Hello! In this section I have included information about myself that I often get asked when I am talking with people about my writing.
I grew up in Wellington, but I am now living with my family in Dunedin. When I was little, I always thought I would be a scientist like my Mum when I grew up (and I did become an Engineer), but I also had a creative side, and had dreams of writing a book or a musical. Mum says I used to sing all day long as a child. I remember making up stories for hours while walking or riding my bike, imagining all sorts of adventures and intrigues. One year, Mum and Dad gave me a typewriter for Christmas, and I was thrilled at the thought of being able to type my stories like a real book.
How I started writing
I was inspired to start writing children's books by Dr. Seuss, after reading about how he got started writing! I had been writing songs for a number of years, and I have a strong interest in music, so writing in rhyme was a natural progression. At first I wrote stories just for my new baby, Hannah, in which she was the star. But soon I realised that writing was something I loved and wanted to pursue, so I started writing stories to share with other people.
Awards and Things
In March 2010 I was awarded the Storylines' Joy Cowley Award for my story, “Out of Bed, Fred!”. Joy Cowley is one of New Zealand's great writing heroes, so I was very excited about the prize, and having the chance to work with her in the editing stage.
Out of Bed Fred! was also a Storylines Notable Book for 2011.
In 2022 I was awarded the Macmillan Brown Prize from the University of Otago for excellence in English composition.
The Fidgety Itch was televised by CBeebies Australia in 2012, and The Mystery Box and Finnigan Flynn was produced for Radio New Zealand's Storytime in 2018.
In 2021, The Bees Sneeze and Fidgety Itch were released in the UK.
The ideas for my books come in lots of ways: from places that I’ve visited or love (e.g. the Fifi la Belle stories – which are set in Parnell, at the Museum, on the Picton Ferry etc.); funny things that have happened to me or someone I know; or sometimes just a funny thought (e.g. Mr Mayor’s Pavlova Palaver – what would happen if you wanted to make pavlova and all the eggs were egg-napped?). Sometimes, I have a message or an idea that I want to communicate, so the idea of the story grows from that (e.g. A Right Royal Christmas – which incorporates aspects of the nativity story). I also get ideas from observing what my children are interested in. The important thing, I find, is to mull over ideas, tossing and turning and watering them, until they grow from a tiny seed into a story.
The best bit
The best thing about being an author is being able to share my ideas with others. I really enjoy the journey from the intangible spark to the tangible creation.
I love the way the characters come to life from a tiny beginning, where they peek around the curtain at you from the shadows, to fully formed (and illustrated) creatures with thoughts and personalities, ready to dance around the room and be introduced to new friends. What a thrill when these dear little ones arrive in their smart book jackets, ready to be shared in homes and shops and libraries.
I also love having the opportunity to meet and encourage children in schools and kindergartens. And it’s so cool to think that when my books are read in homes, I am connecting with a happy relaxing time in a family’s life.
When I’m not writing
When I am not writing, I am being a Mum to my four children, Hannah, Samuel, Holly and Hope. I love playing the piano and song writing, and I lead the music sessions at Leith Valley mainly music in Dunedin. I also love reading (surprise!) and anything creative. Sports-wise I enjoy skiing, walking and outdoor things like abseiling, caving and hiking (although I haven’t done so much adventuring since having children).
I am the co-director of a boutique advertising agency. I find Science fascinating, and have a PhD in Chemical Engineering from the University of New South Wales in Sydney, Australia, and a Bachelor of Technology in Biotechnology and Bioprocess Engineering with First Class Honours from Massey University, Palmerston North. I was Dux of Queen Margaret College, Wellington, in 1989, and a recipient of the four yearly Clarence Birdseye Young Researcher Award from the International Institute of Refrigeration, Paris, in 1999.