My Writing Life
Edited my high-school newspaper. Wrote quite a few editorials which were censored by the teacher in charge. Subject matter (prejudice, the war in Vietnam) considered too controversial for our conservative farm town of 1000 people.
1968 -1969: Edited my high-school newspaper. Wrote quite a few editorials which were censored by the teacher in charge. Subject matter (prejudice, the war in Vietnam) considered too controversial for our conservative farm town of 1000 people.
1970-1974: Edited and wrote articles for my university newspaper. During my last year at uni, I wrote a weekly column called “Corn Stifles”. Got in big trouble with my home town when one of these columns was reprinted in the widely read, state-wide newspaper, The Des Moines Register. Looking back, I can see it wasn’t very diplomatic to come up with lines like, “You know you’re from Iowa when your town’s leading industry is old age.”
1975: Living in Melbourne now, and believing passionately that girls and boys should be portrayed in non-sexist roles in kids’ books, I joined the Women’s Movement Children’s Literature Cooperative.
1976: First story published in Australia, in the children’s section of The Women’s Weekly. It was inspired by one of my students, a Year 7 boy who told me he was knitting a scarf which kept getting longer because he didn’t know how to cast off.
1977 to 1988: Seconded to the Publications Branch of the Education Department. Edited and wrote hundreds of articles for Pursuit, Challenge, Explore and Comet, beautiful magazines for school kids.
1980: First book published. It was Shopkeepers, a slim volume in a careers series produced by the Children’s Lit Cooperative mentioned above.
1978 to 1985: Freelance articles, reviews and stories published in Cleo, Cosmopolitan, The Age, The Herald Sun and Australian Woman’s World.
1986: Home with my first baby, I decided to write a book while she was sleeping. This was Oz Rock, commissioned by Macmillan as a title in their high-interest series of school readers. It was published in 1987.
1988: The other book I wrote while on family leave was published: my first novel, You Take the High Road. I was thrilled to be taken on by Penguin, who have published all my subsequent books.
1988: Hello, Barney! published.
1990: A Long Way Home published, my only book for adults. I don’t like it anymore. When I caught my daughter reading it I snatched it off her, and threw all my copies in the recycling. Less said about it the better.
1993: Stormy published. I love her!
1994 – 2000: Worked in schools full-time while husband stayed home to raise our daughters, run the house, do volunteer work at the primary school, go to the gym a lot and play pennant table tennis. During this time I collected heaps of material for stories.
1996: On Saturday mornings in a café, while younger daughter rehearsed for choir, wrote an Aussie Bite with older daughter.
1998: Too Much to Ask For (Aussie Bite) published.
1998-2000: On Saturday mornings, ran a Writing Group for teenagers at the Glenroy Library. With the kids’ enthusiastic support, wrote Asking for Trouble, a novel based on real-life naughty teenagers.
End of 2000: Encouraged husband to return to paid employment. And he encouraged me, bless him, to resign from my full-time job so I could write more.
2001: Asking for Trouble published.
2003: Two Weeks in Grade Six, written with younger daughter Anna, published. Together we wrote two more books featuring Kaitlin, A Term in Year Seven (2005) and Escape from Year Eight (2007).
2007: Making Jamie Normal published in the Aussie Chomps series.
2008: Ruby Clair: The Trouble with Ghosts published.
2009: Another appearance from Ruby! This time in Ghost with a Message.