When did you start writing and have you always wanted to be a children’s author?
When I was a child I wanted to be an author or an illustrator, I loved inventing stories and creating intricate worlds with expansive maps and detailed histories. One of my first stories was set in the Australian outback, where I grew up, and featured a conversation between an eagle and a fly. However, it was only after I visited the UK for the first time that I started writing seriously. Sometimes you need to have a few adventures before you can write them.
Apart from being a children’s author, do you have another job?
I’m also a researcher. I work with a wonderful charity that helps people use history and heritage to improve their lives. My job involves studying old maps and documents, learning about the ways we used to live and talking with people about their own lives and experiences. I was lucky enough to work on an exhibition about medieval magicians and alchemists and I’m currently working on a project about storytelling, poetry and song in different cultures.
Do you have any pets or even a familiar?
As a child, I had a pet rabbit, a German shepherd and quite a few mice. My family also rescued wild animals and once I even had a boobook owl sleep in my room overnight! I don’t have any pets now, but I would love to find my own familiar soon.
Who are your favourite authors and books?
My earliest favourite books were the Chronicles of Narnia by C.S. Lewis – we had the audiobooks, so I listened to them before I could even read. I also loved Green Smoke by Rosemary Manning, all the books by Alan Garner, Swallows and Amazons by Arthur Ransome and the Chrestomanci books by Diana Wynne Jones. I adore the fantastic worlds of Philip Reeve and Jonathan Stroud and eagerly await each new book they write.
Do you have a favourite film of all time?
My mother and I both love the 1995 film of A Little Princess. It’s a wonderful, comforting story about believing in your own magic. My favourite film of all time is probably Brief Encounter, a black and white film made in 1945.
There are five books in the Hedgewitch series – do you know what’s going to happen in them all?
I like to think I do, but the thing about writing is that your characters sometimes have their own opinions and they don’t always behave themselves (much like broomsticks). Faery characters are particularly capricious and rarely follow my carefully laid plans.
Will all the books in the series be about Cassie?
The Hedgewitch series follows Cassie’s journey, her training as a witch, learning about her family’s past and uncovering the Erl King’s plans. Rue and Tabitha will be with her all the way, but there are also some important new characters we’ve yet to meet.
Which Hedgewitch character do you like best?
It’s very difficult to choose, but I always enjoy writing Montague, he gets some of the best lines.
How did you get the idea for Tantivy the broomstick?
I learned to ride horses as a child (and sometimes still do) so I thought it would be fun if flying brooms, like horses, had their own personalities and didn’t always do what they were told.
Will we find out what happened to Cassie’s mum?
Cassie hasn’t given up on finding her mother, and the observant reader will continue to pick up clues in the next few books.
What kinds of magic will Cassie and her friends learn in the other books?
While anyone can learn witchcraft in Cassie’s world, Cassie, Rue and Tabitha each have their own particular skills. Rue is great at the protective magic of warding, Tabitha is fascinated by the healing magic of mending and Cassie has yet to discover where her own talents lie.
Can boys be witches too?
Keep reading the Hedgewitch books to find out!