Why do you write books?
I love stories, reading and writing them. It's fun and I pretend to be the
characters in my stories - it's like acting on paper. I hope my readers
will be moved to laugh, think and sometimes cry. I've written plays, poems, speculative fiction, historical, thrillers, humour. It's good to try different styles of writing.
In which countries has your writing been published?
Australia, New Zealand, USA, Brazil, Thailand, Japan, Russia, France, Sweden.
What interesting things have you done because you are a writer?
That's a good question - and not just because I thought of it myself! I've met fascinating people of all ages, travelled to different countries, asked silly questions, sometimes asked smart questions. I've judged writing competitions; researched, written and performed a one person play 'Maggots and Mayhem', about early Adelaide; written a column on writing for a magazine, given talks at writers festivals, conferences and for groups interested in books in Australia, Canada, Thailand and Singapore.
What are your favourite books, movies and hobbies?
Read my Writers-Bitz Blog
How did you get started as a writer?
I entered every competition that I could, sent articles and short stories to magazines and newspapers, then approached book publishers with my short stories. Also lots of hard work. Occasional panic. Pots of green tea.
What awards have you won?
See my awards page
What inspires you?
You, the reader. And all of the readers out there. When someone has a reaction to my story, I love it. Although I wasn't too sure about the time a young fan asked for his book to be autographed, then turned to his friend and said loudly, 'This will be worth a lot of money when she dies.'
Which is your favourite out of all the books you have written?
I don't have a favourite. Truly. It's too hard to decide. All the fifty books that I've written are stories that I could feel enthusiastic about. Otherwise, I wouldn't bother writing them. And favourite books depend on a person's mood. Sometimes you might select a funny book but other times you want to read something scary. I have characters that I am especially fond of, and Audrey from the Outback
series is one of those.
Did you have any special friends when you were little?
My imaginary friend, Jennifer Hobarr, and my Nanna Mavis. Nan made me plaits from darning wool when I pretended to be a princess and 'adopted' me when I imagined being an orphan. And she had a fantastic garden full of trees and bushes to play in and climb on (and write books in).
Where do you get your ideas?
Stories children tell, things I see or hear, articles from newspapers, movies, other books, pictures, songs and childhood memories. Every story is like a jigsaw. Pieces come from everywhere. I've travelled so I can write about other places: Russia, China, Turkey, Italy, Syria, Fiji, Vanuatu, Singapore, Hong Kong, Yugoslavia, Bali, Cook Islands, Thailand and Vietnam. Check out some of my travel photos
from these places.
Do have a special place you write?
Usually I write at my computer desk. With short stories I compose directly onto the screen, but with longer novels I write scenes or character descriptions on paper first, with different coloured gel pens.
What is the strangest place you have ever written a story?
Pizza Hut on a serviette. Or perhaps it up a nectarine tree in my Nan's back garden (when I was nine).
What's the best part about being a writer?
I can act weird and people expect it. I work whatever odd hours I like
- or take a 'power nap' if I'm tired. Writing is exciting. I receive
wonderful emails from readers. Sometimes they write to me, Christine
Harris, and sometimes to my characters. One of the funniest was from a
boy who wrote to Jesse Sharpe, the Spy Girl/Undercover Girl
character, saying, 'Do you know you're not real?' Holding a new book in
my hands is pretty good too. I look at the cover, then open the pages
and sniff them. Don't laugh till you try it.
What's the worst thing about being a writer?
Waiting for my agent or the publisher to say whether they like my
story. And when I'm about to start a new book, I sometimes worry that I
can't do it and spend a long time doing a cover page and setting up
paragraphs because I trick myself that I'm working on the story. I used
to have a deal with the writer 'me' that as soon as I completed a game
of Solitaire on the computer, I would start writing. But sadly, I
became quite good at Solitaire and started getting the cards right in
the first game. So my delay tactic stopped working.
What does it take to be a writer?
Imagination, being observant, regular practice - even if it's diary or
letter writing, and determination. Reading a lot, and all sorts of
books, is a good idea. I think we absorb language patterns and ideas
without realising it. A thick skin helps. Sometimes I'm asked, 'Do you
ever get rejections?' Of course I do. What writer doesn't? There's an
old saying, 'Nothing ventured, nothing gained.'
What are some of the strangest things that fans have said to you?
Check out Writers
: (on my Writers-Bitz Blog).
What happens when you do book signings?
Usually I just chat and sign books, have a bit of a laugh with people. But one time, it wasn't quite that simple: A
Six Foot Dog.
Do you and David help each other with your writing?
Yes. We read each other's work and discuss ideas. But sometimes, chatting about our work gets us in trouble: Eavesdropping
On A Murder.
Mavis Brown photo: Gary Webster