|Anne-Maree Rolley writes . . .
I almost didn`t become a writer. I think I was turned off in Year Two when my teacher announced that I had to write a contribution to the school magazine. Not that I minded writing. But on the day she bestowed this great honour I had just finished colouring my fingernails under the desk with Craypas, white over red to make lovely thick pink fingernail polish, and I was desperately trying to hide my hands from her. (It`s not a good idea to put them behind your back, adults always know that you are up to something.) I ended up getting into deep trouble that involved a ruler, tears and a scrubbing brush.
My mother kept my story writing book from Year Three (watch out for this, mothers always keep such things, they pull them out when you are quite grown up and show them to everyone). All through that book are comments such as `very untidy work`, `disgraceful writing` etc. But even that didn`t quite put me off. I moved on to my tragic stage which lasted right through Primary school (I remember a particularly gory story in which a girl is accidentally buried alive and is unable to claw her way out of the coffin). I also wrote poetry that sounded all right but no-one understood a word of it, not even me.
When I was a teenager I wrote mushy stuff with lots of kissing. I tried sending one off to a magazine, but all I got back was a slip of paper with a polite message saying `better luck next time`. I think I still had a lot to learn about romance when I was thirteen.
It wasn`t until I became a teacher that I really got serious about getting work published. My first book was Puffy, a picture book. This year there`s Show and Tell, Millionaire Dog and A Pig`s Tale. I`ve also had some poetry for grown-ups published.
At the moment I`m working on an adult novel and a new story for children–it`s about a group of super rich kids who have to save the world. One kid`s a bit of a wimp, one`s a real snob and the other thinks he`s so gorgeous no girl can resist him. It`s pretty exaggerated, but it`s funny and my Year Four students are giving me lots of feedback on ways to make it even better.
People sometimes ask me how long I spend writing each week. The days I`m not teaching I try to treat writing like a job. I sit at my desk from early morning and stop only for lunch. Mind you, I don`t mind because my office is in an attic and it even has a secret door leading to it. There`s a lovely view from there of the hills and I have to keep myself from looking out of the window all the time.
I think the best thing about being a writer (apart from being able to make up anything you like and not be called a liar) is making people laugh. A Pig`s Tale was lots of fun to write, especially the rude character of Hercules and stupid Lambie. The story is dedicated to all of my students because they are the ones who have taught me most about what kids like to read.
All in all I`m really glad I didn`t give up on being a writer when I was in Grade Two, even if I had to sacrifice my beautiful Craypased nails to get there.