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Bat Kid: eight year old Jonny reads the upside-down bits of Diary of a Bat - upside-down

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Sally with the original 'Ben at the launch  and Icky-Ooky-Sticky-Smick'

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Sally with her agent Frances Plumpton at the launch of 'Demolition'



  • Where do you get your ideas?
    It depends! Sometimes I get an idea because of something that's actually happened. It might be something one of my girls has done at school, or maybe something I've seen on TV or read in the paper. Sometimes (though not very often!) it just pops into my head when I least expect it. An idea usually starts as a little seed, never fully grown. I need to be very patient, to give it lots of water and sunshine, and wait till it is fully formed. Some ideas never grow. Others blossom. Here are a few examples of where my ideas have come from: When I was in my early teens, my brother was a preschooler and I used to take him for walks in his buggy. We often stopped for ages to watch roadworks and building sites. I thought to myself: wow, little kids really like big machines! This thought was filed away in my brain, and years later I wrote... Roadworks. I saw an item on the TV news about some people trapped in a flood. They were rescued by a tractor. This became... Farmer John's Tractor. I saw a boy walking to school so fast he didn't notice his bag was open and things were falling out. This became the reader, My Brother. I have a very smart young friend called Ben who knows everything about bugs. Whenever he comes to our place, he has insects crawling all over his face in two minutes flat. Ben is the hero of my book... Ben and the Icky-Ooky-Sticky-Smick.
  • What's your favourite part of the writing process?
    When I'm writing a picture book, I love rhyme and rhythm. Sometimes I will decide on a particular rhyme and rhythm before I even know what exactly the book will be about. Words are like music, they are beautiful! In longer books, I love making up characters and stories. It's a great feeling to create something that has never existed before.
  • Which of your books is your favourite?
    Usually it's the one I've just finished writing.
  • Do you only write books, or do you write other things as well?"
    I love writing plays. I like to write them for both adults and children. But I have no talent for directing or producing, so it's always very tricky to get them on!
  • Did you do any study before you became a writer?
    Yes, I did an M.A. in German at the University of Auckland, where I also did papers in French and Italian (yes, I love languages!) In my last year of study, I won a DAAD scholarship to Germany, where I spent a year writing my thesis on fairy tales of the Grimm Brothers.
  • What would you be if you weren't an author?
    I can't imagine having a job that didn't involve lots of lovely-sounding words, so I would probably be a translator or a language teacher. But I would have to brush up my German first, as I've got very rusty! Then again, it would also be kind of cool to work in one of those ice-cream parlours that sell 100 flavours, with unlimited free trials... and little paper parasols... and sprinkles.... mmmm.
  • Where do you live?
    I live in the bush on Auckland's North Shore, with my husband and two girls.
  • What's your favourite writing prop?
    Coffee! And silence.
  • Do you do school visits?
    Yes, I do a limited number of school visits (I live in Auckland).
  • What advice would you have for people who want to write?
    Write! Just do it. Read lots. And have fun!
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