Are you doing a school project on Sally?
Here are some things you might like to know…
Where were you born?
I was born in Darwin, Australia, but grew up in South- East Asia, moving around every few years because of my dad’s job. I finished my schooling in Melbourne, but then went to study Chinese painting for three years in Shanghai and Hangzhou, where I learned to speak Chinese (Mandarin). When I returned to Australia I began helping Chinese-Australian kids with their schoolwork and one of my students inspired the first books I wrote and illustrated: Speak Chinese, Fang Fang! and Fang Fang’s Chinese New Year.
How many books have you written?
I have published more than a hundred books over the last twenty-five years since my first book was released, some of them I’ve written, some I’ve illustrated and others I’ve co-produced with other people. My most popular books so far are the Billie B Brown and the Hey Jack! series, but I’m always busy writing more! You can check out my full booklist on this website.
Do you have children?
Yes, I have three sons, but two of them have grown up and left home. My partner also has three daughters, so we are a lovely big blended family across two houses with two dogs in the mix! My youngest son inspired me to begin writing the Billie and Jack series ten years ago, as he was struggling to learn to read and was finding his school readers boring. Now I try to always write books with kids like my son in mind. Kids who want a great story and interesting characters but might find reading a challenge for lots of different reasons.
What’s your favourite thing to do?
Well, I have to say writing stories, drawing pictures and making books is literally my favourite thing to do! I have been making books since I was six and just haven’t stopped because I love it so much. Aren’t I lucky that this is now my job? When I’m not writing or drawing, I love to walk my dog in the bush thinking up new ideas for stories.
Where do you get your ideas from?
Ideas come from anywhere and everywhere. I would say all my ideas come from a mixture of imagination and experience. For example, most of the Billie and Jack stories came from things I remember doing when I was growing up, then I add some imagination into the mix to make them into a story. The Polly and Buster series has a lot more imagination in it because obviously witches and monsters don’t exist, but all the feelings they experience come from my experience, and many of the events that happen in the stories come from things that are happening in our world right now.