Who influenced you to start writing? I have always had a fertile imagination; my grandfather was a quiet but amazing storyteller and I was lucky enough to have parents and teachers who read to me and bought books for me. My fertile imagination was mis-interpreted as ‘lying’ in primary school – which was extremely confusing for me, because I couldn’t understand why my stories were making people so angry. Eventually I discovered that the same people who reprimanded me for lying; were delighted by the very same tales, if I wrote them down – so I finally found a home for my beloved stories, on the page.
Looking back, which experiences, jobs or personality traits do you think have really helped you? My ability to tolerate and accept just how bad a first draft is – I honestly believe it’s this ability understand that every piece of writing is an ugly duckling before it bears any semblance to a swan that separates the writers who persist, from those who give up if it isn’t perfect from the beginning. Musicians understand the need to rehearse; athletes understand the need to train but for some reason writers expect their first draft to be perfect – it’s madness.
What inspired you to write this book? I set out to write a book which celebrated dance and how much fun it is – and I loved the thought of toys coming alive at night to join in the fun. I slept with many soft toys as a child; and my daughter is carrying on the tradition – I counted 30 in her bed last night!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!
What’s the hardest part of your job? The most difficult part of my job is trying to live in both ‘the real world’ where there are big, hairy responsibilities and days that don’t go well; and ‘the world of my imagination’ where I can do whatever I want, whenever I want, and be totally in control of the outcome…sometimes it’s hard to come back to the real world…where there is no such thing as ‘The Dishes Fairy’ and I can’t ride a unicorn to safety when my car runs out of petrol.
What’s the best part of your job? I get to work in my pyjamas and there is no traffic between my kitchen and my office.
What was one of the best things that happened because of this book? I was pregnant at the time of writing ‘One Funky Monkey’ so it was a dream come true to read my book to my very own funky monkey, Tess.
What is the most creative interpretation you have seen or heard about your book? When I visit schools or kindergartens and I see kids belly dancing like buffalo or lion dancing like lions…they amaze me…it rocks!!!!!!!!!!!!!
Have you had dancing lessons? I am self-taught – and I fear it shows but…it never stops me shaking my booty! I’ve been known to let loose in supermarket aisles.
What is something that most people might be surprised to know about you? I’m hopeless at Scrabble! People expect me to be brilliant because I love words and I’m a red hot speller but…alas, I have discovered that Scrabble is about patience more than anything and…I don’t seem to be able to find it on supermarket shelves anywhere…
What are you working on next? I have just had a new picture book released ‘Here Comes a Kiss’ which is published by Little Hare and illustrated by David Cornish. I work on new picture book manuscripts every day; I submit manuscripts every week; and I wait for ‘yes’ or ‘no’ answers from publishers every second of every day…tick, tick, tick, tick. At the moment I am playing with pirates and, unfortunately for my family, the pressing need for clean clothes and clean dishes in our house just can’t compete with a pirate intent on mischief!
Read my review of ‘One Funky Monkey’ here.