I was born in London, near the beautiful Greenwich Park. I still remember the park's earthy smell. At five, we moved to Africa, where I adopted a slow old tortoise (who later disappeared into someone’s soup), a bouncy black rabbit and a cheeky dog called Penny. I played in the dirt making pretend schools and villages and only dragged myself inside when meals were served. Primary school was just somewhere I went between adventures.
A niggle to write a novel began in 2006.I completed ‘The Year of the Novel’ at the Queensland Writer’s Centre (twice) plus the ‘Year of the Edit’. My first story was accepted into the Allen and Unwin Children’s Manuscript Award in 2009, and in 2011 I wrote a short story, "Second Letter A" that went on to be published in the 2011 anthology of ‘One Book Many Brisbanes’. I kept writing, reading, attending workshops and submitting until...
In July 2012, I pitched 'Smooch & Rose' to UQP at the CYA Conference in Brisbane, and by October, was offered a contract. I am thrilled to think my stories will be out there being read by the people I wrote them for!
So far, I have published six middle grade novels, including Smooch & Rose, Spud & Charli, Mister Cassowary, Wombat Warriors, Turtle Trackers and Everything I’ve Never Said. The first five are all about Aussie animals, but the last on the list is based on my lived experiences of having a daughter with Rett Syndrome, who can’t talk. My latest book, Devils in Danger is due out in August 2021, and is all about, you guessed it, the amazing Tassie Devil!
I live in Brisbane with my very supportive husband, two dogs, a cat, and a donkey called Freckles.
Frequently Asked Questions
Q. What inspired you to write your new book, Everything I’ve Never Said?
A. I was inspired to write Everything I’ve Never Said after meeting Kristina Schulz, my now publisher, back in 2010. After graciously rejecting the adventure story I’d shown her, she suggested I write a story closer to my heart. ‘Write about something you love,’ she advised. At the time, I was struggling to cope with my youngest daughter, Charlotte, who has a rare disability called Rett Syndrome. Not being able to talk or communicate in any way meant she was super frustrated, making our life extremely challenging. I tried writing her story back then, but found it too hard, too close to the bone. So, I shelved it, escaping reality by writing about my other passion, wildlife. I only returned to my daughter’s story some years later, this time determined to tell it properly.
Q. What made you start writing?
A. I wanted to write a story about animals and the environment, but was having trouble deciding the plot. Then I saw a big area of cleared gum trees near my daughter's school and the idea of koalas and their struggle because of development started to grow. My first story called Smooch & Rose came about from seeing these trees cleared.
Q. What's Spud & Charli about?
A. Spud & Charli is a horsey adventure story. It’s about what happens when your imagination runs wild. I started writing it when the deadly Hendra virus was spreading through Queensland and Northern New South Wales, and rumours and scare tactics were making things worse. So many times we do crazy things because we only know half the story. Spud & Charli is about what happens when we don’t stop to find out the truth.
Q. What research do you do for your books?
A. Loads! For Mister Cassowary, I'd never seen a cassowary in the wild, so I went up to Far North Queensland twice to see them. The first time I only heard their warning calls, and saw their droppings but too scared to stick around, I ran from the forest without even seeing one. The next time I went, I saw two, plus a baby, which was amazing. For Wombat Warriors, I spent time with the carers at the Wombat Awareness Organisation, and Conservation Volunteers Australia, who filled me in on many wombat facts! Plus I got to cuddle lots of wombats.
Q. What books did you like when you were growing up?
A. "Harry the Dirty Dog" was my absolute favourite when I was a toddler, but when I was older I loved anything by Gerald Durrell, Enid Blighton and Agatha Christie. I also loved a book called "Survive the Savage Sea" about a family ship wrecked and lost as castaways at sea for months. Weird, but I loved their tenacity and courage.
Q. What's your favourite animal?
A. I used to say my favourite animal was the tortoise, but I have to say I love hedgehogs, dogs and horses too.