My friend and fellow author Jon Appleton has a great interview series going at the moment on his blog. Called Book by Book, the series focuses on particular books–such as the first one you ever wrote, the one you wish you’d written, the one you know you’ll never write…and more! So far, Jon has interviewed Laurie Graham, Linda Newbery, Joanne Harris and Adele Geras. And now, it’s my turn to be interviewed!
Here’s an extract:
- What was the first book you wrote?
It depends which way you look at it! The very first ‘book’ I created was at the age of seven when I wrote and illustrated The Adventures of Princess Alicia, which I stapled up so you could turn the pages – sadly, no copies survive! Then, the next big milestone was the first book I actually completed as an adult (after several false starts with novels I started and then abandoned). This was a big historical novel called The Canadian, based on some of the history of my father’s side of the family, in 19th century Quebec, against a background of rebellion. I was around 23 or so. I sent it around everywhere but it got nowhere though I got some nice comments about it from publishers who nevertheless rejected it! That was the case also with The Witch from Crow River, another historical novel set in Quebec, this time in the 17th century (when my ancestors had arrived there from western France). I had not even been to Canada at the time and I think that might perhaps have shown.
Anyway, just a few years later, when I was 27 and had just had my second child (in fact just a week later), I picked up a short story I’d written back when I was 16, which was set on the far north coast of NSW (which I thought terribly exotic but had in fact visited!) and thought, I could turn this into a novel. I did – and the result was my first published novel, The House in the Rainforest, an adult novel set partly in the ‘90s (when it was published) and partly in the ‘70s (when I’d first gone to the north coast). It was not autobiographical, it was just the setting I knew well. While I was waiting to hear back from the University of Queensland Press (to whom I’d sent the novel – they took more than a year to get back to me!) I wrote a children’s novel, a timeslip story set partly in country NSW, partly in medieval France. That was Fire in the Sky, my first published children’s novel. It was published the same year as The House in the Rainforest.
You can read the whole interview here.