I grew up on a farm near Pyramid Hill, the small Victorian town where I was born. I spent a lot of time surrounded by cows, sheep, dogs, cats, chickens and the occasional snake. I travelled 24 miles to school at Kerang on an ancient bus – top speed 40mph. I loved shearing time and collecting mushrooms in the winter. I now live on the beautiful Sunshine Coast where I cannot tell if the wild mushrooms are safe to eat or not!
I am the author of Anzac Sons: The Story of Five Brothers in the War to End All Wars and the children’s version, Anzac Sons: Five Brothers on the Western Front, which made the 2016 Australian Book Industry Awards longlist and was a CBCA notable book as well. What a great honour! My interest in the service of my ancestors began when I was studying to become a teacher. I used a selection of the letters they sent from the Western Front to complete an assignment. The dream to honour their courage and sacrifice was ignited.
My latest book titled Granny’s Place, is a fiction story for children and is based on my childhood memories of my much-loved grandparents, the joy of the family gatherings on their small farm in central Victoria and my own reflections on the changes that life brings. It has subtle links back to Anzac Sons including the home which my grandfather built from mud brick and named Passchendaele when he return from the war. Shane McGrath, the talented illustrator, is now working on Shearing Time which is to be released early in 2017.
I am delighted to be a 2017 recipient of a May Gibbs Creative Time Fellowship and will be spending four weeks in Canberra next year to focus on writing. Thank you to the May Gibbs Children’s Literature Trust for this wonderful opportunity.