What is your birthdate?:1/8
Previous occupations:Editor, director, producer
Favorite job:My working life has never felt like a job - but I've liked most bits of what I've done (though some of it has been tough!)
High school and/or college:I went to 13 or 14 schools all over the world. But ended up in Adelaide, South Australia for my last couple of years at school. And did a drama and English degree at Flinders University.
Name of your favorite composer or music artist?:Can't beat Beethoven
Favorite movie:Just too many to name. But American Beauty comes close. Casino ain't bad too...
Favorite television show:The Tudors. Very sad it's over
- Q. How would you describe your life in only 8 words?
- A. Many lives, one mind, one body
- Q. What is your motto or maxim?
- A. Never trust a sword to a man who can't dance
- Q. How would you describe perfect happiness?
- A. Unconditional love. Giving and receiving. The moment a small child says "I love you." for the first time. And every time. Being truly forgiven. Being accepted. Laughter around a table stocked with friends. Sharing of food and wine on a cold night: the storm outside, you inside, safe and warm and cherished. A perfect morning, nothing but bird song and a soft wind. Writing "The End."
- Q. What’s your greatest fear?
- A. Loneliness. Aloneness.
- Q. If you could be anywhere in the world right now, where would you choose to be?
- A. Which world?
- Q. With whom in history do you most identify?
- A. Elizabeth 1st of England. What a life. What a woman! Mind you, Edward IV, her grandfather, comes a close 2nd.
- Q. Which living person do you most admire?
- A. That's a big call. I like the quiet people - the ones you find out, later, have done extraordinary things but didn't think to tell you...
- Q. What are your most overused words or phrases?
- A. Don't know about mine, but I just hate the over-use of the word "Appropriate"!
- Q. What do you regret most?
- A. Not being a better mother
- Q. If you could acquire any talent, what would it be?
- A. I would, instantly, like to speak the following languages: French, German, Czech, any Norwegian language, Mandarin, Japanese etc and be able to make jokes, and also write elegantly in that language
- Q. What is your greatest achievement?
- A. Keeping my head, sometimes, when all around were losing theirs and blaming it on me (thank you Rudyard.) That, and a little thing called Motherhood.
- Q. What’s your greatest flaw?
- A. Where do I start? Sit down, this will take a while...
- Q. What’s your best quality?
- A. Enduring
- Q. If you could be any person or thing, who or what would it be?
- A. Elizabeth 1. What a star she was.
- Q. What trait is most noticeable about you?
- A. I'm noisy. That's odd, in a novelist.
- Q. Who is your favorite fictional hero?
- A. Today? A number of the Norse Gods. Particularly drawn to Thor.
- Q. Who is your favorite fictional villain?
- A. Loki. The shape-shifter.
- Q. If you could meet any historical character, who would it be and what would you say to him or her?
- A. My grandparents. We moved around so much I didn't ever know them. I'd ask my father's father to explain what courage is. He was a war hero, but a modest man. I'd ask my mother's father how he came to survive the sinking of the Lusitania and why he taught his daughter (my mother) to dismantle an engine in 1920's London when she was a teenager. What was that about? I'd ask my father's mother to talk about physical beauty - and its loss - and what it was like to be a strong personality when women weren't supposed to be strong. And I'd want my mother's mother to tell me about my mother when she was a little girl. And that is because my mother had a remarkable life. I want to know how she was equipped to face some of the things she had to endure.
- Q. What is your biggest pet peeve?
- A. Violence in any form. Much more than a peeve.
- Q. What is your favorite occupation, when you’re not writing?
- A. Right now, it's planning my spring veggie garden and thinking about the chook house we're about to build
- Q. What’s your fantasy profession?
- A. To travel between dimensions - I'm convinced they're there - with wings. That or to be a Shaman
- Q. What 3 personal qualities are most important to you?
- A. Courage. I aspire to it. Compassion. Because I find that hard sometimes. Timing. I so often get it wrong.
- Q. If you could eat only one thing for the rest of your days, what would it be?
- A. Don't even want to contemplate that one!
- Q. What are your 5 favorite songs?
- A. Pieces of music, rather. The Moonlight sonata by Beethoven. Now, that's a song without words. Leader of the Pack. Torn. The Snow Patrol song I keep singing but don't know the title (hits me like a hammer, though.) Almost anything by Nick Cave. But this is just today...
- Q. Who are your favorite authors?
- A. That changes all the time. I just look for great stortellers - my bedroom is littered with half-finished books because, in my terms, a story has run out of puff! Mind you, have loved reading Robert Harris lately. Love his breadth and range - Rome to UK politics? Now, that's deft. But maybe politics is politics all through the ages.
And, whilst I'll have a bout of reading fiction intensively, I find I return, again and again, to writers of history - often women, it seems - who focus of the characters of the people they write about, and the details of their chosen world. Such stories to dig into. Truth. Can't beat it.
In this arena, I'm loving the work of Liza Picard, Alison Weir, Barbara Tuchman. Like Simon Scharma too. What a mind that man has - and such a breadth of knowledge.
- Q. What are your 5 favorite books of all time?
Honestly, that changes. I've loved different things at different times of my life.
As a kid, I adored to plunge into the world of Narnia. I read and re-read those books and books of legends and fairy tales too. A bit older, and Narnia led me to "The Lord of the Rings." Only when I grew up did I understand how much the rolling phrases of the King James translation of the bible had influenced both CS Lewis and Tolkein. (I was in Oxford last year and there was "The Eagle and Child" - the "Bird and Baby" - where the Inklings used to meet. I was thrilled.)
The teenage me loved "Katherine" by Anya Seton. A big influence on my own writing later. Loved Douglas Adams too. PG Woodehouse. Jerome K Jerome as well. And, a guilty treat, anything by Georgette Heyer. But then, I was 14!
In my twenties and thirties and beyond, I was reading two or three books a week and numberless, numberless scripts. And writing too. Not precisely a blur but I know I started "War and Peace" at least three times, not to mention Marcel Proust "Remembrance of things Past." Time to have another go...
Dickens, Dumas - all the great story tellers. AS Byatt, her sister too. And on, and on. Plucking names from the past as I go. And so, that's a lengthy way of saying I don't have 5 favorites.
- Q. Is there a book you love to reread?
- A. Alison Weir, "The Wars of the Roses." For the detail. Does The Song of Solomon count as a book?
- Q. Do you have one sentence of advice for new writers?
- A. Don't think; write.
- Q. What comment do you hear most often from your readers?
- A. I was transported...