1 Where were you born?
Penola in the South East of South Australia.
2 What schools did you attend?
I started school at the Penola Area School, then we moved to Central Queensland where I attended a one teacher school at Banana for seven years. Then I went to Moura High School, also in Queensland. When I was 14 we moved back to South Australia. I went to Taperoo High for a term while my parents looked around for a property, then when we moved onto a farm near Two Wells, I attended Gawler High School.
3 Did anything strange happen when you were a kid?
Just a few accidents, tipping boiling jelly down my front. When I was seven I was attacked by a huge sow. My father saved me. Otherwise I had a very quiet and solitary type of childhood in the bush.
4 Have you ever been overseas?
Yes - Pakistan. I lived there for about seven years and in the United Arab Emirates for two and a half. I've visited a few places in between.
I've been to Cornwall, England & Paris too. It's an incredible feeling walking down a street that you know your great great grandparents walked down too.
5 Were there any dangerous times when you were in Pakistan?
Yes, there was often an element of danger, so we were careful to take notice of the customs of the country we were in. During the Gulf War we were in Pakistan and the war affected the local people much more dramatically than you heard here on the media. We were confined to our yard by police orders. Elections were also times of concern.
6 Did you enjoy living in Pakistan?
Yes, after the first year of becoming used to different customs, food and dress. The people are friendly and hospitable. You must conform to their cultural laws though: no dating or alcohol. And dress must be modest since it's a Muslim country.
7 Did you find prejudice against women there
According to the Western way of looking at things, yes. Pakistan is a male dominated culture. Many of the customs there relate back to family honour and respect to women. Apparently the Koran speaks of equality of the sexes but I didn't see that acted out. The majority of males take the law into their own hands in their homes, especially those who are uneducated. Many women endure domestic violence. Maybe only 20% of women see the respect that they are supposed to have.
8 Do you do a sport or hobby?
I swim laps a couple of times a week. When I wrote Re-entry I wasn't swimming and my back ached from sitting at the computer. I also got fatter because when I'm thinking about what happens next I nibble a lot. The swimming helps keep me fit. I like to walk too. Once I walked all round Paris – I must have gone 10 miles, and seemed so much more interesting than walking down to the shops here. I read a lot. I'm learning Kernewek too, that's old Cornish.
9 Do you do other work besides writing?
I'm glad you think writing's work. It sure is. And yes, I have a residency at Tyndal Christian School, SA, where I hold workshops for high school students talented in writing. I call those workshops Writers' Ink and you can see some of their work on this site. I relief teach in kindergartens too and do all the things all good writers do like school, club and library visits.
10 What's the hardest job you've ever done?
One year in Pakistan I was acting principal of a girls' boarding school. That was very hard, especially as it was an Urdu medium school. The students gave me no trouble though. Students in Pakistan even stand when the teacher comes into the room each lesson.
The most fun I had in Pakistan was when I was house parent in an international boarding school. Everyone spoke in English. I also liked visiting the valleys in the Himalayas where the Kalash people live.
11 Do you have a family?
Yes, a husband and three children. Mum and Dad were living with us too but they died. Mum had Alzheimer's Disease. My youngest daughter has a dog too. He barks every time someone comes to the door so we don't have a door bell. He's called Cha chi.
12 How did you start writing?
When we were in Pakistan, I couldn't find enough things for my kids to read. I used to tell them lots of stories. One night when my eldest daughter was home from boarding school I told her a story and she asked me to write it down for her birthday. When her birthday came she wanted me to type it up for Christmas. That's how I started.
13 Did you always want to write?
Yes, I think I did. Some of my earliest memories involve reading books or trying to write or telling stories. In grade eight I had a friend Janice. We became blood sisters and we said one day we'd write books.
14 Where do you get your ideas?
From things that happen in my life usually. Re-entry is a lot about how I felt when we moved back to South Australia after I grew up in Queensland. It's also about how we all felt coming back to Australia after living in Pakistan. Someone we knew really did get beaten up for his sneakers and my daughter did have a nose pin. But mostly it's fiction.
I got the idea for Jihad when an aid worker in Pakistan was kidnapped while we were there. He was never heard of again, yet one of our friends was kidnapped soon after and he was released six months later, unharmed. The first idea for
The Keeper came when I was relief teaching in a first grade class one day. I wanted to write a story about a boy and a man. Then I thought about how far a kid would go to get a dad and I got the idea of the ad when I was reading the Sunday Mail.
A Kiss in every wave is a love story in two different times and about things that happened when my mother lived with us. I found some old love letters with kissing codes in them and that gave me the idea to use kissing codes.
15 What are some of your favourite things?
Andrea Bocelli's singing, maroon and heritage green, the number 53 (guess why?) Much Ado about Nothing, Sense and sensibility, Daphne du Maurier, old ink wells, camels and cats, the sea, and the sun in winter. And love, of course, the most important thing.