My grandfather, brother and me. That’s Little Ted tucked under my right arm.

I grew up on a farm in Western Victoria, the eldest of four children. Books and stories were a huge part of our lives. My grandmother was an English teacher and my grandfather and father were constantly telling stories.

My earliest memory is losing my teddy in a shop when I was about 18 months old. My parents went to buy new carpet late one afternoon and while they talked to the salesman, I played with ‘Little Ted’ on the rolls of carpet. When Dad called me to leave, I rushed off, leaving Little Ted behind. By the time I realised Little Ted was missing, the store had already shut. Desperate for sleep, Dad tracked down the store’s owner to rescue Little Ted! The joys of living in a small country town I guess.

At school I loved writing and reading. Maths…not so much! I also loved art, but I wasn’t very good at it. Apart from reading and writing, my other major skills were talking and laughing! Loudly apparently.

When I was a child I wanted to be a writer, a teacher or work at the Collingwood Football Club. So far I’ve been a writer and teacher – now for Collingwood!

My favourite books were A Wrinkle In Time by Madeleine L’Engle, Hill’s End by Ivan Southall, The Outsiders by S.E Hinton, Catcher In The Rye by JD Salinger, Displaced Person by Lee Harding and Tolkien’s The Hobbit and Lord of the Rings.

One of my favourite quotes is from Lord of the Rings, when Gandalf says to Froddo: ‘All we have to decide is what to do with the time that is given us.’

My first published work was a junior fiction novel called Dragon’s Tear. It sold out before the book launch, which was exciting.

My messy desk!

When I write, I start by checking my daily ‘to do’ list. (I also keep monthly and annual goals, all of which keep me on track – yes I am a compulsive list maker!) After I’ve checked emails, I start work, writing or editing in 45 minute bursts, a new technique I’ve adopted after hearing author John Birmingham talk on radio. He said he wrote for 25 minutes, then stopped for five. I found 45 minutes suited me better. When the timer goes, I move away from my desk and do a few jobs before getting back into it. John also works standing up, which I now do, thanks to my stand up desk. I work until around 5pm and return later in the evening to tidy anything up.

The best thing about being a writer is everything! I love creating new characters and following them through the problems they face and I love the thrill of developing an idea or question into a story. The other great thing about being a writer is helping students develop their writing. These days I write more non fiction books, which I am loving. I’m constantly inspired.

My favourite books are Lord of the Rings (all three), The Shepherd’s Hut (in fact anything by Tim Winton, including his shopping list), Helen Garner’s books, and her shopping list too, actually, Six by Karen Tayleur, anything by Scot Gardner, but maybe, just maybe, The Dead I Know is my favourite, The Narrow Road to the Deep North by Richard Flannigan, anything by Kate Atkinson, Words In Deep Blue by Cath Crowley, So Much To Tell You, Lenny’s Book of Everything, Take Three Girls…okay I’ll stop now!