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

Tuesday 21 May 2024

12 Curly Questions with author Julie Murphy

1. Tell us something hardly anyone knows about you.
I went to the same high school as Oliva Newton-John (a little after she did). The Vice Principal told my class that he remembered advising a shy teenage (ONJ) to make sure she got a good education because she didn’t have what it takes to make it as a singer. That always reminds me that everyone faces criticism when striving to achieve their creative goals, and persistence is key.

2. What is your nickname?

3. What is your greatest fear?
Losing our natural world. Habitat destruction and climate change are major threats to natural environments which life on Earth depends on to survive. I try through uplifting stories to connect kids with nature, which I hope will ultimately help both the children and lead to positive conservation outcomes.

4. Describe your writing style in 10 words.
Variable according to mood, subject and engagement for young readers.

5. Tell us five positive words that describe you as a writer.
Pensive, curious, engaged, persistent and slooooooooow.

6. What book character would you be, and why?
Wish, from Cressida Cowell’s The Wizards of Once series. Wish is optimistic and consistently encourages those around her, no matter how dire the situation.

7. If you could time travel, what year would you go to and why?
I’d go back to 2003 to see the smooth-head blobfish being discovered by New Zealand scientists. When they pulled up the unfortunate creature in a trawling net from over a kilometre deep, the relatively low pressure at the surface made its body droop like a scoop of ice-cream melting in the sun. The scientists called their sad-looking specimen ‘Mr Blobby’, and its photo led to the blobfish being voted World’s
Ugliest Animal in an internet poll in 2013, even though, down where the blobfish lives, it doesn’t look strange or ugly at all!

8. What would your 10-year-old self say to you now?
"You have done things that I don’t even dream of doing." As a shy child, I was more comfortable around animals and a book than people. Yet now it’s a rewarding part of being a children’s author to interact with groups of children and their carers at schools and libraries, and promote new books at bookshops and in live radio interviews.

9. Who is your greatest influence?
I grew up on David Attenborough’s documentaries. He is an expert science communicator who, even in his 90s, has kept his sense of wonder at the natural world. Plus, he’s a nice guy! I once sent him one of my books because it featured an animal that I first discovered from one of his shows. He responded with a lovely handwritten reply, which I treasure.

10. What/who made you start writing?
A yearning to express and be heard. When shyness made it difficult to interact with others, reading books made me feel less alone and writing stories was an outlet that allowed me to express my feelings and wonder of the world around me.

11. What is your favourite word and why?
Nincompoop because it’s simply a preposterous word!

12. If you could only read one book for the rest of your life, what would it be?
A Monster Calls by Patrick Ness. It’s as close to a perfect story as you can get, and works beautifully on a number of levels.

Julie Murphy is a former zoologist and zookeeper who writes about animals and the environment. Her 20+ fiction and nonfiction picture books for children have been published in Australia and the USA, recognised for awards, and translated into Simplified Chinese, Korean and Danish. For more information, see www.juliemurphybooks.com.