Author of ‘Lost Items’
I was born in 1966. I liked reading, and adapted the adventures filling my head to my life in Palmerston North – with surprising success.
In Year 7, I got the only award I’d ever get at school: a certificate for ‘Effort and Originality in Reading and Language’.
High school was a big, single-sex boys’ school that I obeyed in Years 9 and 10, but loathed in Years 11 and 12.
I got a clerical job, saved money, then travelled overseas. I was 18 and didn’t know what I wanted to do. I returned, and enrolled at university. At first I avoided English, thinking I’d have to read Shakespeare, but I took a paper called Writing that had a creative writing element. The next year I switched to English, and eventually discovered contemporary poetry.
After university, I got a job as a studio operator with Radio New Zealand. Non-commercial radio was my other big love. But after a year I returned to university to keep my brain alive. I did Bill Manhire’s Creative Writing course, and began to learn to write.
I worked in a bookshop. I wrote. I lived in France for a year. My partner and I had children. I got some writing fellowships. I got old. Now I’m working on my sixth collection of poetry.
Books I loved aged between 8 and 12: The Famous Five, The Secret Island, Biggles, Dr Who. I wanted adventure. I remember reading The Day of the Triffids in Year 5 or 6, and the teacher asking me if I understood it. Watership Down. The Hobbit. Mrs Frisbie and the Rats of NIMH. Catweazel. The Mouse and the Motorcycle. The S E Hinton books, which I found disturbing. I still love Winnie-the-Pooh and The House at Pooh Corner. I learnt a lot about good writing from them.
I loved pop music, and absorbed or rejected whatever the late 70s inflicted on me, and what my parents liked: Abba, Lonnie Donegan, The Irish Rovers, Kris Kristofferson, The Beatles, 50s and 60s rock and roll. I read The Beano, Asterix, and 2000 AD. I was never really into comics, but a group of us spent a lot of Year 8 drawing intricate comic-style battle scenes.
Books my girls enjoyed having read to them: Holes, Watership Down, The Lord of the Rings, Harry Potter, Huckleberry Finn. Their favs: Because of Winn Dixie, When You Reach Me, The Silver Crown, The Little White Horse, Molly Moon. The Graveyard Book, The Fontania series, Roald Dahl books.