WHERE IT ALL BEGAN
I grew up in Sydney at a time when chocolate was a Friday night treat and soft drinks were only served at birthday parties and Christmas. The youngest of four children and a bit of a tomboy, I played kingie and hopscotch on the road with other kids in the neighbourhood and enjoyed helping my brothers make bows and arrows out of willow branches. I loved playing hide and seek, French cricket and basketball in the backyard, and spent a lot of time in my cubby house which used to be the chook pen. Of a night I preferred to play cards, scrabble and monopoly with the rest of the family rather than watch TV.
From a young age, I loved books, drama, movies and writing. In primary school, I adapted Oliver Twist for the school stage, and had the enthusiasm but not the ability to direct it as well.
My favourite dog when I was growing up was Mr Chips, who was so scared of storms he’d try to hide under the TV, knocking it over in the process. My favourite cat was Little Arthur (aka Artie) who we thought was a boy until she had kittens on my bed. And then there was our pet sheep, George, who thought she was a dog.
I went to three Catholic schools in Sydney, where I wore brown, blue and mauve uniforms as well as a variety of hats and blazers. I didn’t like going to church much. When I did go, I'd hide down the back of the church, whispering to my friends. After Mass, I’d sit on the handlebars of my brother’s bike as we rode down the hill to go home.
When I left school, I wanted to be a journalist but became a librarian instead. I went to university and graduated with a Bachelor of Arts and later a Masters degree in Information Studies. When I decided that I wanted to teach as well, I completed a Graduate Diploma of Education, majoring in English.
I worked at Parramatta, Auburn and Hurstville public libraries in Sydney and set up the first public library in the Wollondilly Shire, before moving on to Moss Vale TAFE library, which became a joint library with the University of Wollongong.
In 1988, I made a tree change to the Southern Highlands with my husband, Luke, young daughter, Rebecca, and son, Ben, born six months later. We lived on an idyllic acreage with a creek running through the middle and an old wooden bridge that creaked every time you walked on it. The property was so secluded, you couldn’t see another house. More wallabies and wombats lived there than people.
Inspired by the laid-back rural lifestyle, Luke and I wrote many songs together. I wrote the lyrics and left the music, singing and guitar-playing to him.
When Luke accepted a job on Norfolk Island we moved there in 2001. In between voluntary work as a researcher at the local museum and casual teaching at the school, I wrote a screenplay as well as the first draft of Racing the Moon. The screenplay was the result of an online screenwriting course with the Australian Film Television and Radio School.
After returning with my family to the Southern Highlands and full-time work, I studied playwriting in various short courses at the NSW Writers’ Centre and Griffin Theatre. I’ve had four of my plays performed in short play festivals in Sydney, Newcastle and Armidale. I love the collaborative process of working with directors and actors.
In 2012, after re-discovering the first draft of Racing the Moon in the back of a drawer, I started work on it again. I went to a Getting Published workshop with the Faber Academy at Allen & Unwin, and a few days later a publisher at Allen & Unwin contacted me with the exciting news that they were interested in publishing my novel. By the time Racing the Moon was published in 2014, I'd written the first draft of Flying through Clouds. Three years later in April 2017, after working with professional editors and a talented young cover and layout artist, I published Flying through Clouds myself. You can read more about my self-publishing journey on my blog.
I've recently returned from a Book Tour, with literary events in bookshops, libraries and a museum in most of the towns and cities mentioned in Flying through Clouds. I've also been working on my first two-act play and researching my next novel. When I’m not writing, I enjoy reading, theatre, films and music, as well as bushwalking, cycling, yoga, playing the piano and travel. I live in the beautiful Southern Highlands, and love spending time with family and friends in Sydney, Newcastle and Canberra.