A Little More About Me...

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Apart from reading and writing, I also love birds, animals, art, photography, typography 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. (Yes, it was a very, very long time ago.) 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 started up a typesetting studio with my partner in Islington EC1. 

 

Typography has been a passion ever since, but after many years in the printing industry I was itching for a change and went to uni to study psychology. To balance the psych subjects, I took quite 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 at Adelaide Uni, my supervisor Tom Shapcott read some of my poems and encouraged me to write more. He also introduced me to the exceptional 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 typesetter, a financial counsellor, a community worker, an editor, a writing coach and mentor, a tutor, a mental health worker, a publisher of chapbooks, and for a very short time when I ran out of money while travelling I ironed sheets for a pensione on a Greek Island. 

 

I now live in the beautiful Adelaide Hills with my partner and my son's cat - The Flea. 

Questions and Answers...

Here are some questions I have been asked about my book 'The Art of Taxidermy':

Q. Would you taxidermy your pet?

A. No. I'm not a taxidermist. I could never be a taxidermist because I'm soooo very, very squeamish. 

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 a creature that had 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 more.

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 of them 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 really of her time and she's trying to do her best for Lottie, even though we can see it is not the right thing to do. Nor the best way to go about trying to change her obsession. She means well and life is about learning. None of us are perfect.