Welcome award winning children's author, Lorraine Marwood to Books for Little Hands.
When did you first know that you wanted to an author?
I think I can even remember where I was sitting in my classroom as an eight year old- the idea and desire just came into my mind and heart and has never left.
Congratulations on winning the Prime Minister's Literary Award for 2010 for your book, Star Jumps.
Can you please tell us what inspired this story?
Can you please tell us what inspired this story?
This is a story I’ve always wanted to write. I was a dairy farmer for 25 years together with my husband and we brought up our 6 children on the farm. As I began to write about farm life some editors thought this was an old fashioned topic! That seemed to make our contemporary labour and life obsolete. I wanted to show a real snapshot of what it was like to grow up on a dairy farm now. And I set Ruby, Keely and Connor at a turning point (which seems to be happening so much now on farms everywhere) as drought really strikes.
It isn’t autobiography, but there’s no way I can share a calf birthing scene unless I’d been there many, many times. I have to confess that the story was written more with saline tears than computer ink. We are now in a regional town and no longer farmers (well I’m not, my husband still works on a big wheat farm, part-time) and I’d like this book to become part of Australia’s social history.
Tell us about your other books.
My first verse novel with Walker was ‘Ratwhiskers and Me’ and a first venture into my love of poetry and my love of narrative and history. I grew up in Bendigo where gold was the feverish word a hundred and fifty years ago- there was a rich cultural mix of ‘diggers’ as well as the rich alluvial then quartz gold. I’ve always been fascinated by history. My childhood home and farm was once a Chinese market garden- I had the story simmering for years before it found voice. This is a novel of adventure and identity.
My other two books with Walker are collections of poetry- ‘A Ute picnic and other Australian poems’ and ‘Note on the Door and other poems about family’. Collections of poems are rare in today’s publishing world, so I value so much the fact that Walker love poetry. And I love writing poems. There are a great variety of poems in these collections from messy bedrooms to Black Saturday to family myths and a Ute picnic itself.
I also have two Aussie Nibbles ‘The Girl who turned into Treacle’ and ‘Chantelle’s Cloak’. As well as some educational readers and three poetry books with Five Island Press.
When and where do you like to write?
Ah, that one’s easy in a way- I like to write anywhere- a habit that came into being when my children were young and there was always plenty of constant farm work- life was in the fast lane- but even while hosing down the cow yard of a morning I could think and dream and observe- so much is observing and I seem to find details that often other people skim over.
I always have a note book with me and I can record down ideas, a line, a thought, a detail which later can be fully fleshed. Writing is a part of who I am – although some days there’s a drought in my note book and other days a flood of words. I somehow have to write long hand for poetry, but stories are computer birthed.
What's been a highlight of your career so far?
Hmm, one small but significant detail passed onto me by my daughter about a local farming family from our farming area, read ‘Star Jumps’ every night to her daughter and she wanted it read over and over again and wanted to know more about Ruby. That’s a highlight.
But of course so too is the validation of the Prime Minister’s award for my work- there’s nothing like a gold sticker on one’s work and the monetary reward is liberating- so long we labour and labour and recognition has many far reaching consequences. Poetry needs that recognition.
What advice would you give aspiring children's writers?
To read, to dream, to keep a diary, a journal with scraps of ideas, tickets, cards, newspaper cuttings, letters. To practice, to read about other authors and their journey, to know that anything worthwhile is never a straight road.
To join organisations like Writers’ centres, SWBCI, PIO (pass it on) online newsletter, go to writing festivals and workshops and network. Enter competitions and send work to magazines. Persevere. Be determined and have faith in yourself. Then read and write some more.
No scrap of writing is ever wasted it leads on and on and builds into the next piece of writing.
What do you like to do when you're not writing?
Ah, interact in many ways with my big family- I love to craft- sew; make cards, garden, read and op shop! And also to teach workshops and writing to many age groups.
A new collection of poetry is due out with Walker in 2013 and I have a few re-writes of new projects to do… lots of exciting ventures coming up and I know that editing and re-writing is part of that ‘What’s next?’ Writing is such an exciting career.
Thankyou for asking me such wonderful questions Renee.