I was born in 1977, which according to my children is ages ago, I disagree (mostly)! I grew up in a tiny place called Cockatoo Valley, in South Australia – it had only a petrol station to mark it on the map. Consequently, I had a fun childhood roaming paddocks, climbing trees, dressing up according to the theme of the day and making my poor Mum come and buy things at my shop. I also bossed my little sister around a lot, making her my sidekick to most of these games which just quietly I think she loved, although she tells me she didn’t.
I first started writing stories and poetry at primary school, thinking the more pages I wrote the better the story must be, so I used large writing and paper with no lines just to prove my point. Turned out I was a little wrong on the word count front, mostly the saying ‘less is more’ is quite true!
I wrote a short(ish) story which was awarded second place in the South Australian Young Writer’s award when I was in Year 10, which was subsequently published in a book of similar student writings and I was totally hooked.
Believe it or not, for a little while I was going to either be a pharmacist or an international diplomat, so I ended up going to the University of Adelaide and gaining a commerce degree, with a major in Mandarin Chinese. When I finished this degree I packed a backpack and headed to Beijing, China for six months of study and dumplings – I got pretty good at riding my bike through crushes of people and bargaining for food at markets!
Next I headed over to London, where I lived for nearly two years. I worked to pay for travel and collected a huge stack of journals with tickets, stories and pictures of the memories I made there. I met some jaw droppingly interesting people, laughed, cried and got homesick. My weekly postcards home are something l love to read, even to this day.
I continued to get a buzz out of publishing articles in the Beijing Daily Newspaper and the TNT magazine as well as really falling in love with poetry, both reading and writing my own.
On the way home via Asia, I realised I actually didn’t want to pursue a career in the corporate sector and began looking into a career as a primary teacher. I studied this at the University of Melbourne, obtaining the next collection of letters after my name, but also completing an honours thesis on picture books (see, the little spark was still lurking there).
I have been teaching since 2001 and I love sharing stories and poems and pictures with young people. I love reading out loud, especially with accents and I believe reading to children is the best gift you can give to them. I currently teach art art across Prep-12, which may not be my training, but I’ve developed a love of the subject. I especially love that when the students walk in they are going to learn about a famous artist and try their hand at different mediums to tell their own story, just visually instead of with words (although sometimes we incorporate both).
I write regularly, usually op-eds in newspapers, to improve my adult writing and in my spare time (?!) I work on my stories for children, which is still where my true passion lies.