A little more about me...
Apart from reading and writing, I also love birds, animals, art and spending time in nature.
My first job, long before writing, was as a Hand and Machine Compositor at The Advertiser Newspaper in Adelaide. I was their first female apprentice and spent a short time learning the art of hot metal and letterpress printing before things were fully computerised. I attended the Croydon College of Graphic Arts and later went to the London School of Printing when I travelled to England. I lived in London for several years and while there I opened a typesetting studio with my partner in Islington EC1.
After many years in the printing and graphic design industry I was itching for a change and went to uni to study psychology. To balance the many psych subjects, I took a few children's literature and creative writing classes and it was then that I discovered a passion for writing. And later, when doing an MA in Creative Writing at the University of Adelaide, my supervisor, Tom Shapcott, encouraged me to write more poetry. He also introduced me to the verse novels of Dorothy Porter and Steven Herrick. I'll forever be grateful to Tom for his encouragement and support.
Over the years, I've had quite a few different jobs to fund my study, writing and travel. I've worked as a compositor, a typesetter, a financial counsellor, a community worker, an editor, an access worker, a writing coach and mentor, a tutor, a mental health worker, an editor and co-publisher of chapbooks, and for a very short time when I ran out of money while travelling I ironed sheets for a pension on a Greek Island. I now live in the beautiful Adelaide Hills with my partner and my son's cat - Flea.
Questions and Answers...
Here are some questions I've been asked about 'The Art of Taxidermy'
Q. Are you a taxidermist?
A. No, I'm not a taxidermist. I could never be a taxidermist because I'm very, very squeamish.
Q. Would you taxidermy your pet?
A. No, probably not. Though I can appreciate the art and beauty of taxidermy, I don't think I'd be comfortable keeping a pet this way. Having said that, I do have the ashes of one my beloved dogs in an urn near my desk.
Q. If you love animals why did you write about taxidermy?
A. Lottie, the main character, is an animal lover. She believes in ethical taxidermy - which means she would never hunt, hurt or kill anything. Her focus is to give new life to creatures that have already passed away.
Q. How did you come up with the idea?
A. The idea came to me after I had a conversation with a young student I was teaching. She was a beginner taxidermist and it struck me as a very unusual thing to be interested in. The way she described it sounded so dark and macabre and I became curious and wanted to explore the topic further.
Q. Why do you write verse novels?
A. I love reading verse novels and have wanted to write one ever since reading Steven Herrick's, 'The Simple Gift', and Dorothy Porter's 'Monkey Mask'. Both are brilliant books. I felt it would be something that would suit my way of working, too, because I write poetry and fiction, and this way I could use both skills in one project.
Q. Why did you choose to write 'The Art of Taxidermy' in verse rather than just writing a regular novel?
A. I first started exploring Lottie in a short story and when a friend read it and said she wanted to know more, I decided to try and turn it into a verse novel. The verse was somehow more impactful and so I continued. Having read Dorothy Porter's verse novels, I noticed the genre suits dark and difficult themes. In 'The Art of Taxidermy' I write about death, dying, grief and grieving, which are difficult topics to discuss and write about. It felt like a good match. That's not to say you can't write a funny verse novel. You can, as Steven Herrick has done.
Q. Did you like Aunt Hilda?
A. Poor Aunt Hilda. I feel sorry for her. She really is trying to do her best for Lottie, even though we can see it is not the best way to go about changing her obsession. Aunt Hilda means well and life is about learning. None of us are perfect.