child. Many of them are not fashionable anymore, but they are still fabulous writers: Rumer Godden, Joyce Lankester Brisley, Noel Streatfeild, Laura Ingalls Wilder, Gerald Durrell and, more recently, Terry Pratchett. I have always admired writers who can create a believable world, strong characters, uplifting stories that pull at my heartstrings, and happy endings, so I try to create the same sort of books myself.

10. What/who made you start writing?
I have written for as far back as I remember because stories have always sprung into my head and demanded to be written. The first people to hear my stories were my two younger sisters and my parents.

11. What is your favourite word and why?
I have two favourite words – and I’ve never used either of them in a book. I love them because the sound of them expresses the things they are describing and also make me giggle. The first is ‘discombobulation’ – which means the state of being totally confused. The second is a French word ‘trottoir’ – which means footpath.

12. If you could only read one book for the rest of your life, what would it be?
Another impossible question! I think it would have to be a book that I have already read over and over because I love it. There are lots of those but I think I would choose either Daddy-Long-Legs by Jean Webster or its sequel Dear Enemy. They both touch my heart every time I read them, and feel fresh and modern even though they were written over 100 years ago. The first is the story of an orphan girl whose life is changed forever by the kindness of a stranger and the second tells what happens when she grows up and takes over the orphanage. The stories are revealed in entertaining and touching letters that really bring the characters to life. 

Anna Ciddor has been fascinated by the past for as long as she can remember. It would be her dream come true to step through time! Instead, she immerses herself in research and digs out the tiniest details so she can bring the past to life in her imagination – and in her books. Anna is based in Melbourne, Australia, but her research quests have led her across the world. She has hunted for druids in Ireland, Vikings in Norway, and her grandmother's childhood in Poland. Anna's work has won her many accolades, including the Nance Donkin Award for Children's Literature, a grant from the Australia Council, Notable Book awards from the Children's Book Council of Australia, and shortlistings for numerous other awards. Some of her best-loved books include Runestone, The Family with Two Front Doors, and The Boy Who Stepped through Time. To find out more, visit annaciddor.com.