Frequently Asked Questions
When did you start writing?
I was nine when I entered a short story writing competition for children in Australia and Papua New Guinea (we were living in Papua at the time). I won it and the prize was a first edition copy of The Fellowship of the Ring by J.R.R.Tolkien. Dad read that book to us by tilley light – what a thrill!
After that, I suppose the first serious writing I did was as a songwriter. That was my passion, and my husband and I have recorded a number of CDs. My first book, The Happy Prince, is a children’s picture book with CD and was published in 2000. It was a home schooling project with my children, and we were offered some funding to self publish it.
Then in 2002 my husband enrolled me in a four year correspondance course with The Writing School as a birthday gift (at my suggestion!). That was when I really began to write in earnest.
How did you get published?
For a long time the only thing that ever came back in the post was rejection slips, but finally the day came when an American magazine accepted a short story for publication. After that, I had a number of other stories and articles accepted in quick succession and published in American and New Zealand magazines, and in the New Zealand School Journal.
I found my Australian publisher, HSM, after writing the first book in a series of parenting books called The Gift of Values, and HSM has gone on to publish The Barn Chronicles and The Gift of Values series.
Where did you get the idea for the title Where Lions Roar at Night?
The inspiration for the title Where Lions Roar at Night was from the first night we spent in the barn. It was to be a very wakeful night for some of us – strange noises, worries about rats, loud water pumps, and then… the eerie sound of lions roaring. I couldn’t believe it at first. But Chris assured me that it was indeed lions – of course we were hearing the lions at the Zion Wildlife Gardens. The sound somehow encapsulated the exciting start to our new adventure and seemed to be a fitting title when I came to write the book.
Do you enjoy writing?
I LOVE writing – I have always kept a journal, and in fact the inspiration for the The Barn Chronicles is taken exclusively from my journal entries – as soon as something happens or someone says something funny, I write it down in my journal. Then when I come to write the book, it’s all there, and the book just about writes itself.
What I don’t like about it – hmmm…that would probably be when I’m itching to spend a few hours writing, and stuff happens – life happens – and I can’t get to my manuscript. I just have to be patient, and I’m not very good at that!
Where do you get your ideas from?
Life is never dull (or quiet) when you have a large family! But for me, this provides a never ending souce of inspiration and content for my writing. Eight different characters to study, eight different lives being lived out with all the accompanying dramas and joys. We love living in the country, and for me to be able to write a book about our life on a small rural block is an added bonus. It’s what I know and love.
Who does all the drawing in your books?
Mostly yours truly. Although I have managed to persuade some of my children to help me. I loved Kate’s lion so much I used it as a chapter header in Where Lions Roar at Night.
And Sam drew a great spider!
I actually had an accident and broke my leg the year I was writing Where Lions Roar at Night. The enforced rest gave me the time to draw the illustrations – a silver lining to the cloud!! But I don’t want to do it that way again though!
How do you fit it all in?
We all get 24 hours a day, no more, no less. It’s what we choose to do with those precious hours that matters. I don’t spend a lot of time watching TV – that sure helps fit some good stuff in! I have learned to utilise small blocks of time, rather than just waiting for large blocks of free time. If I didn’t discipline myself to do that, I would never finish writing my books. I have also learnt how to prioritize certain things – ie: I don’t do a lot of ironing!! I must say though, I felt somewhat chagrined when Jake ran past me a while ago, stopped in his tracks when he saw me ironing and said, “Do you know how to iron, Mummy?” The cheek of it!
Will you come and speak at our school/church/event?
I love to get around and visit schools! I am also very keen to be involved in parenting/homeschooling/women’s events. So please feel free to contact me and I’ll check my diary!