I grew up in Sydney , at first near the beach and later on the leafy north side. I've lived in the inner city too, and nearly twelve years in the NSW country town of Orange . For three years my husband and kids and I lived in Belgium (the best place in the world to eat chocolate) but now we're happily back in Australia . I love travelling, from camping in the desert to dog-sleighing in the Arctic . It fascinates me how people everywhere are different, but the same.
I've always loved stories and books and words. When I was a kid I loved dressing up in weird and wonderful outfits and playing imaginary games. We spent more time planning our games than actually playing them, but there were magical moments when I was swept away by imagination and 'became' the person in the story. Now I still make up stories and get swept away by imagination, but I just wear normal clothes. Mostly.
My mum had only three or four books in her whole childhood so she made sure my brother and sister and I had plenty. There used to be a ‘White Elephant' second hand shop in Chatswood where we spent hours looking for 20c treasures. At night my dad read to us while mum studied to be an English teacher. His favourite book was ‘The Loaded Dog' by Henry Lawson. It reminded him of the people he knew as a kid growing up in the bush. He used to laugh so much he couldn't read the words, and soon we'd be laughing hysterically too. I don't know how my mum managed to study.
The idea for ‘Just You Wait' came into my head when my daughter was talking about a naughty boy - it reminded me of a mean girl at school, and the day I stood up to her. Everyone comes up against bullies, but sometimes we need help to deal with them. Because Eleanor True is a princess in a fairy tale school, I had lots of fun thinking up fairy tale problems and a magical solution. Craig Smith had even more fun with his illustrations!
I wrote ‘Bushranger Bill' after a visit to the outback. I was looking for a story about giant wombat fossils, but it was the spotted bowerbird with his collection of bones that caught my imagination. What a great bad guy! Then we had a satin bowerbird in the Blue Mountains who stole blue flowers for his lady… so romantic. I remembered the old bushranger songs, and the painting ‘Bailed Up!' by Tom Roberts. Bushranger Bill, Tourmaline Lil and wicked Captain Bluff sprang to life in my mind. Amanda Graham's illustrations are just perfect.
When my son was in first class, the teacher wrote ‘When I grow up I want to be …' My son wrote ‘When I grow up I want to be… magic'. That's just how I feel. For me, being able to write a story and see it become a real book is like magic.