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FAQ - Frequently Asked Questions

Q1. Where do you get your ideas?

A. From all sorts of experiences (see News section for ideas and tips for writing)

Q2 What do you do in your spare time?

A. I don't have much spare time. I work about 10-12 hours a day. But I like reading, walking, lunch with friends, TV, the beach and gardening. I have a black cat called Henry. I go to water aerobics and weight resistance classes to keep fit.

Q3. Where were you born and where did you go to school?

A. I was born in Geelong, Victoria, Australia on 20th April 1942. I went to Manifold Heights State School then Geelong High School.

Q4. What are your children's names and are you married?

A. Stewart and Fiona are my children, and I was divorced in 1999.

Q.5  Where have you been to promote your books?

A. All states in Australia and all major cities and lots of interesting towns.  I've been to England twice and to New York when my book Care Factor Zero was published by HarperCollins USA in April 2000. And in January 2003, I had a wonderful visit to Japan. This year I am going to Italy!

Q6. What other ways do you promote books?

A. If a new book comes out, the publisher organises radio and TV interviews and articles in the newspapers. Myself? I send  bookmarks and stickers when I answer fan letters, and I answer emails. I  go on panels and  forums. I have this web page .

Q7. Do you get many fans writing to you?

A. I get about thirty letters a week which I answer briefly but personally. And about two hundred emails a week.

Q8. Do you get all age groups writing to you?

A. Yes. The little kids do drawings or send stickers. A lot of teenagers email me about their problems. And teachers, librarians, other authors, people wanting talks, people wanting to get published and publishers write to me.

Q9.What are some personal things about you?

 My favourite colour is blue, favourite food is seafood and chocolate, favourite CDs by James Blunt, INXS and  Rogue Traders, favourite old rock groups are AC/DC and The Rolling Stones, favourite book when I was a child were by Enid Blyton and William books by Richmal Crompton.  Favourite author of books for adults - Janet Evanovitch who writes about Stephanie Plum the bounty hunter.

Q10. What awards have you won?

I have won a number of awards, like the White Raven award in Germany for Wally the Whiz Kid in 1994. My most recent awards are the EARS award, USA 2001 for the audio version of Hold My Hand or Else, and the YARA award 2001, for A Wee Walk. 

Q11. Why do you enjoy writing and do you ever get bored?

A.  I love creating something  that people will enjoy reading, so it's fun. I'm never bored but I do get physically and mentally tired.

Q12. Did you always want to be a writer?

A. I've always loved creating stories and writing letters, so I suppose the answer is yes, though I didn't write my first book till I was forty two. 

Q13. What did you do before you became a writer?

A. Primary teacher, mother at home, pre-school teacher, uni lecturer, education officer/counsellor in an alcohol and drug centre.

Q14. How many books have you written?

A. I've written over one hundred and fifty books and for all different age groups.

Q15. How long does it take you to write a book?

A. I might think about a book for a year. I might research it for three months. But it only takes me about a month to type 20,000 words once I've done the research. But then I have to do another draft then fix it again when it's proof-read.

Q16. What type of book do you like writing the most?

A. All. If I've just finished a serious book for teenagers like Forever Friends- A Secret Diary by Sara Swan, then I'll do a funny  primary school book, like Blast Off. I vary it.

Q17. How do you think of titles?

A. Thinking of titles is the fun part. (See News for more information)

Q18. How much do you have to pay someone to publish your book?

A. I don't. They pay me. An author gets an advance royalty, anything from a few thousand dollars to lots of thousand dollars. Then 10% of the sale price of every book sold. But if it's a book club, only 2% sometimes. If there's an illustrator, the royalty is shared.

Q19. How can I get published?

A. Read ideas and tips in the news section.  Go to book stores and libraries and look at the books that are similar to you want to write. Find the publisher's name on the fly leaf and send a synopsis and the first chapter as well as a self addressed envelope. If you get rejected, try again.

Q20.. Is it hard to get a book published?

A.  There's a lot of competition. Publishers usually get 3000 manuscripts (or stories) a year from new authors and maybe buy two or three per year. But remember, everyone had to start somewhere.

Q21. Who was the biggest influence or inspiration in your life that made you a good writer?

A. Well, I was really lucky because my mum and dad, two aunts and my nana read books to me when I was little. I could read when I was three. And I also always have had a vivid imagination. But one of the main overall influences in my life has been my parents. The biggest inspiration has been my own creative imagination and the fact that children and teenagers love to read my books. Thank you. .